Photo: Ke‘eaumoku Kapu, Höküao Pellegrino, Summer Sylva, Ed Wendt, Koa Hewahewa and Keani Rawlins-Fernandez
Ola I Ka Wai Summit panelists included (L-R) Ke‘eaumoku Kapu, Höküao Pellegrino, Summer Sylva, Ed Wendt, Koa Hewahewa and Keani Rawlins-Fernandez as the moderator.- Photo: Alice SIlbanuz

Ola I Ka Wai Maui Summit

On November 7th OHA facilitated a panel discussion, E Ola I Ka Wai: Elevating Advocacy to Protect Our Precious Waters, and premiered a new short documentary Hoʻi Ka Wai I Kahi Kūpono at UH Maui College. As management of Maui’s water resources becomes more urgent, community-based advocacy is critical to ensure proper stewardship. Maui residents have engaged in legal battles to restore stream flow in their communities for 30 years. OHA has been a staunch supporter, advocate, and plaintiff in the ongoing battles in East Maui and Nā Wai ʻEhā. The event provided an opportunity for the community to share manaʻo on maintaining our constitutionally-protected water rights. Panelists (photo above) included (L-R) Keʻeaumoku Kapu, Hōkūao Pellegrino, Summer Sylva, Ed Wendt, Koa Hewahewa and Keani Rawlins-Fernandez as the moderator. – Photo: Alice Silbanuz

OHA Approves $103,000 in Events Grants

Last month OHA announced the selection of 20 community events that will receive a total of $103,000 from OHA’s ʻAhahui Grants Program.

“OHA is proud to support these organizations hosting events that will promote health, education, culture and land-based activities across the state for our Lāhui and the broader public,” said Sylvia Hussey, OHA Chief Executive Officer.

OHA’s ʻAhahui Grants Program provides funding to support eligible organizations hosting community events that benefit the Native Hawaiian community and align with OHA’s Strategic Results. The 20 community events represent the ʻAhahui Grants Program’s second round of awardees for Fiscal Year 2020. These events will occur between Jan. 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020.

For a list of the organizations that received grants in this round, please visit

For more information on the ʻAhahui Grants Program, please visit

Hundreds of ʻOʻopu Killed in Wailuku River

A Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) project designed to ensure the survival of native fish and shrimp in the Wailuku River killed hundreds, if not thousands, of fish.

Water was diverted from the Wailuku River in late October to install a fish ladder meant to help fish and shrimp travel up a 22-foot vertical wall in the river. The diversion reduced water levels in the river so egregiously that the stream bed at the river mouth was reduced to warm puddles of water. Reduced river flows and rainfall were cited by officials as contributing to a “substantial fish kill” at the river mouth.

Nearby residents put out a call for kōkua to rescue ʻoʻopu from the dry stream beds. Volunteers from the community joined DLNR staff with buckets and coolers to gather the struggling fish and move them to streams higher in ʻÏao Valley hoping they would recover.

Four of the five species of ʻoʻopu found in Hawaiian streams, are endemic to Hawaiʻi. ʻOʻopu hiʻukole are considered a “threatened” species, while ʻoʻopu nākea and ʻoʻopu nōpili are considered “species of special concern” by the American Fisheries Society.

Larval Fish Are Eating Our Trash

A new ocean study indicates not only a significant accumulation of microplastics in Hawaiian waters, but that larval fish are eating the debris. Researchers from Hawaiʻi Pacific University, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other agencies released the study.

The research centered on waters off the Kona coast of Hawaiʻi Island. Larval fish living in this habitat are eating the trash that surrounds them. Surface waters near West Hawaiʻi were sampled. Plastic particles outnumbered larval fish seven to one. The researchers found tiny plastic pieces in the stomachs of commercially targeted species, including swordfish and mahimahi.

“The fact that larval fish are surrounded by and ingesting non-nutritious toxin-laden plastics, at their most vulnerable life-history stage, is cause for alarm,” said Jamison Gove, a research oceanographer and co-lead of the study.

These disturbing discoveries spotlight the negative impact humans have on the planet. Changes to reduce our impact are needed now.

The publication is titled “Prey-size plastics are invading larval fish nurseries” and is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

DHHL Beneficiaries Offered Vacant Lots in Kapolei

Beneficiary families gathered at the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) headquarters on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019 for a chance at being selected as one of the 23 to receive a vacant lot within the Department’s Kaʻuluokahaʻi Subdivision located east of Kapolei Parkway near the Salvation Army Kroc Center.

