“ʻAʻohe mea nāna e hoʻopūhili, he moho no ka lā makani; There is no one to interfere, for he is a messenger for the windy day.”
Said in admiration of a person who lets nothing stop him from carrying out the task entrusted to him.

In an emblematic show of unity, all nine Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees were together inducted into their terms of office at an investiture ceremony held at Kawaiahaʻo Church on Dec. 8, 2022.

Last year’s elections saw new At-Large Trustees Brickwood Galuteria and Keoni Souza take their places on the board, joining re-elected incumbents Kalei Akaka (Oʻahu), Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey (Maui), Mililani Trask (Hawaiʻi), and John Waiheʻe IV (At-Large).

Dan Ahuna (Kauaʻi and Niʻihau), Keliʻi Akina (At-Large), and Luana Alapa (Molokaʻi and Lānai) won election as trustees in 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, OHA’s 2020 investiture ceremony was cancelled, as were planning efforts to reschedule that investiture in 2021.

The Kawaiahaʻo Church ceremony marked the first investiture where all nine trustees were inducted together since the first OHA board was established in 1981.

Images from the Dec. 8 investiture of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees. It was a joyful and festive affair that included beautiful performances by Amy Hānaialiʻi Gilliom and Hālau Hiʻiakaināmakalehua, heartfelt speeches by Chair Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey, OHA CEO Dr. Sylvia Hussey, and Kealiʻinohomoku Wichman (a young haumana at Ke Kula ʻo Samuel Kamakau pictured in blue above). The celebration also included a rousing sermon by Kahu Kenneth Makuakāne. The investiture was attended by representatives of the royal benevolent societies, aliʻi trusts and the state government, along with ʻohana of the trustees, and OHA staff and beneficiaries. – Photos: Joshua Koh

With a theme of “Hoʻoulu Lāhui Aloha – To Raise a Beloved Lāhui,” the ceremony – intertwined with cultural and spiritual elements – was attended by an audience of roughly 400 including representatives from the royal benevolent societies, aliʻi trusts, state and county officials, trustee ʻohana, OHA staff, and beneficiaries.

The Honorable Todd Eddins, an associate justice on the Hawaiʻi State Supreme Court, administered the Oath of Office to the newly elected trustees during the ceremony, which was live-streamed on ʻŌlelo TV, and is available on the OHA Facebook page. Each of the trustees was presented with a lei hulu and given a special blessing by Kahu Kenneth Makuakāne to commemorate their work ahead.

Lindsey, who has served as board chair since December of 2019, OHA Ka Pouhana/CEO Dr. Sylvia Hussey, and Makuakāne offered remarks at the event.

“As one who has preached the value of working together in a spirit of lōkahi, I see a symbolism in all of us receiving Ke Akua’s blessing together today. May we continue to work in unity as one ʻohana as we move forward with the mission of this institution,” Lindsey said.

Participating in a state working group to address issues surrounding OHA’s share of the Public Land Trust revenue, and the development of OHA’s lands at Kakaʻako Makai – recently renamed Hakuone – will be key areas of focus for the agency in the coming year, Lindsey said.

Lindsey told her fellow trustees that she was proud to have the distinction of serving alongside each of them.

“Mahalo for your willingness to stand up for our people. Mahalo for your dedication to our lāhui, and mahalo for your commitment to bettering the lives of Native Hawaiians. We will need each of your individual skill sets to tackle the challenges that will come before us in the coming months,” she said.

Hussey referenced the ʻōlelo noʻeau: “Umia ka hanu! Hoʻokāhi ka umauma, ke kīpoʻohiwi i ke kīpoʻohiwi. Hold the breath! Walk abreast, shoulder to shoulder.” (Be of one accord, as in exerting every effort to lift a heavy weight to the shoulder and to keep together in carrying it along).

Hussey asked “In our mind’s eye, can we see all nine trustees being of one accord, walking abreast, shoulder to shoulder? Shouldering the kuleana, even the kaumaha (weight) of responsibilities and trust? We are all here today, invited to witness their induction, their commitments, and we add our own silent, yet staunch support.”

Makuakāne, in a powerful and sometimes fiery sermon, shared a recent conversation that he had with a kupuna about the Hawaiian Nation’s history and about learning from the lessons of the past.

