2016 Television Spot


Apoliona for OHA 2016 from Blaine Fergerstrom on Vimeo.

OHA Focused On Native Hawaiian Community’s Well-Being

OHA’s response to federal government’s nation-building rules was misconstrued in a recent commentary by Keli’i Akina.

By Haunani Apoliona in Civil Beat, Oct. 17, 2016

Editor’s note: Haunani Apoliona is a candidate for trustee-at-large in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Her opponent is Keli’i Akina. This commentary is a response to a Community Voice in which he criticized her practices as an incumbent OHA trustee.

Keli’i Akina is way off the mark in his misleading commentary on the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ reaction to the U.S. Department of Interior’s recent announcement regarding a Native Hawaiian governing entity.

As the executive director of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, my opponent has joined with his organization’s major investors to champion highly inflammatory information designed to undermine Native Hawaiians and OHA.

Despite being Native Hawaiian, he is choosing to be used by political forces to hinder the growing strength of the Native Hawaiian community, which is focused on regaining a voice in building and shaping its future well-being.

OHA Office of Hawaiian Affairs office. 6 sept 2016

OHA Office of Hawaiian Affairs office. 6 sept 2016 – Cory Lum/Civil Beat

It is obvious from his alarmist commentary that he has not been paying attention to OHA’s meaningful contributions over the years to empower Native Hawaiians and strengthen Hawaii. He ignores “Ka ʻŌlelo A Ka Luna Hoʻomalu,” published in 2010 to mark 30 years of OHA’s successful accomplishments on behalf of Native Hawaiians

Additionally, had he been paying attention to comparable accomplishments in policy, programs, and governance, he would know that OHA has given out more than $34 million in low-interest loans to nearly 2,000 Hawaiian consumers, who have borrowed the money to start businesses, improve homes, consolidate debts and continue their education. 

He would also know OHA provides more than $14 million in grants and sponsorships annually to community-based organizations that advance our strategic efforts to improve the conditions of Native Hawaiians. 

In addition, he would know that OHA awards an estimated $500,000 in scholarship money annually to about 300 Native Hawaiian students. At the same time, he would know that OHA has committed $90 million over 30 years to help the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands facilitate affordable housing for our people.

Above all, he would know that his commentary completely ignores a 2008 federal court ruling, which explained that OHA trustees are reasonably exercising their fiduciary judgment when they expend trust funds in support of the Akaka Bill, and that such action is consistent with the requirement that trust funds be used for the betterment of the conditions of Native Hawaiians. 

His commentary also ignores a 2010 federal appeals court opinion that recognized under the Akaka Bill, lands, resources and assets could be transferred to a Native Hawaiian government.

In other words, the courts recognize that Native Hawaiian self-governance is important to addressing issues important to Native Hawaiians. 

Finally, my opponent finds fault in my response to a Civil Beat questionnaire in July, when I offered perspective on adherence to OHA “board majority decision,” which should rightfully stand as policy when properly enacted. Perhaps my opponent would undermine board and parliamentary rules if unsuitable to him. 

He also insinuates that refining “existing strategies consistent with additional input from the majority of Native Hawaiians” is questionable or, as he puts it, “speaking with forked tongues.” 

Obviously, he fails to understand the essence of “ʻoiaʻiʻo and ʻōlelo pono.”

My demonstrated commitment to Native Hawaiians, along with my 35-plus years of service to Native Hawaiians, helps me to see beneath the surface of complex issues facing OHA. 

I will continue to advocate for lawful policies that help Native Hawaiians, which is simply what my opponent apparently does not know that we do, as trustees.

Haunani Apoliona

Haunani Apoliona – Haunani Apoliona is trustee at large for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Mahalo HGEA For Your Support!


Papahanaumokuakea: Marine National Monument and United Nations UNESCO World Heritage Site


Papahanaumokuakea — Place Of Outstanding Universal Value

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands encompass two-thirds of the Hawaiian archipelago. The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) are a chain of 10 islands, atolls, submerged banks, shoals and reefs that stretch over 1,200 miles northwest of the main populated Hawaiian islands (about the distance from Chicago, Ill. to Miami, Fla.)  Early Polynesian voyagers were the first humans to arrive by double hulled canoe in these NWHI as early as 1000 A.D. Early Hawaiians lived on Nihoa for an estimated 700 years; temporary settlement sites and cultural sites have been found on Mokumanamana. The 18th and 19th centuries brought increased international commercial activities to NWHI and increased exploitation of marine and terrestrial environments. Entire island ecosystems were completely destroyed.

In 1909 President  Roosevelt established the Hawaiian Islands Reservation which became the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge, which lead up to establishing the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in 1988, Kure Atoll State Wildlife Sanctuary in 1993 and the NWHI Coral Reef System Reserve in 2000 triggering a process for recognition as the nation’s 14th  national marine sanctuary. In 2005 Governor Linda Lingle established it as a State Marine Refuge.  January 15, 2006, using authority of the Antiquities Act, President  George W. Bush signed Presidential Proclamation  8031 creating the largest fully protected marine conservation area on the Planet in the NWHI, Papahanaumokuakea.

Protections immediately included: access for Native Hawaiian cultural activities, phasing out of commercial fishing over a 5 year period, prohibition of unauthorized access to the monument, careful regulation of educational and scientific activities, enhanced visitation in a special area around Midway Atoll, prohibition of other types of resource extraction, dumping of waster, banning commercial and recreational harvest of precious coral, crustaceans and coral reef species and oil, gas, mineral exploration and extraction anywhere in the monument.

In September 2006, OHA Trustees were briefed on the status of transition from a State Marine Refuge to a Marine National Monument and the expected lead role of the State of Hawai`i  with the co-Trustees of the monument to seek designation of the NWHI as a UNESCO World Heritage Site under both categories of natural and cultural significance. For the first time in 15 years the U.S. is nominating a World Heritage site for consideration at UNESCO’s meeting, in Brazil, July 2010.

In November of 2006 the OHA BOT “authorized the Administrator on behalf of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) to negotiate with the Governor of the State of Hawai`I, he U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Commerce and their representatives, for OHA to have a meaningful role in the coordinated management of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument (NWHI Mounument); and further authorizing the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of OHA to execute binding agreements that flow from said negotiations.”

On July 8, 2010 the following action was taken by the OHA BOT: “based on discussions with beneficiaries, clearly there are concerns relating to pursuing the World Heritage designation for Papahanaumokuakea.  The staff has reviewed these concerns closely and have identified the advantages and disadvantages of requesting deferral of the decision to designate the site as a World Heritage Site. Based on the staffs’ analysis they are recommending that the Trustees continue to support the nomination and moving forward with the World Heritage Site designation. Further the staff recommends that the Trustees continue to urge the current Papahanaumokuakea co-Trustees to support including the Office of Hawaiian Affairs as a fourth co-Trustee and that the current Administration in Washington D.C. address concerns and issues raised by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs on behalf of the Hawaiian community”.

Trustees Apoliona, Machado, Mossman, Stender and Waihee IV voted yes.  Trustees Heen and Lindsey abstained. Trustee Akana voted no. Mililani Trask, the Koani Foundation and OHA Trustee Akana seek deferral of or oppose the World Heritage designation. In direct contradiction to  the official OHA BOT position, Trustee Akana has written in STRONG OPPOSITION  to the U.S. Ambassador and all international delegates of the World Heritage committee who will vote, asking them to oppose the designation of Papahanaumokuakea.   Auwe.


Views & Voices



Expanding manne reserve was right call

The decision to enlarge the marine preservearound the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands is a momentous one –primarily for the long-range conservationtst thinking it represents a move that was justified in an era ofglobal and regional concerns about climate change.

But it’s also a giant step in resourcemanagement, one that will rely on coordination among the federal, state and Native Hawaiian authorities called to oversee the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

In advance of his trip to Hawaii this week, President Barack Obarna on Friday announced that the federal government would quadruple the area covered by the monument, fIrst established by his predecessor, President George W. Bush, a decade ago. Papahanaumokuakea will be the world’s largest marine reserve.

Obama’s announced expansion is well-timed to both the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders and to the IUCN World Conservation Congress, which convenes in Honolulu on Thursday

It’s also been the subject of a contentious debate among its supporters and its critlcs. Ardent advocates included environmental groups and Hawaii’s congressional delegation, led by US. Sen. Brian Schatz,who formally proposed the expansion in June and was singled out by the Obama administration for his role.

Opponents included a range of commercial interests and community leaders – former Gov. George Ariyoshi among them. The fact that the debate has been such a passionate one underscores the importance of fisheries and access to all the people of Hawaii, including the indigenous population.

It is, without doubt, an enourmous preserve – nearly four times the size of California – and setting aside such a large area of the ocean represents a sacrifice for the fishing industry. But on balance, the advocates have made the most persuasive case that the long-term benefits will be a healthier marine habitat that can withstand the strains global warming has placed on it.

Now the task is to weave a system of management that marries the concern for science and environmental protection with the stewardship of cultural resources.

The official mechanism for doing that, unveiled In the announcement, is adding the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs as a co-trustee of the monument

The monument incorporates state waters out to three miles as well as the waters in federal jurisdiction. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources has represented the state in the co-trusteeship established at the birth of the monument The federal partners have been the federal NationalOceanic and Atmospheric Adminlstratlon and the U.S. FISh and Wildlife Service.

Prohibited activities within the bounds of the monument include commercial fishing, mining, the use of explosives and other activities tbat damage the environment.

But research, cultural practices and educational activities will carry on, through permits the trustees willissue after review.

OHA already has been a consultative partner for the past 10 years, said Suzanne Case, DLNR director, so it’s not a stranger to the management process.

There Is reasonable concern about whether they can provide oversight that’s consistent without becoming bogged down in interagency bureaucracy.

But both Case and Kamana’o Crabbe, the chief executive officer of OHA, do seem to agree on the mission and that’s a good sign. The administration of Gov. David Ige has supported elevating OHA’s role to become a co-trustee, and that impetus should be helpful.

Further, Crabbe said, all the parties are resolved to become advocates for all shared concerns. This means preserving environmental quality as well as enabling cultural practices, guarding what he described as the “realm of the gods.”

