AKINA, Keliʻi

1 What are the top three issues facing the Native Hawaiian community today?
2 OHA’s mission is to improve conditions for Native Hawaiians. What skills do you offer to help OHA fulfill its mission?
3 How can OHA better ensure that Maunakea and its cultural and environmental integrity are appropriately protected?

Photo: Kelii Akina

Nonpartisan Special
AGE: 62
OHA Trustee-at-Large and President/CEO, Grassroot Institute of Hawaiʻi

    1. Research shows that Hawaiians consider housing, income, and healthcare to be among their three greatest needs. With the Coronavirus crisis, these needs have intensified. That is why I have pushed OHA to focus on meeting basic needs rather than on pursuing controversial political agendas. As a Trustee, I initiated a three-point plan to develop the land and resources of OHA’s trust to meet the needs of Hawaiians:
      1. 1) Protect the Trust through audits and sound fiscal policy;
      2. 2) Grow the Trust by developing Kakaʻako Makai and other properties; and,
      3. 3) Use the Trust for real ʻbread and butter’ needs of beneficiaries, especially those in poverty.
    2. When I became a trustee in 2016, the skill I used was the ability to stand up and challenge the system. I fought on behalf of beneficiaries to rid OHA of fraud, waste, and abuse. Despite opposition, I championed a historic independent audit which is now the blueprint for change. And to set an example, I refused to accept personal Trustee Allowance funds until needed reforms were made. The board unanimously approved my independent audit proposal and has now adopted policies for financial reform which I proposed when first elected. These measures show my other skill of cooperating with fellow trustees toward positive outcomes.
    3. OHA must foster a shared commitment between Hawaiians who oppose the construction of the TMT on Maunakea and those who support it. That shared commitment is to practice the value of Mālama ʻĀina by ensuring pono (proper and sustainable) management of the Mauna. With pono management, there is room for both the scientific and the sacred. OHA’s litigation and negotiation efforts are an important part of the process, but OHA must also provide the leadership needed to end the rift between fellow Hawaiians which threatens the peace and possibilities of Maunakea.

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