Photo: Iolani Palace
Iolani Palace

CNHA Raises Over $127,00 in Four Days to Save ʻIolani Palace

Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement

The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) raised over $127,000 in less than a week to save ʻIolani Palace from a potential closure due to COVID-19.

On June 23rd, through CNHA’s charitable giving arm – Hawaiian Way Fund – CNHA offered to match every dollar donated to the Friends of ʻIolani Palace. In 12 hours, after the community surpassed the goal of $15,000, Hawaiʻi Community Foundation (HCF) joined the effort by contributing $50,000, and the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association added an additional $15,000 to the pot.

“ʻIolani Palace is a living and breathing element of our history, people and our future,” said CNHA CEO Kūhiō Lewis. “Not doing anything wasn’t an option for us.”

Friends of ʻIolani Palace depends heavily on donations and entry fees to support the maintenance and operation of the palace and its priceless artifacts. On March 18th, along with businesses and organizations statewide, ʻIolani Palace was forced to shut its doors, cutting off nearly all income. The palace is now struggling to keep the lights on and water running.

“Mahalo to the organizations who matched every donation,” said Paula Akana, Friends of ʻIolani Palace executive director. “Our hearts are warmed by your commitment to stand with us as we care for this special place.”

As a footnote to CNHA’s effort, in July the Palace received an additional $15,000 gift from Princess Abigail Kawānanakoa which will be used to help pay for the Palace’s monthly electricity bill.

“The Princess has been our largest benefactor over the years and we can’t mahalo her enough for her continued generosity, especially during these challenging times,” said Akana. “Our electric bill is one of our largest expenses each month, since the Palace’s HVAC systems need to run 24/7 in order to preserve and protect the precious pieces of history housed within her.”

Peters-Nguyen Appointed Red Cross Regional CEO

Photo: Diane Peters Nguyen

The American Red Cross announced the selection of Diane Peters-Nguyen as the new Regional Chief Executive Officer for the Pacific Islands Region; the region includes Hawaiʻi, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa.

Peters-Nguyen has more than 25 years of proven success in planning and implementation, revenue development, philanthropic partnerships, marketing and communications, volunteer management, and leadership. Prior to joining the Red Cross, she served as Vice President of Advancement at Chaminade where she played a lead role in initiating, developing, and completing a $118 million comprehensive campaign, the most successful in the organization’s history.

“Diane is a dynamic executive whose leadership will help ensure that we continue to provide essential services following disasters,” said Michael J. Jordan, vice president for the Pacific Division of the American Red Cross.

A graduate of Kamehameha Schools Kapālama, Peters-Nguyen earned a B.A. in French from the University of California and a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from George Washington University.

“I am honored and excited to serve as the new CEO of the Red Cross, Pacific Islands Region,” Peters-Nguyen said. “Here in Hawaiʻi and throughout the Pacific, the Red Cross helps people during emergencies and disasters. Now, more than ever, this work is making a difference in people’s lives.”

Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority Adopts ʻĀina Aloha Declaration

The Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority’s (HTA) Board of Directors has adopted the ʻĀina Aloha Economic Futures declaration, joining thousands of Hawaiʻi community members, businesses and organizations.

ʻĀina Aloha’s declaration was drafted by a group of Native Hawaiian community members who came together at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic united by a deep and abiding love for Hawaiʻi’s communities and natural environment. Kalani Kaanaana, HTA Director of Hawaiian Cultural Affairs and Natural Resources, is one of the 14 collaborative authors of the ʻĀina Aloha declaration.

The declaration serves as a starting point to facilitate broader engagement and collective action. It was sent to Governor David Ige on May 19, 2020.

Naʻālehu Anthony and Mahina Paishon-Duarte presented ʻĀina Aloha’s guiding principles and four-step community engagement process to HTA board members and explained the importance of having the four principles guide Hawaiʻi’s economic recovery.

Shared Anthony, “The entire initiative is grounded in our kuanaʻike Hawaiʻi, Hawaiian perspective and values, that have sustained us for generations. The values resonate with all of us who are privileged to call Hawaiʻi home.”

“We are in unprecedented times,” Paishon-Duarte noted. “This requires unprecedented leadership, and having the HTA Board come stand alongside us is a prime example of that.”

ʻĀina Aloha’s core values align with HTA’s new strategic plan and its guiding pillars, which include supporting programs that perpetuate the Hawaiian culture, preserving Hawaiʻi’s natural resources, strengthening the community and brand marketing.

“The board’s unanimous adoption of the ʻĀina Aloha Economic Futures Declaration is a milestone in the work we do at HTA to move our tourism economy toward a regenerative model guided by our shared values, as we strive to improve the quality of life for Hawaiʻi’s residents,” said Kaanaana.

DHHL Expands COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance

In late June, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) expanded its COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program to include Undivided Interest (UI) lessees who have lost income or their job as a result of COVID-19. The UI Awards Program was launched in 2005 to provide more homesteading opportunities to applicants on the DHHL Waiting List. The Department issued 1,434 UI leases that provided an undivided interest on the homelands while beneficiaries prepared for home ownership.