Case said the strength of co-trusteeship is that federal and state stakeholders have an equitable voice in decisions, regardless of whether the activity happens within the state’s 3-mile marginal waters. “You all band together to protect an important resource without regard to boundaries,” she said.

This collective stewardship is precisely what the World Conservation Congress seeks to promote on a global scale. The onus is now on Hawaii to demonstrate how well it can work in Papahanaumokuakea.

MidWeek: Haunani Apoliona

Haunani Apoliona with guitar, Nathalie Walker photo

Nathalie Walker photo


MidWeek article by Katie Young, January 2004

Haunani Apoliona has the hands of a musician but the heart of a native Hawaiian leader — a leader who’s trying to design a new future for the people of Hawaii.

As a member of the local band Olomana, her thumbnails are left characteristically long — good for strumming her 12-string slack key guitar. But that’s about the only visible sign that Apoliona, also the chairwoman and a trustee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, is a musician.

In her 12th floor OHA office on Kapiolani Boulevard, Apoliona’s desk is covered with papers and important documents, a ti plant decorates her cabinet, and a United States census map hangs on the door depicting the number of Hawaiians that reside in each of the Mainland states.

Apoliona’s Monday morning has already included a press conference to talk about the history of OHA before she sits down with MidWeek for a lengthy interview. Then she rushes off to another meeting with Gov. Linda Lingle and Congressional delegates regarding the Akaka bill, currently stalled in Congress.

With so many Hawaiian issues at the forefront of the news these days, she is focused and thoughtful, indications that Apoliona takes her culture and her charge as a trustee seriously.

She says it has been her goal to bring about a reformation of the often controversial OHA organization in the three years that she’s chaired it.

“It has been a painful and challenging learning environment for me in my seven-year history with OHA, but I have learned a lot and gotten to work with some honorable and committed people,” says Apoliona, who was elected as a trustee in 1996 — her first run for a public office. “We now look to the horizon of forming a Hawaiian nation that will assume a more extensive leadership role in the future of the native Hawaiian community.”

Looking to the future for Apoliona and OHA means dealing with several upcoming issues that are part of OHA’s revised strategic plan “Hoʻoulu Lāhui Aloha,” meaning “to raise a beloved nation.”

“OHA’s vision means that we’re involved with supporting the passing of the Akaka recognition bill and at the same time helping to launch a Hawaiian governance process that is to help move self-determination for Hawaiians forward,” says Apoliona.

The Akaka bill, Senate bill 344, if passed would provide a political status for native Hawaiians as it does for Alaska natives and American Indians.

OHA has chosen this Saturday, Jan. 17, (the 111-year anniversary of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy) as the time to begin the process of this new Hawaiian governance.

Starting at 11 a.m. in front of Aliiolani Hale (the judiciary building fronted by the statue of King Kamehameha), any person of Hawaiian ancestry may enroll, regardless of whether they reside in Hawaii or another state or country.

“They will be identifying themselves as Hawaiians,” says Apoliona. “This is not an enrollment for the Akaka bill. Once people enroll, we will set the time for candidates for delegates to be identified, followed by an election of delegates. All this is scheduled to happen in the year 2004. Eventually, the goal is to convene anaha, a constitutional convention, that will work toward deciding on a new governing entity.”

Apoliona believes that the Akaka Bill will pass and at that point, once the new Hawaiian governing entity is established, the delegates can debate and deliberate about what Hawaiian governance is going to look like in the future. The provisions of the Akaka bill could be a part of that.

The process will take a significant amount of time, notes Apoliona; no new governing body will spring up overnight. Currently OHA’s focus is to get the largest number of Hawaiian people participating in the base enrollment.

Apoliona says that only from the largest number of enrolled Hawaiians can they elect the most promising delegates and leaders. If there is a weak turnout, there will likely be weak leadership later.

“It’s time for the Hawaiian community to get in, participate and help design the future,” she says. “It’s an opportunity to take the next step and say it’s been 111 years since the overthrow of the monarchy. Now we have a chance to chart the next 111 years going forward.”

There is much pain yet to be healed from the 1893 overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani, says Apoliona. Through the generations that followed, there has been anger, pain, hurt and depression as Hawaiians have struggled as a people.

Yet, she says, there have been some significant strides for this native group.

“For example, some beneficiaries have realized benefits from the Hawaiian Home lands, there are all these service groups and aliʻi trusts that have tried to address some of these priorities and needs of Hawaiians.”

Then came the Federal Apology Bill in 1993, which recognized that a wrong had been done to the native Hawaiians 100 years ago and that some form of reconciliation must occur.

A 1993 attempt to establish a native Hawaiian government by the state failed after lawmakers created the Hawaiian Sovereignty Advisory Commission. But lack of funding and opposition by native Hawaiian organizations prevented an election of delegates. Apoliona thinks that the political and social climates have changed and now is the right time to make a move forward.

This is why she believes participation is key. “Hawaiians cannot expect someone else to help resolve a history if the Hawaiian people don’t take some leadership in it,” she says. “And this governance process will challenge Hawaiians to step up and be a part of shaping some resolution. When that goes forward, we have to be able to let go of the anger and the hurt from the past. There is no turning back.”

So what will happen to OHA then, an organization established by the state Constitution in 1978 by the Constitutional Convention (Con Con) as the initial steps of Hawaiian self-determination?

Eventually, says Apoliona, OHA will dissolve in light of a new governing body.

“At the time of its creation, OHA was viewed as having two priorities,” she says. First was as a body that would regulate and track dollars that were going to benefit native Hawaiians from ceded land revenues. “The second was to be the vehicle to advance Hawaiian self-determination. OHA was always seen as the transition, interim entity.”

When it comes time for that, OHA will have to determine how to transition its assets without “politics undermining it,” says Apoliona. “That will take assistance from state and federal legislation and the community.”

OHA’s busy with other matters as well. A hearing on the Arakaki v. Lingle lawsuit was scheduled for this Monday, Jan. 14, to determine whether or not OHA would be dismissed from the suit in which 16 plaintiffs are seeking to stop all public funds to OHA. In November, a district court judge excused the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Hawaiian Homes Commission, state homesteaders association, federal government and other intervening parties from the suit.

Olomana with Haunani Apoliona, Tad Tamura photo

Tad Tamura photo

Controversy is not new to OHA. It has been widely reported that the organization has had its share of problems over the years, including internal bickering among trustees as well as claims from the greater community regarding misuse of state funds to benefit only native Hawaiians, and disagreements within the Hawaiian community itself.

When Apoliona came to OHA in 1996, she knew the organization was in disarray, but hoped that fresh leadership would help.

Previously she had served as the executive director of Alu Like for six years and had almost a two-decade career with the organization. “I’m a social worker by training, and moving from Alu Like to OHA has just continued to reinforce my sense of being Hawaiian,” she says. “Alu Like helped me gain a better appreciation for the kinds of challenges in our community from the standpoint of health, education and general well-being. Being at OHA has enlightened me on public policy and how it impacts our Hawaiian community. Sometimes what I’ve seen and experienced has appalled and alarmed me. Other times it has been inspiring.”

By recommendation of OHA’s youngest trustee, John Waihee IV, Apoliona delivered the first ever State of OHA address in December.

“We know that OHA’s relationship with the community has, at times, been troublesome,” says Apoliona. “There has been a feeling that OHA has not heard or responded to the Hawaiian community’s needs. This is not the kind of relationship OHA wants to have with the community.”

Apoliona thinks that the OHA board has entered into a different stage of development with compatible leadership styles, talented trustees and a competent administrator in Clyde Namuo. She hopes it marks a turning point for a less-politicized OHA.

“OHA has been accused of trying to control everything, but that’s not so,” says Apoliona. “We’re trying to catalyze change.”

Fellow OHA trustee Oswald Stender has known Apoliona for over 20 years and supports her position. “Haunani has demonstrated her capabilities in her leadership of Alu Like and as chair of OHA,” says Stender. “She has a Hawaiian heart, patience and a great devotion to the work that we do. And, of course, I love the music of Olomana.”

It’s hard to imagine that with all her OHA duties, Apoliona still finds time to play with Olomana, as she has for the past 22 years. She’s still with the group everySaturday night at the Hilton Hawaiian Village from 8 p.m. to midnight.

But Apoliona, who on Page 30 plays her father’s Martin guitar that she inherited in high school, says that many people have always recognized her as a musician first.

“At times that has been a more positive way to connect with the community or individuals,” says Apoliona, who plays a double-neck acoustic Alvarez guitar with Olomana.

Those who have seen her depicted in only serious, ruminative poses in the media may be surprised to catch her on stage with Olomana, whose band members also include Jerry Santos, Wally Suenaga and Willie Paikuli. “People are surprised at what I say on stage; we joke around a lot,” she says. “In many ways I am very shy, and I do have my serious side, too.”

The music uplifts her spirit and takes her back to the days of her childhood when her musical family would sit under the lychee tree at her Saint Louis Heights home and Apoliona, a self-proclaimed “urban Hawaiian,” would play the ukulele the way her father taught her.

As a Maryknoll School student in the 1960s, Apoliona, who is a mix of Hawaiian, Chinese and Caucasian, borrowed a classmate’s guitar and taught herself how to play.

“I asked him, ‘How do you make your fingers?’ and he said, ‘You play ukulele, right? So just put your fingers where your ukulele chords are and then figure out where your two other fingers would go.'”

To this day, Apoliona doesn’t read music, but plays everything by ear. At first she played folk music, but in college she created a Hawaiian studies curriculum for herself at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. She became much more engrossed in all things Hawaiian, thanks to encouragement from her parents and kupuna Aunty Malia Craver, who works for Queen Liliuokalani Children’s Center.

She played with fellow musicians Haunani Bernadino, Aaron Mahi and Eldon Akamine in the group Kaimana, and recorded an album in 1977.

The only solo recording Apoliona accomplished was in 1988. Na Lei Hulu Makua, Na Wahine Hawaii earned six 1988 Na Hoku Hanohano awards, including Traditional Hawaiian Album of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year. She captured another Hoku award for her 1994 recording with Olomana for her original composition E Mau Ana Ka Ha ʻaheo.

