News Briefs | December 2023


OHA CEO Stacy Ferreira and HNN’s Billy V on Sunrise

Photo: Stacy Kealohalani Ferreira with Billy V
New Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) CEO Stacy Kealohalani Ferreira, sat down with HNN TV personality Billy V on November 17 to record a series of digital interviews “podcast style” for his show, Hawai’i News Now Sunrise. The interviews will be an opportunity for viewers to learn a little bit about Ferreira, as well as to hear about what OHA is doing today, and where Ferreira hopes to take the organization in her new leadership role. To listen to the podcasts go to: Courtesy Photo

$20M for Native Hawaiian Climate Resilience

On November 14, Sen. Brian Schatz and the Department of the Interior, Office of Native Hawaiian Relations (ONHR) announced $20 million in new funding for the Kapapahuliau Climate Resilience Program.

The initiative is funded through a provision of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act authored by Schatz to support Native Hawaiian climate resiliency efforts.

“Through the Kapapahuliau Climate Resilience Program, the federal government is directly funding Native Hawaiian-led climate solutions for the first time ever,” said Schatz. “This $20 million down payment – part of the Inflation Reduction Act’s historic investment in climate action – recognizes the critical role of the Native Hawaiian community in charting a path towards a sustainable, climate resilient future in Hawaiʻi and beyond.”

The Kapapahuliau Climate Resilience Program will prioritize project proposals from Native Hawaiian Organizations (NHOs) that focus on coping with past and present climate change-related impacts; adaptation to projected climate change effects; and efforts towards innovation, transformation, and systemic change to increase Native Hawaiian resilience.

Informed by Native Hawaiian and other subject matter experts over the past year, the Kapapahuliau program is intended to assist NHOs affected by climate change across the pae ʻāina with awards ranging from $100,000 to $5 million.

“Native Hawaiians are seeing climate change affect their communities, nearshore fisheries, traditional foods, resources, and cultural practices,” said Stanton Enomoto, ONHR senior program director. “The program puts critical financial assistance into the hands of the Native Hawaiian Organizations whose practice of aloha ʻāina reflects how the Hawaiian Islands and its environment are essential to the Native Hawaiian community identity.”

Applicants may propose projects with durations of one-to-five years. ONHR will host a two-hour virtual pre-proposal informational session to provide an overview of the program and answer questions on Wednesday, December 13, at 12:00 p.m. HST.

The application deadline for funding is Feb. 29, 2024 at 6:59 p.m. HST. Register to attend the information session at:

For more information about the Kapapahuliau Climate Resilience Program, visit the ONHR website at

FEMA Deadline Extended to December 9

The deadline to apply for federal disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been extended another 30 days. Homeowners and renters with uninsured or underinsured damage to their property from the Maui wildfires have until Saturday, Dec. 9, to apply.

This is also the deadline for homeowners, renters, and businesses to apply to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for a low-interest disaster loan for physical property damage.

“Registering with FEMA for Individual Assistance is the key that opens the door to many kinds of additional federal help, and we want to make sure everyone who is eligible for that aid has an opportunity to receive it,” said James Barros, administrator of the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency.

“The complexity of this event and the diversity of the Maui community created some obstacles to getting all of the people who need help signed up for federal assistance,” he added. “So we’re grateful that FEMA extended the registration deadline.”

FEMA provides funds paid directly to eligible individuals and households. Housing Assistance may include rental assistance, lodging expenses reimbursement, home repair assistance, and replacement assistance. FEMA also provides financial assistance for other disaster-caused expenses and immediate essential needs including funds to replace personal property, moving and storage expenses, transportation assistance, funeral, medical, dental, childcare, and miscellaneous disaster-related items.

As of mid-November, FEMA and the U.S. SBA had approved about $260 million in federal assistance to survivors of the Maui wildfires.

To apply for FEMA aid visit or call 1-800-621-3362.

OHA Hosts 2nd Red Hill CRI Meeting

Photo: Red Hill Community Representation Initiative Meeting
The Red Hill Community Representation Initiative (CRI), a community group comprised of water protectors, held an in-person and virtual livestream meeting on November 16 at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA). CRI Chair Healani Sonoda-Pale facilitated the meeting attended by Red Hill Joint Task Force representatives, concerned community members, OHA staff and newly appointed OHA Ka Pouhana/CEO Stacy Kealohalani Ferreira. Discussions focused on the defueling process, safe drinking water and air monitoring and included a public Q&A. – Photo: Kevin Chak

Advancing a Circular Economy in Hawaiʻi

Piʻo Summit 2023, a UH Innovation Conference sponsored by UH Mānoa’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, is set for December 13 at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center in Waikīkī.