“I was talking to a kupuna who said, ‘We are resilient people. We have endured several migrations across this vast waterway. We have endured many battles over the centuries in Hawaiʻi. We have endured catastrophic epidemics: cholera in 1804; influenza in 1820; mumps in 1839; measles in 1848; smallpox in 1853; leprosy in 1860; and other diseases – including Covid in 2020.

“ʻWe endured having our kingdom stolen. And people thought that we were going to become extinct. But we, the lāhui, have endured.’

“But I refuse to endure having our own people, my people, have hakakā (arguing/fighting) with and among each other,” Makuakāne said.

“You want to do that? You go do that in your own house, but you don’t go putting your dirty laundry outside where everybody can see, where everybody can hear.

Makuakāne said having differing opinions is fine.

“It’s okay to have different manaʻo from other kānaka,” he said. “It is not okay to belittle another kanaka’s dignity. Because when we do that, we unknowingly belittle another kanaka’s moʻokūʻauhau. Because when you speak to them, you also speak to the family that has been here with them and still continues to be with them. So we never speak ill about other kānaka, much less anybody else.”

On Dec. 12, at the first meeting of the new board, trustees unanimously selected Lindsey to return as board chair and selected the rest of its leadership including leads for its two standing committees.

Lindsey is a former properties administrator for Maui Land & Pineapple Co. as well as a former administrator for the County of Maui’s Land Use and Codes Division. She has owned her own real estate company for more than 40 years, is a long-time member of the ʻAhahui Kaʻahumanu, and an active member of the Central Maui Hawaiian Civic Club. She is also an award-winning recording artist.

Trask was selected as vice chair of the full board, while Waiheʻe will chair the Committee on Resource Management assisted by Vice Chair Alapa. Akaka will chair the Committee on Beneficiary Advocacy and Empowerment.

“I am beyond honored to see the faith and confidence that my fellow trustees have placed in me, and I promise them that I will continue to work as hard as I have since first accepting this leadership role two years ago,” Lindsey said.

“We will continue to share our message of working together in a spirit of unity and lōkahi, and we will strive to do our very best in bettering the lives of the Native Hawaiian community because that is what our people truly deserve.”

Following the formal investiture at Kawaiahaʻo Church, guests continued the celebration at a festive luncheon lūʻau style at Hakuone, OHA’s property at Kakaʻako Makai. The event was catered by Haili’s Hawaiian Foods and entertainment was provided by a trio of musicians led by Iwalani Apo. Guests were also treated to impromptu performances by trustee/musicians Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey and Keoni Souza, each of whom took a turn on the stage to the delight of the crowd. – Photos: Joshua Koh

Special Lei Hulu Created for Investiture of Newly Elected Trustees

Photo: Lei hula
Photo: Lehua Itokazu

As part of a long-standing tradition, special lei hulu (feather lei) were created for this year’s newly elected OHA trustees and presented to them during investiture ceremonies. The stunning lei hulu design, by master lei-maker Kawika Lum-Nelmeida and pictured here, was inspired by OHA’s vision, “Hoʻoulu Lāhui Aloha” (To Raise a Beloved Lāhui). Board Chair Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey asked only that the base color for the lei hulu be black – the design itself was left to Lum-Nelmeida. Working with OHA CEO Dr. Sylvia Hussey and Operations Support Coordinator Remy Keliihoomalu, Lum-Nelmeida based the final design for the lei hulu on the organization’s strategic foundations: ʻohana, moʻomeheu (culture) and ʻāina. In the center of the lei, the yellow band complemented with green and black represents ʻohana. On either side, the green band offset with brown and black represents moʻomeheu, while the red band offset with brown and black represents ʻāina. Together the elements of the lei hulu are symbolic of OHA’s kuleana to help restore and uplift our lāhui. By accepting the lei hulu and the kaona that it represents, trustees accept their kuleana and carry it forward.

Hoʻomanaʻo Kākou

Photo: OHA Trustees at the investiture on the steps of ʻIolani Palace
The last time all nine trustees were inducted together was nearly 42 years ago when the OHA Board was first established. Pictured above, at their investiture on the steps of ʻIolani Palace on Jan. 17, 1981, are the members of OHA’s first Board of Trustees. L-R: A. Frenchy DeSoto; Thomas K. Kaulukukui, Sr.; Rodney K. Burgess, III; Roy L. Benham; Dr. A. Leiomalama Solomon; Joseph G. Kealoha, Jr.; Walter L. Ritte, Jr.; Peter K. Apo; and Moses K. Keale, Sr.