The need for fiscal responsibility

`Ano`ai kakou…  On May, 30, 2012, the Star Advertiser reported that the state Council on Revenues lowered the revenue projection for next fiscal year, which prompted Governor Abercrombie’s administration to cut back the state’s spending.

This is not surprising.  When revenues are down, everyone cuts back on spending.  Everyone except OHA.

Trustees Keep on Spending

Our new CEO, Ka Pouhana Kamana’opono Crabbe, has been working diligently to cut our budget wherever possible and to streamline operations to save money, but there are still Trustees who insist on spending more.

This extra spending puts enormous pressure on our dwindling resources at a time when OHA has already accepted major financial commitments such as Waimea Valley, ownership of the Kaka’ako Makai Settlement Properties, and other commitments such as the $3 million/per year for 30-years debt service for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and funding for organizations such as Alu Like, Inc. and the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation that have made their way into our annual budget.  These are huge amounts of revenues being contracted to these entities.  Add to this the grants and annual operational expenses and we are maxed out.

A Constant Issue

Overspending has been a longstanding problem at OHA.  In April of 2004, our money committee chair asked for a legal opinion that would allow OHA to spend more of the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund.  He even questioned whether it’s even appropriate to build the Trust at all.

I have consistently argued against OHA’s 5% spending policy and strongly recommended that it be reduce instead to 4%, at least until the economy fully recovers again.  Even Kamehameha Schools operates at a lower spending rate than 5%.

Fiscal Restraint

In these tough economic times, there are nearly a hundred nonprofit organizations asking for OHA grants each year.  While giving the money away will make OHA very popular in the short-term, we should be focusing on the long-term health of the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund.

We have worked carefully for two decades to build the Trust to over $300 million.  I would hate to see this relatively modest amount shrink down to nothing in shortsighted spending sprees that forces us to realign our budget several times a year and draw more money from our corpus (trust).  What other organization does this?

Greater Transparency

State law (Hawaii Revised Statutes §10-14.5 on budget preparation and submission; auditing, Section b) requires that: “The (OHA) board shall provide opportunities for beneficiaries in every county to participate in the preparation of each biennial and supplemental budget of the office of Hawaiian affairs. These opportunities shall include an accounting by trustees of the funds expended and of the effectiveness of programs undertaken.”

I have recommended time and time again that OHA needs to take its proposed budget out to the community so that our beneficiaries can give us their input as well as tell us what their needs are.

This was the common practice of OHA in the past and I believe it helped OHA to develop a budget that was more in-sync with our beneficiaries’ concerns.

I will continue to press OHA’s money committee chair to take our next proposed budget out to the community, as required by law, including the neighbor islands.

So which path will OHA’s leadership take?

It has long been understood that OHA is a “temporary” organization that will someday be dissolved and its assets transferred over to the new Hawaiian Nation.

So the critical policy question is: “Will OHA continue to be a ‘temporary’ organization that will give the Hawaiian Nation the assets it needs to survive or will OHA continue to spend freely and shrink the Trust Fund?”

OHA desperately needs Trustees who will make the tough decision to focus on building towards a more permanent, long-term goal instead of taking the easy and popular path of short-sighted spending.

In this election year, OHA beneficiaries should look carefully at the candidates running for OHA Trustee and choose individuals who will take OHA in a more fiscally responsible direction.

What has been sorely lacking is for Trustees to prioritize our spending and focus on the things that our beneficiaries need and NOT use OHA’s “Strategic Plan,” which is at best a wish list of too many things and does not focus on the top priorities of our people.

NOT listing priorities leaves the door wide open for certain Trustees to continue to fund anything and everything while neglecting meaningful programs in healthcare and housing.

As long as trustees keep drawing money out of our corpus, or trust fund, we are taking money away from future generations of Hawaiians.  After all, what is a nation without assets?  Aloha Ke Akua.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs & The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands commit to a partnership…

to create housing for all Hawaiians

November 2011 KA WAI OLA COLUMN

`Ano`ai kakou…  On September 21, 2011, the OHA Board of Trustees held a historic joint meeting with the nine-member Hawaiian Home Lands Commission to discuss ways to expand our roles in creating housing opportunities for Hawaiians.  The meeting prompted a great deal of discussion about the ways trustees and commissioners could work together to increase housing opportunities for all Hawaiians.