The modern pursuit of convenience has led to rampant consumerism and waste resulting in the continuous extraction of finite resources used to create products that end up in landfills.

Growing awareness has sparked a demand for urgent action to address issues such as resource management, biodiversity loss, climate change, energy efficiency, waste and pollution. One idea gaining traction is aimed at designing a Circular Economy, where waste is minimal.

Hawaiʻi’s traditional ahupuaʻa system is an example of a circular system. Combining contemporary Circular Economy solutions with ancestral knowledge can create integrated approaches to sustainability that are both regenerative and socially just.

The summit will feature an international panel of keynote speakers, including Dr. Kamana Beamer, a professor with UH’s Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge and Richardson School of Law, and Ka- wika Winter, reserve manager at Heʻeia National Estuarine Research Reserve, part of UH’s Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology.

Session topics will include an overview of the history of Circular Economy as ahupuaʻa; contemporary restoration of ahupuaʻa; experiences, challenges and best practices of circular economy interventions; and UH’s role in creating opportunities for Hawaiʻi’s future.

For more information and to register for Piʻo Summit 2023 go to:

DOI Awards $1 Million in NATIVE Act Grants

The Department of the Interior’s Office of Native Hawaiian Relations (ONHR) has awarded $1 million in grants to eight Native Hawaiian organizations to implement the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience Act. This funding enables Indigenous communities to participate in national tourism goals and strategies, while seeking to enhance and integrate native tourism, empower native communities, and expand unique cultural tourism opportunities.

The eight 2023 HŌʻIHI grant recipients are: Hāna Arts, Hawaiʻi Land Trust, Hiʻipaka LLC., Hōlani Hāna; Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi, Mālama Loko Ea Foundation, The Kohala Center, and Waimea Hawaiian Homestead Association.

“The HŌʻIHI Grant is meant to encourage a tourism model that accurately showcases Native Hawaiian culture and traditions while providing protection and awareness for Hawaiʻi’s natural and cultural resources,” said Kaʻaleleo Wong, HŌʻIHI grant manager with ONHR. “Grant awardees for 2023 exemplify Hawaiʻi’s overall movement towards regenerative tourism.”

For more information about the HŌʻIHI Grant Program and ONHR visit:

Laʻiʻōpua 2020 Fall Puwalu

Photo: Kaulu Amaral
It was a special moment at the Puwalu when lovely Kaulu Amaral offered an impromptu hula. – Photo: Laʻiʻōpua 2020

Over 100 Laʻiʻōpua homesteaders and other DHHL beneficiaries gathered on October 21 at Laʻiʻōpua 2020 (L2020) in Kona, Hawaiʻi Island, for a celebratory puwalu thanks, in part, to a grant from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Guests explored demonstration stations throughout the facility while keiki enjoyed a 40-foot, double plunge water slide. This was a unifying event for DHHL homesteaders, beneficiaries, and stakeholders – a time to sign up for future classes/workshops and enjoy music, food, and camaraderie.

Live music featuring Kahanuola Solatorio and Lina Robins-Tamure & ʻĀina Asing was enhanced with impromptu hula by audience members. And captains Rusty Oppenheimer and Uʻi Malakaua of L2020 waʻa Laʻiʻōpua answered questions and invited participants to sign up for future sails.

L2020’s lānai provided shelter from the elements and featured an array of pūpū and desserts created by the students of Laʻiʻōpuaʻs Youth Culinary Program.

“The puwalu was a celebration of the community’s participation in sharing its manaʻo throughout the year,” said Kawehi Inaba, L2020 executive director. “Their input has helped L2020 to create new workforce development, cultural, and educational opportunities for Native Hawaiians. The puwalu enriched communication between the residents of the Villages of Laʻiʻōpua, DHHL beneficiaries, and Laʻiʻōpua 2020.”

Laʻiʻōpua 2020 is located on Department of Hawaiian Home Lands land, in the “piko” of the Kealakehe ahupuaʻa. For more information,

Makaimoku Named CEO of Hauʻoli Mau Loa Foundation

Photo: Keahi Makaimoku
Keahi Makaimoku – Photo: HML Foundation

Keahi Makaimoku has been named CEO of the Hauʻoli Mau Loa Foundation. Makaimoku, who has been with the foundation as a program officer since 2012, assumed her new role as CEO on November 1.

