News Briefs | August 2021


OHA in the Community

Photo: Delegation from the Office of Hawaiian
In mid-July, a small delegation from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) traveled to the island of Molokaʻi for OHA’s annual Molokaʻi Island Community Meeting on July 14 and Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting on July 15. While on-island, they visited OHA grantee, Hānai Ā Ulu at Keawanui to learn about their limu project and efforts to help homesteaders plant gardens and become more sustainable. Trustees and staff also paid a visit to Kealopiko, an ʻŌiwi-owned clothing company whose wearable art designs celebrate and teach moʻomeheu Hawai’i. OHA wishes to mahalo the Kupa o Molokaʻi for their warmth and hospitality, with special mahalo to Kahekili and Hala Pa-Kala, Kilia Purdy-Avelino, Walter Ritte, Ane Bakutis, and the staff at Hānai Ā Ulu and Kealopiko. – Photo: Joshua Koh

Take a virtual huakaʻi with the OHA Trustees and staff around Molokaʻi. Watch a video of the Molokaʻi site visits at

Laʻiʻōpua 2020 Hosts Waʻa Community Day

Photo: Jun and Iko Balanga
(L-R) Brothers Jun and Iko Balanga demonstrate binding techniques on the waʻa. – Photo: Courtesy

On the grounds of Laʻiʻōpua 2020 in the ahupuaʻa of Kealakehe, a double-hull waʻa is being assembled by members of the Kona community. The canoe, named Laʻiʻōpua, will be the first waʻa to be fully constructed on Hawaiʻi Island in almost 30 years.

On July 10, community members gathered at Laʻiʻōpua 2020 for a Wa’a Community Day. Featured guests included Chadd Paishon, cultural advisor for the Waʻa Project; Iko Balanga, co-founder of Anelakai Adventures; George “Keoki” Roldan, master weaver; and kalo practitioners Kamuela Meheula and Keahi Tomas, who shared manaʻo and hands-on demonstrations.

The day began with a genealogy oli gifted to the Laʻiʻōpua waʻa by Paishon. Afterward, some 100 attendees broke out into smaller groups. Balanga and ʻohana were stationed at the wa’a, demonstrating the precise process of binding the ʻiako (crossbeams) to the kaʻele (hull).

Roldan shared moʻolelo on the art of weaving lauhala and taught participants to create beautiful ʻohana bowls. Tomas and Meheula provided instruction on making paʻi ʻai and shared ʻike about the environmental, social, and cultural values of the kalo plant.

Two more waʻa builds are scheduled on August 7 and 21, from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. For more information, visit

Kahele Introduces Legislation to Ensure ʻOhana Successorship

Last month, Congressman Kai Kahele announced the introduction of bipartisan legislation that would ensure long-term tenancy to beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA).

Called the “Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole Protecting Family Legacies Act,” this legislation would reduce the successorship qualification of a lessee’s spouse, children, grandchildren, or siblings from one quarter to 1/32 Hawaiian.

“My legislation advances the original draft, vision, and intent of Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole who championed the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act – legislation he fought to pass in Congress as a non-voting delegate,” said Kahele.

“I want to do everything I can to help ensure future generations of Native Hawaiians benefit from the original intent of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act – that is, to return Native Hawaiians to their lands with prompt and efficient placement in order to support self-sufficiency and self-determination.”

The Hawaiʻi State Legislature passed this amendment in 2017 and it was signed by Gov. David Ige as Act 80 that same year. This action has been deliberated by HHCA beneficiaries and homestead associations for years and deemed necessary because many descendants of HHCA beneficiaries currently face displacement and the loss of their ancestral homes.

Documenting the Life of Leinaʻala Kalama Heine

Photo: Leinaala Heine
Photo: KWO Archive

Papaku No Kamehaikana, a Hawaiʻi nonprofit, has received a $99,965 grant from the Insitute of Museum and Library Services for their project “Kuleana: I Ulu No Ka Lala I Ke Kumu” which will document and record the genealogy of Kumu Hula Leinaʻala Kalama Heine, as told by those who hold that genealogy.

As part of the project, over the next two years, Papaku No Kamehaikana will produce monthly webinars and huakaʻi, and train a group of eight ʻōpio (youth) in transcription technology, collections management, and application design. Their first webinar was on July 27 and featured Heine’s longtime friend, Kumu Hula Robert Cazimero.

“Our goal is not only to document the legacy of Kumu Hula Leinaʻala Kalama Heine in ways that can be shared with students of hula for years to come but to connect our ʻōpio to our cultural traditions through technology,” said Niulii Heine, Papaku No Kamehaikana president.