OHA and DHHL have a long history of working together to create homeownership opportunities for Hawaiian
families.  For example, we worked together to house 279 Hawaiian families in the Kānehili subdivision in Kapolei
and 19 others in the new Kaupuni community in Wai‘anae.

OHA has also contributed $500,000 to a joint effort with DHHL to renovate Kalaniana‘ole Hall in Moloka‘i; $667,000 to rebuild Kawānaanakao Gym on the Big Island; and $3 million to build the 85-unit Waimanalo Kupuna Housing.  In addition, OHA has provided $3 million annually to cover the debt service on bond funding of approximately $40 million on various DHHL projects.  And in 1994, OHA set aside $20 million for down payment and home repair loans for homeowners and those on the waiting list.

According to the Star-Advertiser (9/23/11) Hawaii is one of the bottom states when it comes to owning a home and renting.  Hawaii was the highest in the nation for the median cost of a home, at $525,400, compared with West Virginia, which ranked the lowest at $95,100.  The national average was $179,900.

Our median rent was first in the U.S. at $1,291, compared with West Virginia, which came in last at $571.  The median rent in the nationwide was $855.

Among our islands, Oahu had the highest monthly rent at $1,363, while the Big Island had the lowest at $972.  The percentage
of multigenerational households here was the highest in the country at 7.2 percent.

According to OHA’s Kauhale: Native Hawaiians and Housing report (9/21/11), Native Hawaiians:

  • Experience a disproportionately high rates of unsheltered homelessness and make up a significant portion of the population in shelters;
  • Spend a significant amount of their income on housing; and
  • Must compete for both rental and homeownership opportunities in an inflated market.

Our local people are also faced with the fact that landlords are aware that the federal government supplements housing for military families and are also providing them with a cost of living allowance (COLA).  Given these benefits, military families are able to pay the high rents charged by landlords, while our local people are not.

I believe the solution lies in partnering with other advocates and pooling our resources to address the core issue of homelessness – the lack of affordable rentals and homes.

Going forward, the key to success will be to think outside of the narrow vision of building only single family homes.  We must build townhomes where more than one family can live in, nice apartments or transitional housing units for single family members and Kupuna.

I look forward to working closely with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Director and its Commissioners in the coming years to vastly improve the housing conditions for all of our Hawaiian people.

Aloha Ke Akua and Imua Hawaii nei.

Shapiro wrong on ceded lands

By: Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Letter sent to the Honolulu Advertiser Editor, January 8, 2009

I take issue with Mr. David Shapiro’s December 10, 2008 statement that, “No state can operate effectively with its ability to manage its resources in indefinite limbo.”

I agree with the principle of his statement but he cannot compare Hawaii with any other state.  No state other than Hawaii relies on native lands to function.  It is a shame that this state cannot find other sources of revenues to meet its needs and has to continually rob “native” resources.  It has been too easy for this state to use our native resources to balance its budget.  We acknowledge the right of the state to use ceded lands to satisfy other purposes mentioned in the Admissions Act, OHA has never disagreed with that fact.  However, we do disagree that the state has a right to sell ceded lands that satisfy the Hawaiian requirement of the Admissions Act.

A whole new attitude of respect must be initiated at the state level regarding ceded lands so that Hawaiians are not short changed.  Only then can the state expect to have the cooperation of the Hawaiian community.

The state must also change its stance that it has the legal right to all of our native lands, which is clearly not the case.  Hawaiian Home Lands are ceded lands and its mandate was created by federal law.  For the state to say that “they” have the legal right to all of our lands while we only have a moral one is not only arrogant but also ignorant.

Lingle is wrong on ceded lands

By: Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Letter to the Editor, Honolulu Advertiser. December 8, 2008

Governor Lingle’s assertion over the weekend that Hawaiians only have a “moral” claim to the ceded lands, and not a legal one, is preposterous.

The governor knows that the state has been financed on the backs of Hawaiians since its inception.  To take a position now that we do not have a legal claim to ceded lands is a slap in the face for all of us who have supported her for the past six years.

OHA has done nothing but open our hearts, and wallets, to her administration.  We’ve guaranteed loans for her Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to the tune of $33 million dollars which should have been part of her budget and spent countless millions subsidizing her Department of Education, which has done so poorly educating our children.  Where would her administration be without OHA money and Hawaiian land subsidies?

You would think that after six years of lobbying Congress to get the Akaka bill passed she would know better, or were her actions and words just a political ploy?  Can Hawaiians, or anyone, trust what she says in the future.