Makaimoku has diverse experience across the nonprofit and education sectors. Prior to joining the foundation, Makaimoku worked for Kamehameha Schools’ Public Education Support Division where she supported the planning and implementation of the Ka Pua Initiative on the Waiʻanae Coast. She has also served as chair of the Native Hawaiian Education Council since 2019.

Hauʻoli Mau Loa Foundation is a private grantmaking foundation established in 1990 by the late philanthropist Helga Glaesel-Hollenback.

Based in Honolulu, the foundation focuses its efforts on providing opportunities for those in need, especially children, to find hopeful futures, as well as to enhance stewardship, preservation, and protection of Hawaiʻi’s natural environment.

Makaimoku resides in Hilo with her ʻohana and the foundation will continue its practice of being a hybrid workplace.

CNA Training Now Available in Kaʻū

Photo: Hokulani Porter
Hokulani Porter – Courtesy Photo

Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) training is now available in Kaʻū on Hawaiʻi Island at Hopena Kūloli Medical Training Institute.

Hopena Kūloli is the vision of founder and nurse practitioner Hokulani Porter.

As a young single mother, Porter enrolled in a CNA program to learn skills that would enable her to earn a living wage. After working in several long-term care homes she returned to school to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN), then a registered nurse (RN) and finally a nurse practitioner (NP).

While studying to become an NP, Porter was sent to Kaʻū Hospital to complete her clinical study hours. After graduating in 2012 she decided to remain in Kaʻū, recognizing the community’s dire need for health care.

Porter hopes that CNA training will not only provide her students with the skills to earn a living wage in their own community but also help address the acute shortage of health care professionals in Kaʻū, particularly home health care service providers for kūpuna.

The training program requires two full-day classes per week for eight weeks. Clinical practicums are an additional four days. Anyone 18 years old with a high school diploma or GED may enroll. When the course and practicum are completed, students sit for a national board exam. Upon passing the exam they will be certified to work for any health care facility in the U.S.

For more information about Hopena Kūloli Medical Training Institute go to:

Waiʻanae Civic Club Releases E-Book

Historic Waianae E-book
The Waiʻanae Hawaiian Civic Club (WHCC) announced the October 15 virtual release of its Historic Waiʻanae e-book and audiobook to mark the 50th anniversary of the hard copy version of the original publication by author Edward McGrath.

The release is part of an effort to breathe new life into the Waiʻanae community’s rich history through a digital lens. WHCC also aspires to revive ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi within Waiʻanae Moku over the next 50 years. Part of this effort is to distribute pocket-sized ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi dictionaries to fourth graders throughout the region.

Purchasing the e-book or audio version of Historic Waiʻanae will help to fund this initiative. For more information or questions about WHCC, email To purchase Historic Waiʻanae go to:

BISAC Offers New Detox Center

The Big Island Substance Abuse Council’s (BISAC) new Detox Center reflects the organization’s understanding of the different levels of substance abuse treatment and their relative benefits, and programs offered at their Detox Center utilize proven strategies for breaking the cycle of addiction.

A priority for BISAC is creating detoxification and treatment options for people experiencing homelessness and living with a substance use disorder. They do that by providing resources for detoxification and treatment to close the gap in services offered on Hawaiʻi Island, and by creating treatments that sustain recovery and enhance client resilience (i.e., increasing client knowledge base and skills, increasing treatment engagement, continued client engagement following discharge from live-in treatment programs, and increasing access to clean and sober transitional housing).

BISAC also is working to create the infrastructure necessary (staffing, training, facilities) to support ongoing, sustainable detox services.

These detoxification and treatment options will build the organization’s capacity to provide additional units for the most vulnerable populations. The intended outcomes include expanding the continuum of care and increasing the number of transition housing units for individuals who are ready for re-entry. These service interventions provide comprehensive, holistic care to help the most susceptible, underserved populations.

BISAC is an Office of Hawaiian Affairs grantee. If you’re interested in learning more about their programs, such as their Detox Center, please call 808-969-9994 or go to:

Extended Drought Expected for Hawaiʻi Island

The County of Hawaiʻi Department of Water Supply (DWS) has undertaken a multi-phased strategy to meet the public’s essential drinking water needs during the ongoing island-wide drought that weather experts predict will extend well into 2024.