Offers were made to applicants from DHHL’s wait list through 1985 and Kaʻuluokahaʻi Undivided Interest lessees. Twenty-six families prequalified for the selection following an orientation held in September.

“Today is a very happy day,” said Hawaiian Homes Commission Chair William J. Aila, Jr. “The vacant lot program allows the opportunity to build what beneficiaries want and to seek resources beyond what the Department has available – contractors and skilled family and friends – to ultimately build what they want and what they can afford.”

DHHL’s vacant lot offer is among a variety of offerings provided to beneficiaries, the product is unique in that it allows a family to select and construct a home that best fits its needs.

The Kaʻuluokahaʻi award is the fourth lot selection since June, and is among 395 planned for 2019. Over 1,300 lots are in the Department’s production pipeline for the next five years.

Final EA Finds No Significant Impact in Honomū Subsistence Agriculture Project

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) issued its final Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of “No Significant Impact” for the Department’s Honomū Subsistence Agriculture Homestead Community in South Hilo on Hawaiʻi Island.

DHHL’s Honomū project will be the first of its kind on the island and is among expanded options to bring beneficiaries the opportunity to return to the land and promote self-sufficiency through farming.

“Honomū is a pilot project to implement the Department’s new rules for subsistence agricultural lots,” said Hawaiian Homes Commission Chair William J. Aila, Jr. “These lots will allow beneficiaries to live and cultivate their land while producing locally grown food for themselves and their families.”

A bid for the first phase should go out in early 2020. The project’s first phase is anticipated to cost $2 million and will include the infrastructure development for 16 one-acre subsistence agricultural homestead lots near ʻAkaka Falls.

In 2017, DHHL updated its Administrative Rules allowing for Subsistence Agriculture which provides beneficiaries with more manageable lot sizes and removed the requirements of traditional agricultural lots. The project in total is anticipated to include up to 375 lots to provide beneficiaries subsistence agriculture parcels ranging in size from one to three acres.

The EA can be read in full at the following link:

Applicants Sought for 2020 Lei Court

Photo: 2019 Lei Court Participants
Photo: Courtesy of Department of Parks and Recreation

The Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation is seeking applicants to become part of the prestigious lei court ʻohana!

Applications are available online at in the “Lei Day Celebration” section. For information on the Lei Court Selection Event and applications contact Samantha Sun at (808) 768-3032. Applications must be received or postmarked by Friday, January 3, 2020.

In accordance with the rotating age groups, applicants must be 31-45 years of age by Saturday, March 7, 2020, to qualify. The theme for the 2020 Lei Day Celebration is Lei ʻIli, lei of special places.

Applicants will be judged on their lei-making abilities, hula performance, poise, personality, and public speaking in English and Hawaiian. The selection will determine the Lei Queen and King and their princes and princesses to represent the City and County of Honolulu in an honorary capacity during select events throughout the year. Of those events, the Lei Day Celebration is one of the most prominent.

The 93rd Annual Lei Day Celebration will be on Friday, May 1, 2020, at the Kapiʻolani Park, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information on the Lei Day Celebration, contact Kaiulani Kauahi, Lei Day Celebration Chairperson, at (808) 768-3041.

Tourism Authority Awards Funding to Hawaiian Cultural Programs

The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) announced in October it is awarding funding to 43 programs in the Hawaiian Islands through its Kūkulu Ola program for the 2020 calendar year. This is in addition to the 95 programs and events HTA is funding through its Community Enrichment program, and 34 programs through its Aloha ʻāina program. The money comes from tourism dollars through the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT), which people pay when they stay in legal accommodations throughout the state.

HTA’s Kūkulu Ola program funds community-based nonprofit organizations which represent cultural practitioners, craftsmen, musicians and artists committed to perpetuating and strengthening a broader understanding and appreciation of the Hawaiian culture.

One of HTA’s goals is to reinvest in the Hawaiian community.

“It’s imperative that the tourism industry recognizes the importance of perpetuating the Hawaiian culture. The culture here is what makes the Hawaiian Islands unique and underpins the authenticity of the visitor experience. As we support these practitioners in strengthening and perpetuating cultural practices in their communities, it’s important for tourism to do its part to give back,” said Kalani Kaʻanāʻanā, HTA’s Director of Hawaiian Cultural Affairs.