Fiscal Irresponsibility


Source: August 2008 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column

`Ano`ai kakou…  Here is an update on OHA’s recent spending:


On January 17, 2008, the BOT approved a realignment of the OHA budget appropriating $4,567,511 from OHA’s Fiscal Reserve Fund to be distributed over 3-years to the Hi’ilei Aloha LLC for the operation of its subsidiaries Hi’ipaka LLC and Hi’ipoi LLC.  The operating budget for all three businesses for the July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008 fiscal year was $2,276,882, of which we have already spent $614,809.70 as of March 31, 2008.


The OHA budget was realigned again at our board meeting on June 5th to accommodate the huge Board Initiative grants which were also approved at the same meeting.  The grants include:  (1) $1,000,000 to Kanu o Ka Aina Learning ‘Ohana; (2) $750,000 to the Lana’i Cultural Center; (3) $500,000 to Kaumakapili Church; (4) $500,000 to the Malama Learning Center; (5) $150,000 to Hawaii Maoli; (6) $300,000 to Na Maka Walu; (7) $300,000 to Papahana Kuaola; and (8) $150,000 to La’i’opua 2020.  The grand total for all of these grants is $3,650,000!

Hawaii Maoli is a permanent fixture in our budget as they are contracted by OHA to collect Kau Inoa registrations.  However, there is no accounting for all of the funds that are being spent through this organization, especially monies given to grantees that do not have a 501(c)(3) nonprofit tax status.  How much more money is Hawaii Maoli getting through fees or charge-backs from these organizations?  The trustees have no idea.


On June 5th, the board authorized the Administrator to enter into an agreement with the Department of Hawaiian Homelands to cover their debt service on a loan of $35 to $41 million for a period of 30 years starting on July 1, 2008 with an amount not to exceed $3 million annually.

DHHL is a government agency under the Governor’s budget.  The state has long neglected its obligations to house Hawaiians and it should, therefore, be the state’s responsibility to guarantee the DHHL loans – not OHA.  It is the only fair thing to do since the state receives 80% of ceded land revenues while OHA has to survive on only 20% of those revenues.  As advocates for Hawaiians, OHA should be holding the state accountable instead of funding their shortfalls.

Trustee Mossman asked whether the timing for this proposal had anything to do with the Sovereign Councils of the Hawaiian Homelands Assembly’s (SCHHA) recent opposition to OHA’s negotiated settlement bill at the state legislature.  Trustee Heen assured the trustees that there was no “quid pro quo.”  However, I agree with Trustee Mossman that the timing is awfully suspicious.  Not to mention the fact that Haunani Apoliona is running for re-election this year.  Make no mistake, I am NOT against giving grant money away.  However, in order to stay within our budget, we must cut costs elsewhere.

At present, our budget is approximately $41 million.  Add to that all of the recent budget realignments and the budget will probably climb to well over $50 million a year.  This is a ridiculous figure.  Besides all this, OHA is too top heavy with “special assistants” who are getting contracts to work on “special projects” that are taking up a great deal of our inflated budget. 

The scariest thing of all is that Apoliona is supporting the increase in spending all the way through 2012.  In other words, these realigned budgets are being approved using money that we have yet to receive.  With the economy in the “drink,” our people struggling with high gas prices and unable to drive to work or losing their homes and being forced to live under freeway overpasses and beaches, OHA continues to spend money like “drunken sailors.”  The question is why?  At present, we are already $5 million overspent in our current budget.  Wouldn’t our people understand if we explained how important it is to tighten our belts at this time?  We should be leading by example.

“Making a lot of nonprofits happy now by offering them a lot of money into 2012 and then taking that money away after the November elections because we are not able to meet these commitments is cruel, irresponsible, and a terrible way to get votes.”


One of OHA’s attorneys for our failed ceded lands negotiated settlement with the state and the OHA v. State II case was paid a total of $414,533.84 in attorney’s fees.  A second attorney was paid a total of $423,840.16.  As you may recall, the ceded lands negotiated settlement was shot down by the state senate and OHA lost the OHA v. State II case.

OHA’s Washington D.C. law firm that was hired to lobby for the passage of the Akaka bill was paid over $2,000,000 (that we know of, a request for a monthly billing statement would be much more accurate – these numbers are conservative).  A special consultant for the Akaka bill was paid an additional total of up to $450,000.  That is a total of up to $2,450,000 (conservatively) which have been paid to lobbyists who have not been able to deliver the votes.  Make no mistake, I support the passage of the Akaka bill, but I have also suggested many times that we hire people who are able to deliver.