That title track was the last time Apoliona wrote a song. “I know there’s more song inside of me,” she admits. “Another solo album is still in the works. You have to wait for that creative spirit to direct you.”

Apoliona says another Olomana album is also in discussion.

“Right now I only make up songs to sing to my dog, Makaʻi, but that doesn’t count,” she jokes. “What I’d really like to do is write a song for OHA, but again, when the spirit comes, the song will come.”

Apoliona turns 55 next week, and this coming year holds much more than a numerical significance for her. There are OHA elections to think about, lawsuits to settle, legislation to push through and a new Hawaiian government to structure.

“I haven’t changed my naʻau,” Apoliona says. “I’ve always felt first that I’m Hawaiian.”

“Each time when faced with a significant decision in my life I took the time to reflect and think, and to draw on the principles instilled by my parents, like service over self-service, earn your way through hard work, be fair and respectful of people … and in the final analysis drew on the discernment that comes from the naʻau, which for Hawaiians provides a foundation of insight. As I look back, each decision laid the foundation for the next challenge and the next choice.”

As with anything in life, when Apoliona made one choice, there were other avenues left uncharted — other paths she might never take or that would have to be set aside for later.

“Life is too short,” she says. “And there is so much to do.”

Article reprinted with permission from MidWeek Printing, Inc., copyright (c) 2004.

Ka ʻŌlelo A Ka Luna Ho‘omalu

Office of Hawaiian Affairs logo



Message from the Chairperson
On the occasion of OHA’s 30th anniversary.
Apoliona looks to the future through the lens of the past


On the occasion of OHA’s 30th anniversary, Apoliona looks
the future through the lens of the past

By Haunani Apoliona


The past century in Hawai’i included the renaissance of Native Hawaiian history, traditions, language and culture. Native Hawaiians recovered, restored, renewed and recommitted to bringing the best from the time of our Native Hawaiian ancestors into the present; to learn from the past and to chart the future with spiritual strength, patience, focus and discipline.

The 1978 Hawai’i State Constitutional Convention set the groundwork for (1) affirming Hawai’i’s NativeHawaiian legacy through amendments to the State of Hawai’i Constitution, ratified by all Hawai’i voters, (2) acknowledging the State’s historic obligation, embodied in the Admission Act, to improve conditions for Native Hawaiians through ceded land income and revenues; and (3) establishing the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to ensure appropriate outcomes for needs of Native Hawaiian beneficiaries and Hawaiian self-determination.

This following summary of information, while limited in scope, is intended to share a recounting of progress to date by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees, administration and staff with our community at large in preparing the way for rebuilding Native Hawaiian governance and self-determination for the 2010-2020 decade.

The evolution of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs over the past three decades can be characterized as follows:

  • Decade One (1978-1988)
    Formation of OHA: Birth and Infancy steps
  • DecadeTwo (1989-1999)
    Struggle for recognition and legitimacy: Growing pains
  • DecadeThree (2000-2010)
    Improving oversight management; and preparing for rebuilding Native Hawaiian governance

As we bring closure to this present decade (2000-2010), both OHA and the Hawaiian community approach the culmination of a historic outcome – passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act – a culmination of initial preparationsfor reestablishing recognized Native Hawaiian governance. Outlined in this partial summary are accomplishments and outcomes in four critical areas achieved in this decade:

A. Operational efficiency and planned outcomes at Board, administration/staff and community levels.

B. Advocacy for passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act and initial preparation for rebuilding of Native Hawaiian self-governance and local and national community well-being.

C. Provision of significant financial support to several State agencies and the University of Hawai‘i in responding to Native Hawaiian needs for services and programs reaching beyond OHA’s own initiatives in community grants.

D. Engagementin legal challenges made against Native Hawaiians and OHA to protect lands, resources and rights for future generations of Native Hawaiians.

Note: Detailed information on items in this summary are documented in OHA files and much more information is available on OHA’s web site www.oha.org.


A. Strengthened and stabilized OHA administration/staff and Board of Trustees operations to maximize efficiency, effectiveness and quality of performance make significant impact in achieving identified goals.

  1. Improved community perception/appreciation/reputation/respect for its mission as OHA:
  • Established a diverse information and communication network for Native Hawaiians, Hawai‘i and beyond through a monthly newspaper, weekday morning interactive radio shows, regular ‘ŌLELO television panel interviews, an interactive portal/television station link, special issue public televised forums, community meetings and press conferences; community relations positively and credibly built by OHA as demonstrated in website information access, media articles, video commentary and forums, requests from business and community groups for presentations about Native Hawaiian issues, education of policymakers and public agencies and much more.
  • Reduced negative public exchanges between Trustees with improved internal BOT cohesiveness is evidenced by minutes of regular public Trustee meetings, media commentary and editorial, State Auditor’s comments, investment and financial regulators, e-mails, telephone calls and letters received from active as well as would-be OHA partners, and feedback from our beneficiaries.
Funding Amounts to State Agencies and UH

Please note in the table above, OHA has provided anoteworthy amount of funding to State agencies, including the University of Hawai’i. We have attempted to address
identlfied needs as our resources permitted.

  1. Increased organizational stability and operational efficiency
  • In August 2001,BOT hired a new OHA Administrator to reorganize and improve operations for implementing BOT policies and mission-driven decisions. After observed positive outcomes and the resulting stability the BOT extended ADM’s contractual time frame to 2012.
  • Adopted (Feb. 13, 2002) priority mission and goals for OHA and developed and implemented OHA Strategic Plan for 2002- 2007, withan extension to 2008-2009, and initiated the Managing For Results (MFR) paradigm Strategic Plan for 2010-2016.
  • Reorganized internal organizational structure and systems ranging from: initiating Hale divisions replaced for 2010-2016 by Line of Business divisions; refining PPBS budgeting systems; upgrading computer and records management systems,etc.
  • Revised/updated operational and policy manuals for clarity, documented current practices,refined forms/procedures in written and electronic format with plans for an increasingly “paperless” operation.
  • BOT established policies improved findings and outcomes acknowledged by the State Legislative Auditor’s reports for 2000, 2004,2008.
  • RevisedBOT standing committee structure from five to two: 2000-2002 (Program Management; Legislative/Government Affairs; Land; Policy & Planning; Budget & Finance); 2003 to date (BAE –Beneficiary Advocacy & Empowerment Committee and ARM – Asset & Resource Management Committee.) Productivity and timely Board actions are achieved through recommendations from these two standing committees on which all nine Trustees sit. Board and Committee Leadership remaining stable from 2000 to the present.
  • Initiated on April 8, 2003, a new investment policy process using the “manager of managers” approach with Goldman Sachs and Frank Russell as investment portfolio managers with periodic and prudent amendment to OHA investment policies and procedures.

B. Initiated successful advocacy for passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act and prepared for rebuilding of systems and recovery of resources and assets for meaningful Native Hawaiian self-governance and self sufficiency.

