Farewell To A Legend: Gladys Kamakakuokalani ‘Ainoa Brandt


February 2003 Ka Wai Ola Article

I dedicate this month’s column to pay tribute to a great lady, Gladys Kamakakuokalani ‘Ainoa Brandt.  To everyone who knew her she was “Aunty Gladys.”  I was one of those fortunate enough to know her and be a part of her life for a brief moment in time.  Her thoughts, her wit, and her great sense of humor made an important difference in my life.

In her lifetime, Aunty Gladys was raised with the children of the royal family and witnessed the end of the monarch era and Queen Lili’uokalani’s funeral.  Aunty Gladys was one of the precious few of our Kupuna who witnessed these events and lived to see the new millennium.  Most people will write about Aunty Gladys’ many achievements as an educator, but her contributions go beyond education and into the arts and public service.  She served on the boards of countless community organizations and was active in the cancer society until she passed away.  Most of all, Aunty Gladys should be noted for her inspiration, energy and tireless commitment to Hawaiian causes.

[In 1997,] at the age of 91, Aunty Gladys was appointed by Governor Ben Cayetano to finish out the term of OHA Trustee Billie Beamer.  Not only did she keep up with us, but she had the energy and productivity of board members half her age.  Her presence on our board table was felt by board members and administrative staff alike.  Aunty Gladys’ contributions to OHA included her leadership on OHA’s Education Foundation and the Kupuna Health Task Force.   She also served as OHA’s policy chair.  In 2000, she was appointed to the board once again by the Cayetano Administration as an interim Trustee and served for two months until the November elections.

Aunty Gladys was always there to do her part when called upon, especially when it came to Hawaiian issues.  I will always cherish the wonderful hours I spent with her as she shared her famous stories.  In October of 2002, I asked, “Aunty Gladys, why haven’t you ever written a book about all of your experiences?”  There was a pause, and then she said, “Others have tried to get me to do that but, if I did, I would have to tell the whole truth and name names for the book to be truthful and I think even though much time has passed, it would open old wounds and I feel it is best to let the past be the past.”  There was a sense of sadness in her voice.

On December 20, 2002, I called Aunty Gladys to wish her a happy holiday season and told her that I would be spending the holidays on the mainland.  She said, “Great, have a good time, but let me share this with you:  Recently I had dinner at a good friend’s home and they were all Republicans who proceeded to chide me about the commercial I had done for the Democratic candidate for Governor.  Well I said with a straight face to them, ‘Did you hear that there will be no nativity scene in Washington DC this year?’  And they responded, ‘Really?’  ‘Is it because of 9-11?’  No, I replied, ‘it’s because they have a whole stable of Jackasses but they can’t find three wise men!’”

This is the wonderful Gladys Brandt I will remember.  Someone who could laugh at herself.  Someone who had a wit that could match the best scholars.  Someone who loved her Hawaiian people and gave of herself without complaint or reward.  I will miss you Aunty Gladys.  I wish you God speed.

Accomplishments During Chairmanship of the OHA Board of Trustees

By: Trustee Rowena Akana, Chairman
October, 2000

Source: Kai Wai Ola o OHA

With all of the battles, sword crossing, and legal maneuvering this Hawaiian agency has experienced during the last few months, it is important that we not lose sight of the positives that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has accomplished.

Our office has been instrumental in reaching the Native Hawaiian community and serving the beneficiaries of this trust, despite the hardships that this office has had to endure.

Among the accomplishments achieved during my chairmanship of the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs:

* We created a half-time Community Affairs Coordinator position for Lanai.

* Gladys Brandt became director of OHA’s Education Foundation

* We rectified errors discovered in our investment profile, creating a new income formula

* We passed a policy that required a two-thirds vote for all unbudgeted items

* We established a policy for bonds by which our fixed-income managers would not be allowed to invest in below yield investments

* We approved ll grants totaling $425,428 for projects ranging from transportation to Hawaiian immersion schools to prenatal programs for hapai Hawaiians. Just six months ago, our grants department was nine months behind schedule. Now, it is almost a full year ahead of schedule

* We authorized OHA’s continued participation in the Kukui o Molokai, Inc. water case.

* We signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the state for improvements to the Queen Kaahumanu Highway in Kailua-Kona.

* We voted to appropriate more than $500,000 for the renovation of Ke Kula Niihau o Kekaha immersion school, which will provide classrooms and a cafeteria on Kauai.

* We approved a two-year extension of the administrator’s contract and clarified his responsibilities in order to streamline operations.

* We resolved four workers compensation claims that have been pending for more than a decade.

* We awarded $10,000 to OHA’s Education Foundation for operations.

* We hired a personnel manager to align OHA with accepted employment practices.

* We appropriated more than $500,000 for a legal “dream team” to represent our interests in Rice vs. Cayetano.

* During our trips to Washington DC, we learned of a presidential health directive for Pacific Islanders and Asians. We were instrumental in inserting language into the executive order that added our people to the list of ethnic groups eligible for funds and recognition. The order defines a Pacific Islander as “the aboriginal, indigenous native people of Hawaii and other Pacific Islands within the jurisdiction of the United States.”

* We implemented an investment policy with the purpose of reviewing our trust asset allocations.

* We developed an Individual Development Account Program (IDA).

* We approved a MOA for an H-3 Interpretative Center in collaboration with state and federal governments.

* We approved funds for the Saddle Road MOA improvement project on the Big Island.

* We appropriated $120,000 for the Molokai Dialysis Treatment Center and $7,200 in transitional funds for home kidney dialysis machines.

* We also welcomed former Department of Hawaiian Homelands Director Kali Watson to our ‘ohana as a crucial player in the ceded lands negotiations.

* Preparations continue for the October Puwalu Conference. We want to educate everyone about self-determination. All Hawaiian groups will be invited. We have hired a specialist to assist with this historic event.

* OHA, the Bishop Museum, and the Smithsonian Institution are planning an exhibit in Washington highlighting the history of our people, scheduled for about the time the Supreme Court will hear Rice.

* Our steadfast commitment to our kupuna is the basis for a Native Hawaiian Health Task Force to be implemented by the end of this year.

* We launched a successful initiative in Washington DC, winning Hawaiians and the state the support of US Solicitor General Seth Waxman in Rice vs. Cayetano. He filed one of two dozen briefs urging the Supreme Court to consider constitutional OHA’s election.

* We approved amendments to S. 225, a federal bill extending the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act to Hawaiians.

* We awarded $116,996.00 in grants for Native Hawaiian projects.

* We appropriated $1.2 million to guarantee a loan supporting Hawaii County Department of Water Supply’s application for federal funds for road construction and clearing homestead lots in Kikala-Keokea.

* We approved funds for initiatives in alternative education.

* We voted to support the Dollars-to-Classroom Act.

* We amended the Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement Act to widen its scope.

* We included in our money monitor’s contract a provision for a “wrapped” fee.
* We resolved our Ho’oulu Mea Kanu native plant project to the ANA for funding.

* We approved more than $574,000 to the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation to assist beneficiaries in bringing claims against the state for the breaches of the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust.

It is my sincere hope that the Hawaiian community will unite during these
extraordinary times. It is important to keep focused on the positive, so that we can continue to strive forward together as a people.