 The Native Hawaiian Trust Fund portfolio has lost 10% of its value (approximately $39 million) in these tough economic times, and probably more at the time of this printing.  National consumer and prognostic indicators say that investors should have at least 20% of their investments in cash that can be liquidated and moved quickly.  Unfortunately OHA currently has less than 10% or $25 million of its portfolio in cash

According to a June report from one of our money managers, global equity markets fell by more than 8%, with US and European equity markets returning -8.4% and -11.7% respectively.  As of July 9, 2008, the estimated preliminary return for their share of OHA’s portfolio in the month of June was –4.95% compared to benchmark performance of –4.48%.  They also stated that the growth outlook for the US economy remains weak, as increased unemployment, a weak dollar, and further pressure on the financial markets contribute to expectations of higher inflation over the next year, with expectations beyond that more restrained.  Given all of this bad news, it is now more important than ever to bring our spending under control.


On another note, I was surprised to read OHA Trustee Walter Heen’s June 13th letter to the Star Bulletin where he wrote, “I do not recall Akana ever dissenting from any of the terms (of the ceded lands negotiated settlement) that were brought before the board, including the waiver provision that she now loudly decries.”

Heen was present at all of the executive session meetings where I expressed concerns regarding the waiver provision.  Further, all of the OHA trustees, along with the administrator, received a letter from me, in advance, which explained why I could not support the settlement bill and that I would be submitting testimony to the legislature in opposition to the bill.

I hope that Heen will make sure that OHA has lined up its “ducks” next time for the 2009 legislative session since he is now part of the negotiating team.  Further, I question why OHA’s negotiating team is still negotiating with the Governor’s office when she has publicly stated that she will not reconsider her proposal – a proposal that our beneficiaries have overwhelmingly rejected.  Why not just work with the legislature?

Divide & Conquer


Source: September 2007 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column

`Ano`ai kakou…  Honolulu attorney Walter Schoettle must like beating a dead horse.  The Day v. Apoliona lawsuit against OHA is just another chapter in his long legal battle with OHA over the Hawaiian blood quantum percentage of beneficiaries.  This war in the courts goes back 20 years.  For example:  Price v. Akaka (1993); Price v. Hawaii (1991); Price v. Akaka (1991); Price v. Hawaii (1990); and Price v. Hawaii (1985).  (

When I was first elected to OHA 17 years ago, Walter Schoettle was the attorney for The Hou Hawaiians (Nui Loa Price and Kamuela Price).  They sued several federal and state officials, including OHA trustees.  The district court denied the Hou’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed their complaint against all defendants.  But that didn’t stop Schoettle.

Now Schoettle has a new strategy with Virgil Day, Mel Ho’omanawanui, Josiah Ho’ohuli, Patrick Kahawaiola’a and Samuel Kealoha (all of whom are 50 percent Hawaiian or more), to revisit blood quantum again.  Their lawsuit argues that OHA’s $28 million annual budget should go to those with at least 50 percent Hawaiian blood.  In essence, they don’t want to “share the wealth.”  Let us not forget that blood quantum was never an issue with the Hawaiian Kingdom.  It was the United States Congress who created the blood quantum percentage in the 1920 Hawaiian Homes Act.  It was created to limit the number of Hawaiians who qualified for homelands, not to preserve our race.  It is sad that even after 100 years, some Hawaiians don’t recognize when they are being used.

They also challenge OHA’s right to partially fund the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC), which provides Hawaiian families with affordable legal representation.  Thousands of people who might not otherwise have been able to obtain legal advocacy have held on to valuable lands or received fair compensation for their lands.  NHLC also helped others to obtain Hawaiian Homestead leases, water for taro farming, and access to shoreline areas for fishing.  NHLC is the only non-profit, public interest law firm specializing in Hawaiian land and traditional rights.

Other groups that are threatened by the lawsuit include Alu Like, a non profit that funds Kupuna programs and assists Hawaiians with job training, and Na Pua No’eau, a Hawaiian language and culture program established at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.  It is important to point out that all of these programs are also funded through matching funds by the legislature.

The lawsuit also objects to OHA’s use of trust funds to lobby the Akaka Bill in Congress.  They seem to miss the point that without the Akaka bill, we may lose all of our Hawaiian Trusts and programs to lawsuits.