  1. Demonstrated responsible and culturally based Native Hawaiian advocacy and contributions within a multicultural Hawai‘i society.
  • Established in 2003 OHA’s Washington, D.C, Bureau. Through its Washington, D.C., Bureau, the Governance division and other staff activities, OHA has educated policymakers and federal agencies about Native Hawaiians and gained support for OHA’s efforts nationally: established memoranda of agreements, resolutions of support and collaborative relations with national indigenous and numerous ethnic groups, public and private agencies, profit and nonprofit organizations and individuals across the United States and Pacific nations. OHA has become more visible in the U.S. capital and in the halls of Congress. Information on Hawaiian history and issues has been more broadly disseminated in the nation’s capital. OHA’s D.C. Bureau facilitated establishment of the Ke Ali‘i Maka‘āinana Hawaiian Civic Club, of the AOHCC.
  1. Recovered Resources and Assets For Self-Governance and Self-Sufficiency
  • Achieved ceded lands revenue increases through continuous Native Hawaiian advocacy.
  • In 2003, the Hawai’i State Legislature through Act 34, agreed to increase annual transfers to OHA from zero to $9.5 million for the State’s use of ceded lands.
  • In 2006 ,Act 178 was passed by the Legislature that provided $17.5 million in back payment from July 2001 to June 2005 and approved increasing annual transfers to OHA from $9.5 million to $15.1 million for the State’s use of ceded lands. Act 178 also required that DLNR “shall provide an accounting of all receipts from lands described in section 5(f) of the Admission Act for the prior fiscal year.”
  • Restructured the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund (“Trust Fund”), valued at $255 million at 2003 inception, to streamline the management and oversight process, which resulted in a peak 74 percent gain in portfolio value just prior to the financial crisis and market downtown. The OHA Trust Fund investments, along with countless others, suffered significant setbacks during the financial crisis that began in 2008. Despite the stress in the economy, OHA managed to outperform its peer institutional public funds, endowments and foundations coming out of the down turn and has continued to fund grants and programs for our community. At present in this recovery period, the Trust Fund operates at a 61 percent value increase since the 2003 inception.
  • Earned increased prominence for protecting Hawai‘i’s natural resources and environment through acquisition of significant land and property while ensuring responsible resource management and regulations which are culturally and environmentally pono. Specifically, the acquisition of 26,000 acres of pristine conservation forest lands of Wao Kele 0 Puna on Hawai’i Island (2005) and 1,800 acres of Waimea Valley Park on O’ahu (2006) for approximately $2.9 million of a total $14 million sale in partnership with State Department of Land and Natural Resources, the U.S. Army, and City and County of Honolulu to protect into perpetuity these Native Hawaiian lands achieving educational goals and ensuring archeological and cultural well-being.
  • Advocated successfully for protection of Nā Wai ‘Ehā water resources in Maui County.
  • Supported successful legislation from 2007-2009 to exempt kuleana lands from real property taxes in Hawai‘i, Maui, O‘ahu and Kaua’i counties.
  • Assisted in coordinating statewide community input meetings and participated in inaugural U.S. Department of Defense training to produce protocols for consulting with Native Hawaiians on armed forces projects statewide. In 2010, OHA completed year five of Department of Defense consultation.
  • Adopted in 2006 OHA’sLand Management and Real Estate Policy and in 2007 approved OHA Real Estate Strategy which, in part, enabled careful scrutiny by staff of proposed property transfers for OHA’s Negotiating Team recommendations to BOT decision-making on ceded land matters.
  • Authorized on Dec. 8, 2006, OHA’s participation in Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument management. Also, after Presidential Proclamation of June 2006 designated the area, OHA participated in the renaming in March 2007 of the area as Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and successfully advocated approval of Papahānaumokuākea as a UNESCO World Heritage site, in Brasilia, Brazil, July 2010. OHA continues to advocate for OHA’s inclusion as a Co-Trustee for Papahānaumokuākea.
  1. Invested significant resources in community building and preparation for emergence of Native Hawaiian governing entity.
  • Strengthened collaboration and mutual supportwith the other Native Hawaiian public trust, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, through BOT approval of: pilot project for bond guarantees for home replacements (2005); DHHL Home Owners Assistance Program (2007); and after three years of discussions, on June 4, 2008, OHA Trustees approved up to $90 million in loan guarantee (debt service of $3 million a year for 30 years) to DHHL for development of housing and regional plans for homesteaders. OHA payments to DHHL to date total $6 million.
  • BOT terminated Operation ‘Ohana in 2002 and replaced it with the OHA Hawaiian Registry, 27,681 persons.
  • Encouraged the development of KAU INOA Native Hawaiian registration efforts, with nearly 109,000 registered, as a major step toward building a Native Hawaiian governing entity and facilitating community development toward self-determination.
  • Supported from 2004 through 2006 convening of meetings of a Native Hawaiian Coalition “to establish a process that would provide people with a mechanism for achieving self-governance through self-determination.” This provided initial community input on suggested steps to rebuilding a nation.
  • Established the Consumer Micro-Loan Program for emergencies, which has assisted 285 recipients with more than $1,385,000.
  • Initiated the Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund in 1989 to improve access and expedite assistance to Native applicants for business, home improvements and education.
  • Redesigned in 2007 OHA’s Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund as Mālama Loan Program with approval by federal grantor Administration for Native Americans to enable easier and faster access to more beneficiaries for businesses, home improvements and education. Since 1989, 1,219 recipients have been assisted for a total of $36.9 million.
  • Invested in the Native Hawaiian community by funding grants to community-based projects and initiatives in the effort to build capacity and success for our beneficiaries through education, health, human services, economic development and diverse areas. Increased amounts over the decade, from $1,095,589 in 2003 and $10,678,750 in 2009 resulting in a cumulative total of over $61.5 million, with the 2010 total yet to be completed for the decade. Obtained in 2008 federal government designation as a Hawai‘i Procurement Technology Assistance Center.
  • Provided in 2008 approximately $2.2 million to the Bishop Museum for restoration of Hawaiian Hall.
  • Provided $150,000 (2005) to King William Charles Lunalilo Home for the Kupuna Continuing Care Assurance Program to serve elderly Native Hawaiians and $150,000 (2010) for restoration/renovation of King Lunalilo’s tomb.
  • Provided a total of $1 million during 2006-2008 to Kawaiaha‘o Church for renovations to its historic structure and surroundings for a community service facility.
  • BOT approved on Jan. 14, 2008, capitalization of Hi’ilei Aloha LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) to manage OHA projects on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu and Hawai‘i Island, such as Hi’ipoi LLC (Makaweli Poi Factory), Hi’ipaka LLC (Waimea Valley). Additional OHA LLC are being established.
  • Advocated and supported from 1996-2010, efforts for congressional enactment of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (NHGRA) introduced by the Hawai‘i Congressional Delegation in various forms as: S. 2899/H.R. 4904 (2000); S. 746/H.R. 617 (2001); S. 344 (2003-4); S.147/H.R. 309 (2005); S. 3064 (2006); S. 310/H.R. 505 (2007-2008); S. 1011/H.R. 2314 (2009-2010).

C. Provided strong financial support to several State Agencies and the University of Hawai‘i in responding to Native Hawaiian needs for services and programs.

  • State agencies provided OHA funding support include: DHHL, DOE,DOH,DAGS, Hawai’i State Hospital and Hawaiian Tourism Authority, as well as the University of Hawai‘i.
  • During the past six years OHA has provided $26,251,490 in funding to a number of State of Hawai’i agencies and the University of Hawai’i.

D. Significant legal challenges against OHA and Native Hawaiians were met by encouraging judicial outcomes. Appropriate research and legal strategies were initiated for transition to nationhood and long-term outcomes for Native Hawaiians and future generations. During the last 10 years, there have been milestone legal decisions, court proclamations and negotiated settlements. OHA was also named as a defendant in 118 kuleana quiet title actions pursuant to HRS§560:2-105.5 (Escheat of kuleana lands). Numerous significant legal decisions, which merit further discussion, follow below:

  • Election of Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustees must be open to all Hawai‘i voters, not only Native Hawaiians, in compliance with the 15th amendment of the U.S.Constitution. (U.S.Supreme Court- Feb.23, 2000) Reference: Rice v. Cayetano, 528US495, 120S. Ct. 1044 (2000).
  • OHA Trustees have not breached their fiduciary trust responsibilities on “use” for one or more section S(f) purposes. Reference: Day, et al. v. Apoliona, et al., No. 08-16704; D.C. No.l:05CV-00649, SOM-BMK (9th Cir., July 26,2010).
  •  OHA expenditures for support of the Akaka Bill and other programs (Native Hawaiian Legal Corp.. ALU LIKE. Inc. and Nā Pua No’eau are consistent with federal law. Reference: Day, et al. v. Apoliona, et aI., No. 08-16704;D.C. No.l:05-CV-00649, SOM-BMK (9th Cir., July 26, 2010).
  • OHA’s federal trust obligation validates that the OHA Trustees have broad discretion and latitude in determining use of its Public Land Trust funds. Reference: Day, et al. v. Apoliona, et al., No. 08-16704; D.C. No. 1:05-CV-00649. SOM-BMK (9th Cir., July 26,2010).
  •  The court asserted its earlier proclamation that it is incumbent upon the State Legislature to enact legislation that gives effect to the right of Native Hawaiians to benefit from the ceded land trust, and OHA should look to the Legislature for relief. (Hawai’i Supreme Court – April 2006) Reference: Office of Hawaiian Affairs v. State of Hawai‘i (ll) 110 Hawai‘i at 363. 133 P.3d at 792 (2006).
  •  A negotiated settlement in November 2008 between OHA and U.S. Army includes procedures to facilitate a meaningful consultation between OHA and the Army concerning the identification, evaluation and protection of Native Hawaiian cultural resources affected by Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) transformation-related activities (lawsuit filed on Nov. L4, 2006, lawsuit dismissed Nov. 5, 2008). Reference: Office of Hawaiian Affairs v. Gates, et al., Civil No. 06-00610.U.S. District Court, District of Hawai‘i.
  •  Plaintiffs asked the Court to declare that OHA and HRS Chapter 10 as unconstitutional, that DHHL is unconstitutional, that funds held by OHA and DHHL revert to Slate general funds as state property, and that all funds which revert to the general fund can be used at the discretion of the Governor. The final outcome in the (OHA I) case was the Court’s decision, which did not permit taxpayer standing to be used as a basis for bringing a federal lawsuit with those claims. Reference: Arakaki v. Cayetano, aka Arakaki v. Lingle, 477 F.3d 1048 (9th Circuit, Feb. 9. 2007).
  • OHA sought payment from Slate of Hawai‘i’s pro-rata share of Public Land Trust revenues from contested sources not settled in the 1993 Memorandum of Agreement. In light of the Forgiveness Act, Act 304 was repealed . Reference : Office of Hawaiian Affairs v. State, 96 Hawai‘i 388, 31 P.3d 901 (September, 2001) (“OHA I” filed Jan. 14, 1994).
  • A restraining order and preliminary injunction against OHA expending its funds was sought by the plaintiffs. The Court deemed the lawsuit “completely frivolous” on July 1, 2008, and dismissed the case. Reference: Kuroiwa v. Linda Lingle, et al, Civil No. 08-0153 JMS-KSC. U.S. District Court, District of Hawai’i (filed April 3, 2008).
  •  Plaintiff John Carroll and Plaintiff Patrick Barrett sought to enjoin the State of Hawai‘i and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs from expending OHA funds. Cases were consolidated “sub nom” Carroll v Nakatani. The Court ruled that plaintiff had no standing and affirmed on Sept.2, 2003. Reference: Carroll v. Nakatani, 342 F.3d 934 (9th Cir. Sept. 2, 2003) (filed Oct. 2 and Oct. 3, 2000).
  •  Officeof Hawaiian Affairs asked the Court to require an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement)for the six outrigger telescopes for the Keck project on Mauna Kea and sought declaratory and injunctive relief. The Court found the existing EA (Environmental Assessment) insufficient and ruled in favor of OHA, Aug. 29, 2003. NASA voluntarily prepared an EIS. OHA responded during the comment period and ASA responded to comments in its final EIS. Reference: Office of Hawaiian Affairs v. O’Keefe (NASA) et al., CivilNo. 02·00227 SOM-BMA. U.S. District Court, District of Hawai’i (filed April 22, 2002).
  •  OHA sued to enjoin Housing and Finance Development Corp. (now Housing Community Development Corp. of Hawai‘i) from saleof ceded lands until claims of Native Hawaiians are resolved by the government. Also, former crown lands “Leali‘i Parcel,” which HFDC received approval to remove from section 5(f) trust.The Hawai’i Supreme Court held that OHA prevailed by showing that “Congress has clearly recognized that the Native Hawaiian people have unrelinquished claims over the ceded lands which were taken without consent or compensation and which the Native Hawaiian people are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations.”The U.S. Supreme Court held that the Apology Resolution could not be read to “create a retroactive ‘cloud’ on the title [of the ceded lands] that Congress granted to me State of Hawai‘i in 1959. “However, the Court found that it ‘had no authority to decide questions of Hawaiian (i.e. State) law or to provide redress for past wrongs except as provided for by federal law.’” OHA agreed to settlement of the case with the State by agreeing to passage by the State Legislature of S.B. 1677, S.D. 1, later signed into law by Gov. Linda Lingle as Act 176 on July 13, 2009. Reference: State of Hawai‘i et al. v. Office of Hawaiian Affairset al.,129S.Ct. 1436 (2009).
  • The Board of Education (BOE) and OHA in May 2000 entered into an agreement to settle the lawsuit brought by OHA on behalf of Kula Kaiapuni – Hawaiian Language Immersion Program. Terms of the agreement called for the DOE to increase funding Hawaiian language programs from $800,000 to $1 million annually for five years. OHA was to provide matching funds on a 1:2 ratio basis ($400,000 to $500,000 a year) for five years. Also, the DOE was to provide OHA with financial and program reports for monitoring and evaluation purposes for the five years. Reference: Office ofHawaiian Affairs. et al. v. Department of Education, et al., Civil No. ICC 85-0-002970, U.S. District Court, District of Hawai‘i.
  •  Contested case hearing was initiated involving concern over establishment of Interim In-stream Flow Standards to restore flow to four Maui streams: Wai‘ehu Stream, Waihe‘e Stream, ‘lao River and Waikapū Stream – collectively called “Nā Wai ‘Ehā,” OHA intervention was granted June 20, 2006. Commission on Water Resource Management Decision and Order issued June 10, 2010. OHA filed its Notice of Appeal on July 12, 2010, as did community groups. CWRM requested and received an extension of time to transmit the Record on Appeal, with the new deadline being Oct. 11, 2010. Reference: ‘lao Ground Water Management Area High-Level Source Water Use Permit Applications and Petition to Amend Interim Instream Flow Standards of Waihe‘e, Wai‘ehu, ‘lao & Waikapū Streams Contested Case Hearing (“IIFS Case”); Case No. CCH-MA-06-01 Commission on Water Resource Management, State of Hawai‘i (filed June 25, 2004).
  •  Petition was filed contesting the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) proposed sale of 65-year lease at public auction of water rights for the use of “Blue Hole” diversions and portions of water transmission system, Līhu‘e-Koloa Forest Reserve (Wailua Section) filed Dec. 10, 2004. OHA started settlement negotiations in June 2005 with applicant Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC). MOA executed in November 2006 with specified conditions. Matter is pending KIUC’s satisfying those conditions so OHA has not withdrawn its petition for a contested case. Reference: no case number.
  •  Contested case hearing was initiated on Moloka‘i in 1977 regarding a petition for a new well at Kamiloloa affecting adjoining aquifers. OHA intervened on the decision by the Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM); appealed it to Supreme Court of Hawai‘i. The Court issued decision in 2004 that recognized and protected water rights of Native Hawaiians, extended protections previously affirmed in the 2000 Waiāhole DitchCase. The Supreme Court ruled against CWRM citing the new well would interfere with rights of DHHL to develop water sources  for the island of Moloka‘i in the future and the CWRM erred in issuing a water permit to the Moloka‘i Ranch. Reference: In re: Wai Ola O Moloka‘i Inc., 103 Hawai‘i, 83 P.3d 664 (2004).