The expanded program provides rental assistance using $7 million in Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant funds made available in accordance with the Native Hawaiian Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act and other federal laws.

In addition to the expanded offering to UI lessees, beneficiaries on the Applicant Waiting List as of Dec. 31, 2018, who have experienced a loss of income or job as a result of COVID-19, are eligible to apply. Beneficiaries may receive assistance for the payment of their security deposit and/or rent for up to six months.

DHHL’s COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program is administered by Aloha United Way (AUW). To apply for the program, beneficiaries are required to provide documentation to verify a loss of income or job as a result of COVID-19.

Those interested in learning more should call AUW’s hotline at 2-1-1. For more information on COVID-19 impacts on DHHL activities, visit

New Nonprofit on a Mission to Get Hawaiʻi Island Keiki Active

Little Big Tots

Little Big Tots Foundation is a newly organized nonprofit that is on a mission to increase youth participation in extra-curricular activities. For many families, having their keiki participate in extra-curricular, after-school or weekend activities is simply not affordable. And yet, participation in extra-curricular activities complements a child’s education, builds confidence and helps to develop life and social skills.

In an effort to enable all keiki to experience this important part of childhood, Little Big Tots is trying to fill the gap by helping parents and caregivers register their keiki for extra-curricular activities, and by offering a scholarship program to assist needy families with activity fees. Currently, the scholarship program is only available to Hawaiʻi Island residents, but the plan is to eventually expand across the pae ʻāina and reach as many keiki as possible.

Qualifying extra-curricular activities include music and art classes, swimming lessons, youth sports and scouting. Keiki from 3-13 years old are eligible to apply. The application period opened on July 1st and will continue through the end of 2020.

“Hawaiʻi’s keiki benefit from extra-curricular activities by gaining the skills and experiences they need to be successful,” says Little Big Tots President Kristina Tolentino. “Our organization was founded on Hawaiʻi Island by a group of Native Hawaiian women to empower every child to move beyond their current circumstances and become healthy, contributing citizens of their communities. Our slogan is ʻreaching dreams one star at a time.’”

For more information or to apply, go to

New Dates Announced For the Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture

New dates have been announced for the 13th Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture (FestPAC). Originally scheduled for June 2020 in Honolulu, the Festival will now be held June 6-16, 2024.

“We were looking forward to hosting FestPAC this year,” said Senator J. Kalani English, FestPAC Hawaiʻi Commission Chairman. “Commissioners are now discussing how to reaffirm our plans once the pandemic subsides.”

The FestPAC Hawaiʻi Commission will continue to meet regularly over the next four years.

“The postponement to 2024 acknowledges the value of Fest-PAC while taking into account the realities of COVID-19,” said Leituala Kuiniselani Toelupe Tago-Elisara, Director of The Pacific Community’s Social Development Program. “We will continue to work with Hawaiʻi as the host, in collaboration with Pacific countries and territories, to determine the best options as we move forward.”

FestPAC was the first major event in Hawaiʻi to be postponed as the extent of the pandemic grew. The early decision was made out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of Hawaiʻi residents, as well as for visiting delegations. This new date maintains the four-year Festival cycle while maximizing the opportunity for delegations to participate as their own Pacific island nations recover from the economic and social impacts of the pandemic.

FestPAC is the world’s largest celebration of Indigenous Pacific Islanders. It was launched in 1972 by The South Pacific Commission (rebranded The Pacific Community) to halt the erosion of traditional practices in the region through ongoing cultural exchanges. Learn more at

Be Alert to Coronavirus Contact Tracer Scams

The call seems legitimate. Your caller ID says it’s from the Health Department. “You’ve been exposed to COVID-19,” the caller or text message begins. But is it a real contact tracer or a scammer trying to steal your identity?

Caller ID can be faked, and COVID-19 is giving con artists an almost perfect scam. “They try to get you to react emotionally – and a highly contagious virus with no vaccine is an almost perfect way to get people scared and throw off your logical thinking,” said AARP State Director Kealiʻi Lopez.

To make sure a contract tracing call is legitimate, call the Department of Health at 808-586-4586. Legitimate contact tracers will ask for your name, birthdate and address. But they will never ask for your Social Security number, medical insurance account information, or bank or credit card numbers.

If you receive any text messages or emails about COVID-19 tracing delete the message and do not click on any links.

If you feel your identity has been compromised, consider freezing your credit so that scammers cannot use your personal information to open credit cards.

Suspected fraud can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-ID-THEFT or call the FBI at 202-324-3000. You can also call the AARP Fraud Watch Network helpline at 877-908-3360 or go online to

Contact tracing scams have been reported on the continent and it’s only a matter of time before similar scams pop up in Hawaiʻi. “Unfortunately, scammers have no conscience and no qualms about hijacking efforts to contain COVID-19 and save lives, to steal from people,” said Lopez.