Walter Schoettle may be misleading his clients by telling them that unless they stop OHA, they will have to share their benefits, if the Akaka bill passes, with those with less than 50% Hawaiian blood.  I say, “What benefits?”  The only thing people with 50% or more Hawaiian blood are entitled to now are Hawaiian Home Lands.

On the other hand, all 1.4 million acres of Ceded Lands belong to all Hawaiians, regardless of their blood quantum.  The Native Hawaiian Trust Fund is much bigger than the acreage under the control of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL).  There is no need to be selfish.  Their self-serving attitude will only end up dividing Hawaiians.

Another reason that some homesteaders listed in the lawsuit probably don’t want the Akaka bill to pass is that they only want sovereignty on DHHL Lands.  How small-minded can these people be?  Do they honestly believe that hundreds of thousands of Native Hawaiians are going to go along with such a terrible idea?

We all need to realize that if we fight over the entitlements we receive then we all end up losers.  The only ones who end up winning are the Twigg-Smiths of the world.  Virgil Day and the other 50% Hawaiians need to wake up and realize that they are only being used to divide us.  Who wins if the Schoettles and the Burgess’ succeed?  Certainly not the Hawaiians.

“I appeal to you… that there be no division among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.”  I Corinthians 1:10

Follow the money


Source: August 2007 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column

On July 9, OHA received a letter written by H. William Burgess, a local attorney who over the years has filed two lawsuits attacking Hawaiian programs. His first suit resulted in the elimination of the requirement that candidates for the OHA Board of Trustees have Native Hawaiian ancestry. His second lawsuit unsuccessfully sought to dismantle OHA and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. The interesting thing about these two cases is that the majority of the plaintiffs are the same.

Mr. Burgess, in the past three years, has spent a lot of time and energy lobbying in Washington, D.C., against the Akaka Bill. He has lobbied both senators and congressmen against the bill, calling it racist. His zeal and enthusiasm to spread the wrong message about this bill has been unrelenting. No one works for free. The question should be: “Who is paying Mr. Burgess to lobby against the Akaka Bill and to file these lawsuits against Hawaiians?”

In his latest letter, which was sent to Hawai‘i Maoli, Mr. Burgess is requesting that Hawai‘i Maoli put five of his non-Hawaiian clients – Patricia Ann Carroll, Toby Michael Kravet, Garry Paul Smith, Earl F. Arakaki, and Thurston Twigg-Smith – on the Kau Inoa registration list. Of these people, Garry Paul Smith is the only one who is not named as a plaintiff in any of Burgess’s previous cases challenging Hawaiian programs.

The last name on the list should be viewed with great interest. Thurston Twigg-Smith’s ancestors played a prominent role in the overthrow of our Hawaiian government. This fact has been documented in our history. Now, more than 100 years later, we still see efforts to deny Hawaiians their sovereignty and their right to seek reparations for lands taken in 1893 without compensation. What could Mr. Twigg-Smith be so afraid of that he is willing to lend his name in lawsuits against OHA, DHHL and the State of Hawai‘i? My question to Mr. Twigg-Smith is this: Why hide behind these other plaintiffs? At least his ancestors were right up front about what they did to our kingdom.

Hawaiians, press on, no matter that it has been over 119 years that we have waited for the United States to rectify the injustice done to our nation by some of its citizens.

We have achieved, under the Clinton administration, the acknowledgment of the complicity of the United States with some of its citizens playing a role in the overthrow of our kingdom in the passage of the Apology Bill. This bill sets up the process for recognition and reparations from the federal government for the taking of lands without compensation. This bill – along with the report filed in 1999 in a joint effort by the Interior and Justice departments called “From Mauka to Makai: The River of Justice Must Flow Freely,” which calls for the federal government to address the unfair taking of the lands from the Hawaiian nation and also acknowledges the complicity of the federal government – gives us hope that the Akaka Bill will one day pass.

The passage of the Akaka Bill is the next step in beginning to address the wrongs committed by the United States against the Hawaiian people. We cannot and will not let Mr. Twigg-Smith and his attorney, Mr. Burgess, or anyone else defeat the Hawaiian people again. We have survived as a people over 119 years, and we will remain here on our ancestral lands until the end of time. We will prevail against all odds.

How Can We Build A Nation When We Have Negative Leaders?