Legal challenges throughout the past three decades have been formidable. More are anticipated. We intend to prevail.


The next decade ahead looks promising but challenging for Hawai‘i. The Native Hawaiian community and Office of Hawaiian Affairs mark a point in our history that requires many more experienced, well-informed, ethical, committed, action-oriented, community-minded “do-ers” in service, not self-service. Intended outcomes demand diligent, disciplined, innovative, values-driven, mutually respectful leaders and participants. No single person can be credited for OHA’s achievements and no single person can be credited for future results; it is a collective effort. Yet, OHA functioning at its highest level of excellence and accountability can serve as a premier tool for the Hawaiian cause. Mahalo nui loa to all who have manifested their love for Hawai‘i nei through their unselfish, strong support for OHA’s mission. Special thanks goes to OHA’s Board of Trustees, administration, staff and volunteers who are responsible for our continuing progress and who will be important to the future of Native Hawaiians and all Hawai‘i nei. We look forward to all citizens of Hawai‘i joining together in building a better Hawai‘i for generations to come.

Civil Beat Candidate Survey: Haunani Apoliona

Candidate Q&A: Office Of Hawaiian Affairs At-Large — Haunani Apoliona


Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 13 primary election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.

The following came from Haunani Apoliona, a candidate for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee at-large position. There are six other candidates, including Daniel Anthony, Kelii Akina, Douglas Crum, Leona Kalima, Kealii Makekau and Paul Mossman.

Go to Civil Beat’s Elections Guide for general information, and check out other candidates on the Primary Election Ballot.

Haunani Apoliona

Haunani Apoliona

Name:  Haunani Apoliona

Office Seeking: Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee  at large 

Occupation: Trustee, Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Community Organizations/prior offices held: Trustee, Office of Hawaiian Affairs since 1996, OHA chairperson 2000-2001 and 2002-2010; OHA Resource Management vice-chairperson 2015 to present; OHA vice-chairperson, 1997-1998; ALU LIKE, president/CEO, 1991-1997, operations director, 1989-1990, Oahu Island Center administrator, 1982-1987, counselor employment and training, intake placement, community specialist positions, 1978-1982; National Museum of the American Indian; Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum; Nature Conservancy; Queen Emma Foundation; Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu; Queen Liliʻuokalani Children’s Center Advisory; Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce

Place of residence: Waahila

Campaign websitewww.apoliona.org

1. This year has seen an outsized influence from people who want big changes in how government is run. What would you do to change how OHA is run?

First, The Hawaii State Constitution Article XII, Sections 5 & 6 affirms OHAʻs mandates, powers and duties. Second, the Statutory powers and duties for OHA in HRS Chapter 10 identifies it as “a separate entity independent of the executive branch” and otherwise acts as a trustee as provided by law. 

Breach of fiduciary trust duties are sanctioned by Trustees and warrant recall by Native Hawaiian beneficiaries. 

To date, OHA prepared the foundation which ensures Native Hawaiian perpetuation of natural resources, self-sufficiency, recognition and support nationally and globally, e.g. increased income and proceeds for OHA via Act 34, Act 178; established OHA Washington D.C. Bureau to advocate N.H. interests  nationally with informed networks; acquired Wao Kele O Puna, Waimea Valley, in perpetuity; protected Na Wai EhA, public trust; returned Kalaniopuu Cape, provided substantial grant funds to Hawaiian agencies and beneficiaries and much, much more.    

For 2016, accountability for N.H.s includes: Public Land Trust Strategy Fund; CEO Fiscal Sustainability Plan; Strategic Plan updates (i.e. Land and Property Holdings, LLCs); N.H. Self-Determination efforts; and Co-Trusteeship of Papahanaumokuakea to ensure Native Hawaiians and Hawaii are  recognized and protected.

2. Hawaii has long been dominated by the Democratic Party establishment. Should this change, and if so, how?

Political party domination grows over scores of years with control over multiple factors. You are asking for a strategy that more than one political party has attempted to design and accomplish for decades. Certainly, there should be respectful adversarial political positions represented by honest, ethical elected officials and the electorate. However, the current political climate is no longer respectful nor completely honest or ethical. 

Based upon media coverage people perceive that in Congress legislation to properly address the critical issues is deferred or stonewalled or somehow neutralized. It appears that the right or “pono” thing to do is no longer the primary priority. Instead, how to make the other party look bad is the focus and intent of action or inaction on national legislation.

Unfortunately, misinformation in excessive coverage by the media increasingly dupes the ill-informed citizens to believe dishonest statements by public figures. The root of the problem is far deeper than party affiliation. It is an absence of “core values” which are modeled by family members, mentors , favorite public figures who work in “service and not self-service” and others in the existing “broken” socio-economic environment. There is no easy solution today.

3. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?

A claim of “in the public interest” is extremely important as a measure for transparency and accountability to the community at large. If access to pubic records will provide information that is essential and that will be used responsibly and not for financial, political or other business and personal gain the fee for access should not be exorbitant. Conversely, there should be a significant fine or penalty when misuse or abuse of such access occurs.

4. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication? 

Annually, OHA trustees convene community meetings the night before each neighbor island meeting, as a basic practice. There should be additional opportunities for trustee discussions, especially with neighbor island citizens. Therefore, OHA, by policy, should require each island trustee to hold a meeting with beneficiaries on his/her island at least once in each quarter or semi-annually during the year  to “listen” to their concerns. As a follow-up of each neighbor island community meeting the trustee should issue an open letter summarizing concerns raised, the action taken, if needed, and additional information requested by our beneficiary participants.

The OHA CEO would ensure that highlights of the neighbor island quarterly or semi-annual meetings are regularly reflected in brief within the Ka Wai Ola for all Hawaii. All trustees without excuses should consistently publish their trustee column in the Ka Wai Ola monthly. Thus far, it has been sporadic. OHAʻs consistent practice to stream “live” all neighbor island community and board meetings, statewide along with all Oahu-based standing committee and Board of Trustee meetings, statewide as well, have and will further improve communications. 

5. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it? 

There are numerous issues of concern like homelessness and the plight of the diminishing “middle class.” Numerous pressing issues include the health and well being of individuals, families, households, neighborhoods, communities, jurisdictions, districts, counties, the State of Hawaii and the “state of Hawaii” being impacted internationally and globally.

A timely example is President Obama’s expected expansion of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. “On (Thursday), May 26, 2016 the OHA – Board of Trustees passed an action by majority vote to conditionally support the proposed expansion of PMNP provided that 1. OHA is elevated to a Co-Trustee position; 2. The cultural significance of the expansion area to Native Hawaiians is recognized; and 3. There is no boundary expansion southeast towards the islands of Niihau and Kauai.” “The proposed boundary expansion provides an opportunity to correct a flaw in the co-management structure for PMNM and ensure that the Native Hawaiian interests are represented at every level of policy and decision making. As significant expansion of the monumentʻs is being considered, it is even more important to ensure that the Native Hawaiian voice is appropriately represented at all levels of co-management for the kupuna islands.”