The mission of Papaku No Kamehaikana is to encourage and enable families to understand, live and practice Hawaiian values and cultural traditions.

House Native Hawaiian Caucus Challenges Ige’s Judiciary Nominee

On July 21, the House Native Hawaiian Caucus, led by Rep. Daniel Holt, sent a letter to Gov. David Ige expressing their concern regarding his recent selection of Daniel Gluck to fill a vacancy on the Hawaiʻi Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA), calling for Ige to withdraw Gluck from consideration.

“[Gluck] lacks the legal practice and lived experience in Hawaiʻi that other nominees hold. Every other candidate before you has more courtroom experience. Three candidates have participated in over a hundred circuit court cases. Two candidates have argued over a dozen cases before the appellate court. Comparatively, your choice has participated on eight cases on appeal and made one supreme court oral argument.”

The caucus notes that Ige’s choices during his term have not provided equitable racial and gender representation to judges for Hawaiʻi’s highest courts, and that there are currently no Native Hawaiian, Filipino, Pacific Islander or African American judges at Hawaiʻi’s Supreme Court or at the ICA, and that it has been more than 30 years since a Native Hawaiian has been appointed to serve on the ICA.

They also point out that the list of nominees includes individuals who have studied ʻike Hawaiʻi, lived Hawaiian culture, and practiced Native Hawaiian law. All of the nominees are graduates of UH Mānoa’s Richardson School of Law – except for Gluck.

Their letter states that “In this and other rounds of applicants, you have overlooked qualified individuals born and raised on the neighbor islands, and graduates of public and Hawaiian schools with experience working with and in Hawaiian and underserved communities as teachers, advocates and allies.”

“Based on your history of appointments, there is an unwritten implication of a ceiling for highly qualified candidates to the judiciary.”

Hilo Girl Wins National Title

Photo: Aspen Taylor
Hoʻomaikaʻi to 11-year-old Aspen Taylor Keʻauliʻimaikalani Hanohano of Hilo who won the title of “Miss Elementary America 6th Grade 2021” at the Elementary America Pageant, a branch of the Miss High School America Pageant Organization in Little Rock, Arkansas, in late June. Keʻauliʻi is a Hawaiian language immersion student at Ke Kula ʻo Nāwahiokalaniʻōpuʻu Iki Lab Public Charter School in Keaʻau. She captured the hearts of the judges in the interview portion of the competition when she spoke of her love for her culture, her home island, and hula. Keʻauliʻi is the daughter of Raelyn Ioane and Joseph Hanohano, Jr. – Photo: Courtesy

July 4 Airport Protest Against HB499

Photo: Protestors gather in opposition to HB 499
Airports across the pae ʻāina experienced major congestion on July 4 as a result of a coordinated convoy to protest HB 499, which became law on July 8. Protest organizers point out that the business-friendly law disregards ongoing and unsettled claims to land held by the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi at the time of the overthrow, and unmet financial obligations for the use of that land to DHHL and OHA. There were more than 300 vehicles carrying protestors at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, and 100 more at the Hilo, Kona, and Kahului airports.

Statement by OHA Chair Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey

I am extremely disappointed by the Governor’s recent decision to not consider HB499 for a veto.

This decision by the Governor ensures that this controversial bill, which OHA and many other organizations and individuals repeatedly raised concerns about in opposition during and after the 2021 legislative session, will inevitably now become law.

HB499 will represent the most damaging law to Native Hawaiian rights enacted in nearly a decade.

Forty-year lease extensions, directly negotiated between current lessees and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, threaten to prevent future generations of Native Hawaiians from ensuring the best uses of our public trust lands.

Moreover, such extension authority also ignores and perpetuates the historical injustices inflicted upon the Native Hawaiian people, who continue to struggle with the intergenerational traumas that resulted from the theft of their lands and the disruption of their sovereignty, by allowing the current and future state administrations to foreclose any opportunity for Native Hawaiians to assert their claims to their stolen ancestral lands for four decades at a time.

I now call upon the Governor to issue a moratorium on the extension of any leases under HB499, unless and until the adoption of administrative rules that can ensure transparency and accountability in the negotiation and issuance of lease extensions, and that sufficiently recognize and protect the unresolved claims of Native Hawaiians to the stolen, “ceded” lands that may be encumbered under this measure. I will also work with my fellow trustees and the community to pursue a repeal of HB499 next legislative session.

In the meantime, we will remain steadfast in our commitment to this ʻāina and the lāhui, and we look forward to continuing to work with our community to help facilitate and further the state’s constitutional duties and moral and legal obligations to Native Hawaiians and the public trust.