By: TRUSTEE ROWENA AKANA
Source: December 2006 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column
`Ano`ai kakou… Let me begin by expressing my warmest Mahalo to all those who supported me in the General Election. Your kokua has allowed me to return to OHA to serve you for another four-year term. A very special Mahalo nui to Ke Akua for his divine guidance and love that he has bestowed upon me and my family. I would also like to recognize and bid a fond Aloha to Trustee Carpenter, who has served OHA’s beneficiaries well on the board and who will be sorely missed.
This was an unusually difficult race with so many people running for the three at-large seats. As I traveled around the state, I listened to many complaints that people had about the OHA organization. Here is a list of the most asked questions and concerns:
- When will we see some changes in the leadership at OHA?
- Why aren’t trustees more visible?
- Why isn’t OHA in the communities more often?
- Why is OHA planning for Nationhood without us?
- Why is the administration of OHA speaking for the trustees? Where are the trustees? Why aren’t the trustees in the communities speaking to the people themselves instead of sending staff people to talk for them?
- How is Nationhood going to impact me? What does it mean?
- I did not sign up for the Kau Inoa because I don’t know what it will mean. Will it mean that I will be a registered member of the Nation?
There were so many questions about what OHA was doing with regard to Nationhood that I could only conclude that we (OHA) were not doing enough to educate the people in our own home state about sovereignty. What would sovereignty mean to Hawaiians and, just as importantly, how or will it affect the non-Hawaiians. OHA has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars educating and enrolling many Hawaiians on the mainland but has yet to make any meaningful impact on Hawaiians in Hawaii. This situation has got to change. Trustees are going to have to speak up and make this happen.
I believe that before any federal legislation is written again, OHA must do much more to help the Hawaiian communities and the general public to understand what Nationhood would or could mean to them. I also believe that with the Democrats now back in the driver seats in Congress, a Hawaiian recognition bill that would mirror the Apology bill can be written and passed. This would satisfy and address the many concerns that so many of us had with the Republican inserted amendments that changed the original bill’s intent.
I assure all of you that, after listening to your concerns, I will do everything that is humanly possible to address those concerns. What is also needed is your participation. You must challenge EACH TRUSTEE to be accountable to you. It is unfortunate that you cannot assume that trustees will do this on their own. Like any governing entity, from time to time, especially when one faction has been in power for too long like it has been at OHA, “the people” need to become actively involved. Otherwise, complacency occurs and the abuse of power is inevitable.
As we close out the year of 2006, I would like to wish each of you a very safe and happy holiday season, and may the lord in his grace bless each of you and your families and take you safely into 2007. Have a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.