6. Is OHA fulfilling its mandate to serve the Hawaiian people?

Yes, OHA is performing its mandate, but not enough is being done due to internal and external barriers such as: limited OHA resources; costs of threatened and actual litigation; weak support by Congress of Native Hawaiian issues; lack of readiness for common resolutions by some community leaders or groups; need for improved communication methods and means for disseminating accurate information and facts to leaders and the public; need for increased scholarships, grants and training of potential youth/communities; etc.

More is being done each day to fulfill OHA’s mandate, mission and vision for Native Hawaiians and Hawaii in the global context, as well.

7. What are your views regarding Hawaiian independence?

The nation building strategy initiated in 2015 by Native Hawaiians appeared headed for the election of delegates and the convening of an ‘Aha (Native Hawaiian convention).  The ongoing pursuit of nation building was forced to redirect its efforts due to litigation filed by the Grassroot Institute and two additional Native Hawaiians in federal court (case of Akina v Hawaii) to halt the planned convention. Ironically or maybe not, two of the three Native Hawaiian litigants suing OHA (Akina and Makekau) are now seeking election to the OHA Board of Trustees in 2016. A draft of the Native Hawaiian constitution and referendum remains a work in progress. As a current OHA trustee I am committed to OHA’s majority-approved position. However, as a re-elected trustee, I am committed to refining existing strategies consistent with additional input we seek from the majority of Native Hawaiians.

8. Are you satisfied with the way OHA has negotiated with the state over ceded-land revenues?

From the creation of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs by the state constitutional amendment in 1978, OHA and the state of Hawaii have disagreed over what portion of the income and proceeds from the public land trust should be transferred to OHA.

The year 1993 secured a partial settlement. State of Hawaii Judiciary impacted 1996-2000 OHA negatively, by the legislative and executive branches diminishing OHA revenues. In 2000 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Rice v Cayetano, 2001 Court overturned Heely decision on OHA revenues. In 2001, Cayetano stops all OHA payments. In 2003, new governor reinstates the undisputed OHA payments, discussions renew on past-due Public Land Trust payments. Act 178  (2006) codifies annual payments along with  $17.5 million through E.O. In 2012, new governor transfers 9 parcels of approximately 30 acres (Kakaako Makai) to OHA. On deck next is, HCR No. 188, 2016, “Urging the convening of a public land trust revenue negotiating Committee.” In the future, it would be the responsibility of elected leaders of the Native Hawaiian governing entity to renegotiate or litigate the ceded lands revenues matter for all Native Hawaiians.

9. Why do you think Hawaiians are disproportionately represented in our prisons and jails? What can be done about it?

“The disproportionate impact of the criminal justice system on Native Hawaiians accumulates at each stage. Native Hawaiians are more likely to receive a sentence of incarceration over probation.” (2010 Report The Disparate Treatment of Native Hawaiians in the Criminal Justice System, produced by OHA, in collaboration with UH Manoa, Justice Policy Institute and Georgetown University). In order to better delineate future policy decisions relating to Native Hawaiians in the criminal justice system, “The State needs to identify what data needs to be collected at different points in the system, improve data integration, and improve data infrastructure amongst state agencies. Further study, including additional control variables, would provide a richer understanding of why N.H,’s remain disproportionately represented …..”.

Correctional institutions with ongoing efforts toward education and training inmates for viable jobs and for strengthening their self-image have had some positive results in reducing recidivism. However, earlier intervention in training and modeling of Native Hawaiian values and practices for Native Hawaiian youth and families should be of highest priority with greater positive impact on lifestyles. The outcome would be reduction in delinquency and crimes as well as totally avoiding entry into the criminal justice system.

E Hoʻokanaka, Be a person of worth.

10. Do you support the construction of the TMT telescope atop Mauna Kea?

OHA’s Board of Trustees has approved the following position regarding the TMT telescope atop Mauna Kea: “The Board of Trustees rescinds its support of the selection of Maunakea, Hawaiʻi, as the site for the proposed Thirty-Meter Telescope Project.”

Until further action is taken by OHA, Native Hawaiians and the community at large await the testimony, legal briefs, hearings and court rulings, and trustee deliberations.

As a current trustee, it would be inappropriate for me to take any position other than that of the majority-approved one. As a re-elected trustee, I am committed to reassessing and refining OHA’s position consistent with additional input from the majority of the Native Hawaiian community.

Apoliona for OHA 2016 Radio Spots

Haunani Apoliona Radio 30 General 1

Haunani Apoliona Radio 30 General 2

Haunani Apoliona Radio 30 General 3

Haunani Apoliona Radio 30 General Maui

Star-Advertiser Candidate Survey

Haunani Apoliona

Full Name: Suzanne Haunani Apoliona

Name on Ballot: Haunani Apoliona

District: Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee at large

Age: 67

Current Job: Trustee, Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Place of birth: Kalaepohaku

Campaign website: www.apoliona.org

Job history past 10 years:

OHA trustee: 1996 to present, OHA chairwoman 2000-2010, OHA vice chairwoman 1997, OHA Resource Management Committee vice chairwoman 2015 to present. ALU LIKE Inc.: 1978 to 1997 (employment and training counselor0, intake placement specialist, community specialist, Oʻahu Island Center Administrator, Planner Health and Social Services, Program Operations Director), ALU LIKE President/CEO 1991-1997.

Ever run for public office? If so, when? Outcome?

Aloha e nā kamaāina a me nā malihini o Hawaiʻi nei.Ae. Yes, I was elected trustee at-large for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for the first time in November 1996.

Since then, I have been re-elected 4 additional times. I now humbly seek re-election for 2016-2020. Mahalo nui for your support.

Other civic experience or community service?

Queen Emma Foundation, Queen Liliʻuokalani Childrenʻs Center, Nature Conservancy, Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, National Museum of the American Indian, Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu, Hongpa Hongwanji Living Treasure, Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement, Maryknoll H.S. Lifetime Achievement, UH Distinguished Alumni, Native Hawaiian Chamber, National Association of Social Workers.

Anything else you’d like voters to know about you?

My dad Eugene Apoliona (Liliha) attended St. Louis, my mom Anne Grote Apoliona, (Koʻolaupoko, Kāneʻohe) attended Sacred Hearts Academy. Education was supported. Completion of higher education by my brother, sister and me, was essential and expected. Hawaiʻi is and always will be “HOME” (kuʻu kulaʻiwi).

What makes you qualified to be a trustee of OHA?

Kuleana, disciplined, fair and ethical treatment of self and others to achieve priorities individually and collectively, instilled by my parents, guided my education of 20 years, my 20 years of nonprofit, statewide work with ALU LIKE, and my 20 years of “ELECTED” public service to OHA for Native Hawaiians.

What are your top five priorities for OHA?

Five Priorities Include: OHA CEO Fiscal Sustainability Plan 2016, OHA Strategic Plan For 2016 -2020 (inclusive of Land and Property Holdings along with LLCs), 2016 OHA Income and Proceeds of the Public Land Trust Strategy, Native Hawaiian Self-Determination, and 2016 OHA Co-Trusteeship of Papahānaumokuākea National Marine Monument.

What is your one big idea?

To build upon family and community strengths, expand methods, resources, strategies and programs that will transform and offset current societal directions of materialistic priorities, self-importance and self-interest to embrace and respect cultural values and ethical practices in life style and socioeconomic, environmental matters.

Why are you running for trustee?

My purpose and professional commitment has been and still is about empowering Native Hawaiians and strengthening Hawaiʻi. Four decades of experience, trust and credibility that I have established with beneficiaries and all Hawaiʻi supports OHA in contributing to an overall environment where Native Hawaiians advance opportunity to thrive.

Gov. David Ige has said residential development should not be allowed on the Kakaako Makai lands that were turned over to OHA by the state. How do you believe those lands should be used or developed?

OHA Kakaʻako Makai planning continues. If state and county plans can satisfy O`ahuʻs housing concerns upon which OHAʻs initial plans are focused, OHA could enable vertical integration of mechanisms and expertise to address Pacific region and global methods as as a means for impacting World Peace.

ILWU Endorses Apoliona for OHA 2016

Ka Wai Ola Candidate Survey 2016

July 2016 Ka Wai Ola cover



Opportunity must be aligned with a community readiness commited to achieve accountable outcomes for positive change to occur.

Physical, mental and spiritual health of our Lahui, tested over time by diverse issues, stifled collaborative solutions for common concerns.

Opportunities exist now for identified and willing Native Hawaiian leaders and collective people power, resources and a shared commitment to solutions to entice Native Hawaiian leaders

of two major land preservation trusts — Kamehameha Schools and The Nature Conservancy (Hawai’i) to collaborate with Native Hawaiians in implementing an environmental strategic plan for Hawaiian lands guiding generations to come.

Opportunities exist now for OHA scholarships, educational/ community development grants to expand mentoring of leader and worker skills in planning and implementing community and nation building capabilities for state, national and global impact.

Opportunities await our collaborative attention.

Readiness in communities, with OHA collaborating, is the key.



The nation building strategy initiated in 2015 by Native Hawaiians appeared headed for the election of delegates and convening of an ʻAha (Native Hawaiian Convention). The ongoing pursuit of nation building was forced to strategically redirect its efforts due to litigation filed by the “Grass Roots Institute” and two additional Native Hawaiians in Federal Court to halt the planned Convention. Ironically, two of the three Native Hawaiian litigants suing OHA are now running for election to OHA in 2016. A draft Constitution and Referendum by registered Native Hawaiians are planned and nation building remains a work in progress.

As a current OHA Trustee I am committed to OHA’s majority-approved position. However, as a re-elected Trustee I am committed to refining existing strategies consistent with additional input we seek from the majority of Native Hawaiians.


Native Hawaiian ancestors foresaw the role of our Lāhui to ensure survival of our cultural values by enabling mutual respect and peaceful collaboration among nations (and cultures) of the world. Native leaders dispatched to other global communities engaged and learned skills in readiness for impacting Hawaiʻiʻs future.