By Rowena Akana
November 22, 2002

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA

In the last issue of Ka Wai Ola o OHA, Trustees Apoliona and Machado combined their column to write a fictional piece on me to influence votes against me in the up-coming election. Judging from that article, I am certain you are clever enough to see through it. While I consider it to be petty and a waste of energy, I do believe you, the beneficiaries, are entitled to hear the truth. The truth is that from that article our readers should have a very good idea of what kind of trustees they have been while serving on this Board–full of negativity, criticizing the hard work and efforts of others while contributing nothing.

How can we build a nation with negative leadership?

The negotiating team that they spoke about worked very hard to try and resolve the Heely case. What we presented to the Board was an offer that we could begin serious negotiating with. Trustees Apoliona and Machado, along with three others no longer on this Board, voted to end all negotiations with the State leaving OHA’s fate to be decided by the Hawai’i Supreme court. On September 12, 2001, the Hawai’i Supreme Court ruled that Act 304 was flawed and referred the Act back to the legislature. The result of that decision has meant zero revenues for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs since July 2001.

For the first time in 22 years, OHA has no income from which to draw to provide funding for existing and new programs and operations. The trust corpus is now at a dismal $244 million with no guidance from the budget chair since February. We are now dipping into the trust to fund all programs and operations. With the stock market in a downward spiral since November 2000, and OHA losing much of the corpus in the market, it is amazing to me that just when you think things are terrible and they couldn’t get any worse, we find ourselves with a leadership that has taken absolutely no action to remedy either situation. Adding to this already grave problem is the fact that OHA along with other Hawaiian Trusts, continue to be challenged in our legal system.

I find it extremely sad and in very bad taste that Apoliona and Machado waste precious time writing negative things and tearing down the hard work of others instead of concentrating on critical issues facing OHA.

How can we build a nation with negative leadership?

I look forward to the elections in the hope that we will have new faces on the OHA Board that will bring new and positive energy to give us all hope for the future. OHA is the only Hawaiian public trust left that all Hawaiians are beneficiaries of. We must at all cost keep that in mind, and work together to overcome the ‘alamihi crab syndrome that is always present among us.

Let us keep our eyes on the prize and keep our focus. We must settle the ceded lands claims so that we will have a land base to build our nation upon. The 1.4 million acres of ceded lands that are inclusive of the DHHL, 250,000 acres, is what we must look at in totality. We must not settle only for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. To do this would mean the rest of the Hawaiian community would be left without a land base. Finally, we must have recognition for all Hawaiians, not just for a few.  Malama pono!

Together we stand, divided we fall…Hawaiians must stand together, “Onipa’a”

By: Rowena Akana
September 2002

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA

In my last article I spoke about going to Washington, D.C. to attend the Roundtable discussions that highlighted the contributions made to America by American Indians, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians.

In their discussions and speeches, both American Indians and Native Alaskans supported the Hawaiian effort for self-determination. The day after the Roundtable discussions a reception was held to honor native heroes who served in various wars. OHA and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands sponsored the Roundtable discussions and the reception. The two-day event was a nice way to do some public relations. However, the organization hired by the OHA Chair and DHHL gave little or no credit to OHA for its sponsorships. Thus, the attempt to do PR for OHA was unsuccessful. We must be alert to organizations like CNHA who say they represent the people and the Hawaiian community, when in fact, they don’t.

Also, on the Washington scene, the Akaka bill seems to have hit a snag in the Senate with a few Republican senators including Senator Graham of Texas and Senator Kyl of Arizona putting a HOLD on the bill.

On the U.S. House side, Congressman Abercrombie continues to move forward thwarting opposition by Rep. Tom De Lay and a few others who are using the 14th amendment to delay the bill’s passage. I have every confidence in Rep. Abercrombie who was successful in passing the first Akaka bill which could have been much more controversial.

