By: Trustee Rowena Akana, Chairman
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.