Modern technology enables Native Hawaiians to witness peoples and cultures without even leaving Hawaiʻi yet understand that person-to-person contact is the preferred medium of communication.

PVS’s Hokule’a world voyage (supported by OHA) is a critical base from which Hawai’i’s impact on island nations and global survival is crucial.

OHA’s decade role with Papahanaumokuakea and its global status is a catalyst for expeditiously investigating the rising ocean tides issue which gravely affects Hawaiʻi and Pacific archipelagos and adds cultivation of marine resources (on land and in ocean) critical to the lifelines of island nations globally.

The East-West Center and the UH Matsunaga Peace Institute provide Native Hawaiians (and Pacific islanders) an institutional arena for mediation centers to address resolving differences/disputes among island nations and global countries.

League of Women Voters 2016 Election Guide

Haunani Apoliona

Office Running For:
Office of Hawaiian Affairs, At-Large

Public Administration Certificate,1989 Masters Social Work (MSW): 1974 to 1976; Double Bachelors (Sociology and Liberal Arts –Hawaiian Studies)1968-1974, Maryknoll 1967
Community Service
OHA: 1996 to present, OHA Chairperson 2000-2010. ALU LIKE, Inc.: 1978 through 1997, served as ALU LIKE President and Chief Executive Officer 1991 until 1997.
Web Site
Please provide a brief Candidate Statement (250 words or less).
Aloha e nā kamaʻāina a me nā malihini mai ka mokupuni a Keawe a hiki i ka `āina o Kahelelani a Papahanaumokuākea. ʻO wau no o Haunani Apoliona, he ʻōiwi Hawaiʻi, hānau wau ma Oʻahu nei. Aloha to all, statewide, I am Haunani Apoliona and I am running for my 6th term as OHA Trustee-At-Large. I served as OHAʻs Board Chairperson from 2000-2010 and am OHAʻs longest serving Chairperson thus far. My father, Eugene Apoliona grew up in Liliha, Oʻahu and attended Saint Louis College. My mother, Anne Meta Grote was born and raised in Koʻolaupoko, Kāneʻohe and attended Sacred Hearts Academy. My parents raised their three children at Ka Lae Pohaku, our ʻāina hānau (homeland). Education was important to our parents and completion of higher education by my brother, sister and me, was supported and expected. My mom and dad modeled for us sound family values, “respect for elders and kuleana, honesty, fair and ethical treatment of self and others, working hard with sense of discipline and discernment to achieve priorities, individually and collectively, internally and externally, for peace.” Native Hawaiians and all of Hawaiʻi, from Papahānaumokuakea in the north to Loihi in the south, are crucial to lōkahi, striving for balance and well being. For me, Hawaiʻi has been, is and always will be “home”, “Hawaiʻi no ia, kuʻu one hānau”. Me ka mahalo a nui.

Why are you running for this office?
1) There exists urgent ongoing business for the OHA Trust and our beneficiaries that must be addressed: The 2016 State Legislature enacted HCR 188 (House Concurrent Resolution: Urging The Convening Of A Public Land Trust Revenues Negotiating Committee) placed within the Office of the Governor with a Committee comprised of Governor, Senate President, House Speaker, and OHA Chairperson for the purpose of resolving the matter of the income and proceeds from the public land trust that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs shall receive annually under the State Constitution and other state law. My service tenure, knowledge and previous OHA leadership as Chair (2000-2010) will provide substantial and critical insight to Trustee deliberations. 2) Native Hawaiian self-determination remains a work in progress, yet is essential for the future of not only Native Hawaiians but all of Hawaiiʻi. As a current Trustee I am committed to OHAʻs majority-approved position. However. as a re-elected Trustee I am committed to refining existing strategies consistent with additional input we seek from the majority of Native Hawaiians. These matters and more guide my running for OHA..

What are your top two goals and how will you achieve them?
Two Goals: 1) To successfully complete efforts to elevate OHA to the Co-Trustee position for Papahānaumokuakea Marine Monument (PMNM). This is a significant step in ensuring that Native Hawaiians (and Hawaiʻi) interests are appropriately represented at all levels of co-management — policy and decision-making. Itʻs a crucial reminder to world nations of the importance of this Pacific area and that Native Hawaiians and Pacific people must not be overlooked in global decisions. Hawaiʻiʻs survival and future well-being depends on this inclusive and collaborative atmosphere. 2) To build upon methods, resources and programs which will ensure the critical role of cultural values, ethical practices to basic lifestyles of current and future generations of families, communities, leaders and government. Failing to change now and allowing self-importance and self-interest sacrifices Hawaiʻi for future generations.

The League of Women Voters of Hawai`i County reserves the right to review all responses and edit for clarity and content.  We will contact you if changes need to be made. 

UPW Endorses Apoliona for OHA 2016

Carpenters Endorse Apoliona for OHA 2016

Ke Ola O Na Mele Newsletter Article

Ke Ola O Na Mele newsletter

An interview with Local 677 member: Haunani Apoliona


Issues facing Hawaiian musicians who perform Hawaiian music are diverse. One immediate challenge is balancing Hawaiian music performance to maintain the integrity of the culture/tradition of the art versus existence and marketing as mere entertainment to support and sustain one economically. A unified voice is needed to rally such support for the value, dignity and honor of Hawaiian music, which in many venues here in Hawai’i is “devalued” as not commercial enough. That has resulted in lack of presence and representation in recording, media and live venues, such as hotels especially, even- tually leading to the disappearance and extinction of consistent and thriving “live” Hawaiian music performance.

So many Hawaiian musicians have to leave home, traveling to Asia, to survive musically. The perceived lack of commu- nity interest, limited radio play, lack of performance and sales venues, dilution of Hawaiian music by the increased play of non-Hawaiian music, and “devaluing” of the Hawaiian musicians’ role are some obvious issues facing Hawaiian musicians today. These are but a few thoughts on the issues raised by your question. Each Hawaiian Musicianʻs story is unique and each musician you ask will identify shared concerns as well as concerns special and distinct to their own professional experiences.


Being a member of the Musicians’ Union is confirmation of a brotherhood/sisterhood and inclusion in a coordinated effort to ensure that issues of importance to our industry and business find a collective and unified voice to advance fair play and productivity for positive results, always. A single voice, combined with many voices can be a profound tool for social action. I appreciate the Musicians’ Union providing me this opportunity to share my manaʻo and responses contained herein. I also appreciate our other Unions, the Carpenters’, the Laborers’ Local 368, UPW and HGEA for their endorse- ment of my re-election to OHA as Trustee At Large this November.


In 2002 OHA Trustees adopted a vision, mission statement and OHA Strategic Plan which is updated to 2018 with six strategic priorities;

  • Hoʻokahua Waiwai – economic self-sufficiency (to have choices and a sustainable future, Native Hawaiians will prog- ress towards great economic self-sufficiency);
  • `Aina – land and water (to maintain the connection to the past and a viable land base; Native Hawaiians will participate in and benefit from responsible stewardship of Ka Pae `Aina Hawai’i);
  • Mo`omeheu – culture (to strengthen identity, Native Hawaiians will preserve, practice and perpetuate their culture);
  • Mauli Ola – health (to improve the quality and longevity of life, Native Hawaiians will enjoy healthy lifestyles and expe-rience reduced onset of chronic diseases);
  • Ea – governance (to restore pono and ea, Native Hawaiians will achieve self-governance, after which the assets ofOHA will be transferred to the new governing entity); and
  • Ho`ona`auao – education (to maximize choices of life and work, Native Hawaiians will gain knowledge and excel in educational opportunities at all levels).

A direct connection for Hawaiian music is at Moʻomeheu. Through grants to community initiatives (i.e. HARA, Mele Mei) OHA historically and presently advances Hawaiian music – traditional and contemporary.


Hawaiian musicians who have become “politically active and engaged” very likely have a unique story and circumstance that pointed them in that direction. My experience combines family upbringing and values nurtured in my `ohana, expo- sure to that larger world of people through work and education, and music and composition. Among mele or songs that I have written, you will find several that speak to taking individual responsibility to making a difference, advancing values of social change through the path of peace, cooperation and collective effort. The manaʻo in ALU LIKE, E Mau Ana Ka Haʻaheo, Na Lei Hulu Makua, Na Wahine Hawai`i originate from that source of individual responsibility, collective re- sponsibility, improving the tomorrows by building upon the good of the past and present carried by values and spirit that opposes inertia, a sprit that seeks social justice, the spirit of a change agent. I have been fortunate to be able to not only compose such messages through mele, but to engage and inspire myself and others toward collective action to manifest positive and inspiring change in the Native Hawaiian community and all of Hawaiʻi nei. I am blessed and am very grateful for those who guide me each day.


For nearly 40 years, my personal and professional commitment has been and continues to be about empowering Native Hawaiians and strengthening Hawai’i. Starting in 1978 at ALU LIKE, Inc., as an employment counselor then programs administrator, I resigned in January 1997 as ALU LIKE President/ CEO upon taking my oath of office as OHA Trustee- at-Large. As Trustee in 1996, my objective was to bring greater stability, professionalism, respect, and productivity to the OHA Board of Trustees. In Honolulu Weekly’s May 29, 1996 issue, reporters Sanburn and Dawes reported that I “hand- picked” a coalition of OHA candidates (Machado, Springer and Perry) “to bring the spirit of cooperation to the notoriously dysfunctional agency.” My 2000, 2004, 2008 OHA reelections allowed me to lead OHA as its longest serving Chairperson (2000-2010) continuing OHA’s reform and maturation into an entity of focus, discipline and accountability in service to our Native Hawaiian beneficiaries. When reelected in 2012, the Kaka’ako Master Plan, Native Hawaiian Governance, increased advocacy for advancing Native Hawaiians will be in the forefront of issues. For more information please go to www.apoliona.org


Music liberates the soul and renews the spirit each time. Music is uplifting and allows our humanity to be joined together with our spirituality for powerful and inspiring moments of individual and collective connection, communicating not through words but through unspoken mutual understanding and insight. Music is a great healer and can rebalance what is not in balance.