I believe it is very important to note that while we all have been trying to figure out a way to be inclusive and to be sure that ALL Hawaiians have an opportunity to participate in the process to form a nation, the SCHHA, and at least one other group, are planning to develop their own ROLL using the HAWAIIAN HOMESTEADERS TO FORM THEIR NATION. They do not intend to wait for the Akaka bill to pass, nor do they intend to include anyone else in their so-called nation. Their intention is to petition the Department of the Interior with their documents and use the DHHL lands as their land base. While this is not exactly a new idea, the fact that this group thinks that they can get away with it is ridiculous. They believe that Hawaii’s delegation will support this idea. Even if it were true, other Hawaiians will not support the continuation of a divided people. Once and for all we have got to take a stand together. DIVIDED WE WILL FALL. WE CANNOT BUY INTO THE IDEA OF BETTER TO LET SOME PEOPLE GET SOVEREIGNTY THAN NO ONE. Let us not be duped again. A smaller group will be easier to control and so will their assets. Come on, Hawaiians, it is time that we think for ourselves. We cannot let others scare us into a situation that will make things worse for Hawaiians. If recognition is good for some then it is good for ALL HAWAIIANS.

Let us begin to work together to unite for the cause of recognition. Let us begin to agree on the things that we can agree to and set aside the things we differ on and move forward together for the future generations of Hawaiians yet to come.

We cannot continue to let others decide our future. To those who say to us…it is better to let those select few move ahead Without the rest of the people, we need to say to them, “we will be one nation, one people, and we will decide who will be in our nation.”

Let us be as our Queen wished…..ONIPA’A, steadfast in what is good!

“I appeal to you… that there be no division among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.”___I Corinthians 1:10

Board of Trustees Finally Passes A Program For Kupuna Health!

By Rowena Akana
August 2002

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA

SAGE PLUS: A Beginning

On June 20, 2002, the OHA Board of Trustees passed a program to ensure that Kupuna will be counseled on signing up for medical benefits they may be eligible for.

The Native Hawaiian Task Force was convened in 1999. The group was charged with developing health care options for OHA to pursue and originally focused on four underserved groups–keiki, ‘opio, kupuna,and underinsured makua. After reviewing many health care options, the task force decided that OHA should, in the least, provide a service to help kupuna sign up for any medical benefits they may be eligible for. OHA will partner with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the SAGE PLUS Program, operated by the State of Hawaii Executive Office on Aging, to develop an outreach program to ensure Native Hawaiian Kupuna are getting all of the Medicare and Medicaid benefits to which they are entitled.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates that at least 50% of seniors who are eligible for Medicare Savings programs and/or Medicaid are not receiviing these benefits. It has been determined that over 16,000 Native Hawaiian kupuna are potentially eligible for program benefits. We would like to reach as many of this group as we can.

SAGE PLUS is a program which trains peer volunteers to provide information to senior citizens regarding available programs and eligibility requirements for Medicare and other benefits. The program also ensures that volunteers are linked into a network of providers who assist kupuna in a variety of areas. SAGE PLUS provides the initial training (two 8-hour sessions) and monthly follow-up to peer volunteers on each island. O’ahu volunteers receive weekly follow-up meetings. These follow-up meetings are necessary to keep the volunteers up to date. The volunteers will be trained to

* Explain Medicare, Medicare supplements, Medicare choices, and Medicaid;
* Explain benefits and coverage;
* Assist in completing and submitting claim forms, and
* Assist in contacting appropriate agencies to gather information and to make appropriate referrals.

At this time, my heartfelt thanks to the Native Hawaiian Task Force members and former members for all the time and effort they put in getting a health project passed to help our kupuna:

Current members: Dr. Thomas Au (Kauka Hui); Kim Birnie (Kauka Hui); Beth Geisting (Primary Care Assoc.); Claire Hughes (DOH, OHE); Richard Jackson (Queen’s Health Systems); Na’u Kamali’i (Papa Ola Lokahi); Kirk Lange (DOH OHP); Pi’ilani Pang (HMSA Uninsured Project); Mary Rydell (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services); Hardy Spoehr (Papa Ola Lokahi); and Paul Tom (HMA, Inc.). Past members have included Dr. Charmin Akina, Dr. Naleen Andrade, Gladys Brandt, Stephen Chong, Beadie Dawson, Sam Millington, Professor Noreen Mokuau, Charles Nakoa, Richard Paglinawan, Robert Oshiro, Sister Beatrice Tom, and Dr. Benjamin Young.

On another note:

“For the Love of Country: A Discussion About Native Americans Contribution to the U.S.” will be held on July 15 and 16, hosted by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, the Alaska Federation of Natives, National Congress of American Indians, DHHL, OHA, and Senators Akaka and Inouye.

This effort is being planned to help garner support for the passage of Senate Bill 746, better known as the Akaka Bill. My next column will be devoted to this event–bringing you up close to all the events that took place in Washington, D.C. during this two-day event. Until then, a hui hou!