For me, music has provided a path of expression that just speaking words can not achieve. Music has bridged relation- ships before any first introductions are made and has more than once allowed individuals to join collectively in common mission and effort.

Music has allowed me to keep balance in my life while bringing hope and peace to many. As Native Hawaiians, as people of Hawaiʻi, the nation and the world, we need to rekindle hope and always strive for peace. Aloha.

“Music has allowed me to keep balance in my life while bringing hope and peace to many”

Editor’s note: Many Local 677 members are not only active as performers, composers and recording artists, but also are active in the broader non-musical community. With this edition of Ke Ola O Na Mele, we begin a new occasional series that features members who are prominent and active in other roles in Hawai’i. Hau- nani Apoliana is one such member: a consummate musician (a member of Olomana since 1982), she has also been an elected Trustee-At-Large with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) since 1996.

If you would like to suggest other Local 677 members for future features, please contact the office or email us at musicians677@gmail.com

2012 :30 Hawaiian TV spot

Apoliona for OHA 2012 Hawaiian TV spot from Blaine Fergerstrom on Vimeo.

:30 TV Commercial

Apoliona_30_HAWAIIAN_WEB-3.m4v-480p from Blaine Fergerstrom on Vimeo.

Apoliona for OHA 2012 TV

Apoliona_30_HAWAIIAN_WEB-3.m4v-480p from Blaine Fergerstrom on Vimeo.

Apoliona for OHA Mini Documentary


State Auditor Marion Higa

State Auditor Marion Higa

State Auditor Marion Higa states, “…we found a much more state and financial organization that is focused on its strategic mission.” – Marion Higa, State Auditor, 2012

Haunani Apoliona for OHA TV

Apoliona_30_COMBO_WEB-3.m4v-480p from Blaine Fergerstrom on Vimeo.

OHA’s Apoliona sets standard for service

HONOLULU ADVERTISER                                                                      SCROLL DOWN 
By David Shapiro

June 17, 2009 — A political organizer recently asked me which local elected officials I respect the most and a surprising name came quickest to mind: Haunani Apoliona, chairwoman of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Apoliona ran for the OHA board of trustees in 1996 after she became disgusted with the agency’s incompetence and vicious infighting, which she felt were an embarrassment to Hawaiians and a squandering of OHA’s native resources worth hundreds of millions of dollars.


Her aim was to run a slate of candidates that would take over OHA from the inside and bring a new sense of dignity and professionalism to the tattered agency.

Apoliona, a respected musician and social worker, had no trouble getting elected herself, but her allies didn’t fare as well and her calls for reform found little support among OHA’s dysfunctional old guard.

With dogged persistence, she won the chairmanship in 2000, lost it briefly in a renewed power struggle in 2001 and finally settled into the top job in 2002 for her current long run.

Apoliona delivered the stability and professionalism she promised by helping to recruit a top-notch staff led by administrator Clyde Namu’o, who came to OHA from a similar position in the state Judiciary, and respecting the knowledge of other trustees who had real-world financial and management experience such as Oswald Stender, Donald Cataluna and Walter Heen.

Whatever your political views about OHA, no public agency has achieved more improvement in the way it operates for the benefit of its constituents.

State Auditor Marion Higa, who isn’t given to handing out compliments, recognized OHA’s progress in a new audit of the agency issued this month, which said collegiality, competence and strategic planning have replaced backbiting, micro-management and policy by whim.

“In the past, board members often waged political battles to the detriment of the organization and its beneficiaries,” Higa said. “Within the last decade, the contentiousness that clouded the atmosphere within OHA’s boardroom has progressively cleared. … We found a much more stable and functional organization that is focused on its strategic mission.”

Unstated in the audit but obvious to anybody who visits OHA’s offices is that Apoliona and her colleagues achieved this while keeping the agency a uniquely Hawaiian place.

This isn’t to say that OHA doesn’t have its problems; the Kau Inoa initiative to foster a Hawaiian government has been an expensive dud so far, and the Legislature’s rejection of the land settlement OHA negotiated with the Lingle administration last year reflected continued deep distrust of OHA in some elements of the Hawaiian community.

But Apoliona and her group have brought OHA light years from where it was a decade ago, and she stands as a model of a citizen politician who sought office for all the right reasons, didn’t let the system corrupt her and persisted until she delivered what she set out to accomplish.

It’s especially relevant because the state government in these difficult times is looking a lot like OHA in the bad old days.

The recent Legislature was a disgraceful display of low politics, name-calling, self-serving and zero leadership from either Gov. Linda Lingle or lawmakers as their constituents suffered through the worst economic crisis since statehood.

This bunch has shown again and again that they’re simply incapable of rising to the challenges that face us, and it’s downright discouraging that those lining up to run next year are looking so far like more of the same.

Hawai’i’s political culture, in which those in power are consumed with taking care of special interests that take care of them, will never change until more people with Haunani Apoliona’s vision, determination and ethic for public service stand up to lead the way.

Statement to League of Women Voters

Aloha mai kākou, ke ‘olu‘olu e ho‘I hou ia‘u i ko‘u kuleana ma OHA i keia Nowemapa.

Haunani Apoliona

Haunani Apoliona

Working nearly 40 years with and on behalf of Native Hawaiians has been my journey of service. Elected an OHA Trustee At Large in 1996 re-elected in 2000, 2004, 2008, I now seek a 5th term of office.

I earned my Master’s in Social Work at UH Mānoa in 1976, worked at Third Circuit Court and CFS; then in 1978 began as a CETA Counselor at ALU LIKE, Inc. advancing to Community Specialist, O‘ahu Island Center Administrator, HHS Program Planner, Director of Programs and ultimately to ALU LIKE President/CEO (1991-1997). I resigned from ALU LIKE January 10, 1997 upon taking my Trustee oath of office. After serving in various board leadership positions, I became OHA Board Chairperson in 2000, serving until December 2010; and am the longest serving OHA Board Chair in OHA’s 32 year history.

We accomplished much in my decade tenure but OHA’s 2010-2018 strategic plan priorities in Health, Governance, Education, Economic Self-Sufficiency, Stewardship of Land, Water and Culture remain works in progress. Responsible development of OHA owned lands in Kaka‘ako makai; establishing Native Hawaiian governance for recognition remain important priorities for OHA in this term, along with an OHA co-trusteeship role for internationally recognized Papahānaumokuākea. Defending Native Rights and benefits to sustain resources into our communities empowering Native Hawaiians and strengthening Hawai‘i are the overall objectives. With your support I will serve those causes in my fifth term.

Mahalo nui.

OHA Race Is About Experience, Credibility

As published in Civil Beat, June 27, 2012Civil Beat Editor’s Note: Haunani Apoliona, OHA Trustee At Large, wrote the following commentary in response to the piece “Why Coaches Make Great Leaders” about one of her rivals, published on June 13.

Haunani Apoliona

Haunani Apoliona

As a handful of competitors circle my seat on the Board of Trustees at Office of Hawaiian Affairs, I am reminded of just how much a little competition can keep you focused.

But it’s something more elemental than the bulls-eye on my seat that is motivating me as I seek a fifth-term as an OHA Trustee At Large in the November 2012 election. My life purpose and professional commitment has been and still is about empowering Native Hawaiians and strengthening Hawai`i.

For nearly 40 years, this mission has fueled my level of commitment to the Native Hawaiian community, starting in 1978 as employment counselor then rising to island center programs administrator at ALU LIKE, Inc. in the 1980’s and to President/CEO in the 1990’s.

Ever since I was first elected in 1996 as an OHA trustee, this mission has also allowed me to run at full speed with incredible urgency and a spirit of indefatigable optimism. In other words, this mission has provided me with a remarkable disregard for obstacles as well as immunity to the prospect of failure, reinforced by a resolve to do the right thing for the right reasons at the right time in the right way.

More crucially, my commitment to the mission has provided a lot of incentive and passion for the strategic vision at OHA, where we are thinking more broadly about how we can deliver the best results possible for positive enduring impact.

For that reason, we are disciplined to act more thoughtfully and strategically about our approach to such pursuits as supporting student achievement, countering health threats, perpetuating culture and self-determination, expanding housing opportunities and enabling more workforce-friendly options for Native Hawaiians.

It has meant working more closely with nonprofit organizations whose outreach efforts are directly linked to our priorities for improving conditions and creating systemic, lasting change within the Native Hawaiian community.

Perhaps my greatest contribution as immediate past Chair of the Board in our pursuits is my ability to inspire passion in others along with their trust, goodwill and support essential to our collective success.

Given that reality, it can’t just be about competition for my seat on OHA’s Board of Trustees. It’s about the decades of experience, trust and credibility that a true competitor like me has established with beneficiaries and all Hawai’i who continue to look to OHA to contribute to an overall environment where Native Hawaiian families advance in their opportunity to thrive.

About the author: Haunani Apoliona earned her Masters Degree In Social Work from UH Manoa, worked at ALU LIKE, Inc. from 1978, finishing as Pres/CEO from 1991-1997. Elected OHA Trustee At Large in 1996, Haunani is OHA’s longest serving Board Chairperson (2000-2010); is a Director of several boards including the Bank of Hawaii/BOHC. She is a Na Hoku Hanohano award winning composer and kiho’alu artist performing with Olomana since 1982.

Haunani Files To Run!

Haunai Apoliona signs candidate papers to run for OHA 2012

Haunani Apoliona signs candidate papers to run for re-election.

Pledging to continue her work as Trustee At Large for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, today Haunani Apoliona filed candidate papers for reelection for an unprecedented fifth term.

“It has been an honor to serve since 1996 and a privilege to serve as OHA Board Chairperson for nearly a decade (2000-2010). OHA’s achievements during my tenure as the longest serving OHA Board Chairperson set milestones and standards that OHA must continue to improve upon. I look forward to serving from 2012-2016. We will further advance opportunity and advocacy for all Native Hawaiians and malama Hawai’i nei. I seek your vote of support and that of your `ohana and friends to return me to my OHA Trustee At Large seat this November. OHA’s important mission to Hoʻoūlu Lāhui Aloha is the beacon. Eō, e Nā ʻŌiwi ʻŌlino!”

Apoliona for OHA 2012