DWS’ drought strategy includes partnering with others including the Civil Defense Agency to prepare for extended dry weather conditions, conserving water storage, establishing temporary services from select fire hydrants so approved water haulers will have more sites from which to draw potable water to help those on personal rainwater catchment systems, and utilizing generators to power water facilities during electrical outages.

DWS also intends to maintain communication with the public about impacts to their water service and posting updated messaging at and on DWS’ Facebook page. They will closely monitor all 23 public water systems and ongoing weather forecasts, continue to promote water conservation and if warranted, issue mandates that customers limit their water use for essentials only (drinking, cooking, hygiene, sanitation).

For water conservation tips go to

PAʻI Foundation Introduces Lunar Planner

Lunar Planner
New for 2024, the PAʻI Foundation is introducing a new Hawaiian Lunar Planner.

Seamlessly blending modern functionality with timeless wisdom, this meticulously crafted tool provides users with daily guidance and tailored recommendations based on the moon’s phases.

While its primary audience is business professionals, the profound insights incorporated into the planner are rooted in the richness of Native Hawaiian cultural traditions that have steered traditional agricultural and fishing practices for countless generations. Experience a bridge between the past and the present as you navigate your days with this unique and culturally enriched planner.

Established in 2001 by Kumu Hula Vicky Holt Takamine, PAʻI is a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and perpetuating Native Hawaiian cultural traditions for future generations. PAʻI views Native Hawaiian artistic practices as a form of resistance, organization and empowerment.

The Hawaiian Lunar Planner will be available for $40 beginning the first week of December. For more information or to place an order visit

Mitigating Visitor Impacts at Kumukahi

Located in the moku of Puna on Hawaiʻi Island, Kumukahi is the easternmost spot in the Hawaiian archipelago. As such, it is a wahi pana with deep spiritual and cultural significance for Native Hawaiians. Kumukahi is a leina a ka ʻuhane, a place where souls of the departed leap from this earthly realm to the realm of the ancestors. The region includes countless cultural sites, including heiau and burials, and is home to many native species of flora and fauna.

It has also become an increasingly popular destination for tourists.

Escalating disrespectful and destructive behavior by visitors gave rise to the introduction of a resolution by Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz asking that Hawaiʻi County agencies, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs take “immediate and long-term measures” to protect the area.

As reported by Big Island Now, on November 15 the Hawaiʻi County Council passed Kierkiewicz’ resolution, reinforcing the council’s promise to protect and preserve Kumukahi.

In 2020, representatives from the Hawaiʻi County Planning Department, University of Hawaiʻi, state Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, plus landowners and lineal descendants from the region began discussing a burial treatment and preservation plan to resolve long-standing iwi kūpuna issues.

County officials will continue to convene relevant agencies and community stakeholders to manage and steward Kumukahi. The resolution identifies nonprofit Hoʻoulu Lāhui to provide immediate and long-term support for these efforts via project management and community engagement. The county will use geothermal royalties collected from Puna Geothermal Venture to help fund the protection and preservation of Kumukahi.

Native Hawaiian Artists Selected for Fellowship

Lehuanani Waipa Ah Nee and Pōhaikealoha Panoke are among 36 people from Indigenous and native communities across the United States who have been selected for a yearlong fellowship offered by the Intercultural Leadership Institute (ILI).

The fellowship includes a series of virtual meetings with other fellows and mentors as well as four in-person trips to a variety of native communities across the country. The artists will discuss issues specific to Indigenous cultures and how their art can capture experiences related to these communities.

Waipa Ah Nee is a Keaukaha native who began her photography career as a Hilo High student. She has documented events such as the Mauna Kea protests and the Mauna Loa eruption and uses her photography to tell inspiring stories about Native Hawaiians.

Panoke is from Waiʻanae and is a media producer, storyteller and founder of ʻŌiwi Online. She works with various forms of creative and digital media including film, interactive works and animation, creating media that supports the perpetuation of Indigenous excellence while educating both natives and non-natives as to the values of Indigenous culture.

“I’m really looking forward to learning about these different cultures and how they are faring in the world politically and physically, and how they are tackling very hard, but recognizable issues,” Waipa Ah Nee told the Hawaiʻi Tribune Herald. “As artists, we have a tool in our hands that becomes a massive paintbrush that we can use to paint what’s in front of us. We can use our work to perpetuate our stories and to tell new ones.”

ILI is a collaborative program of Alternate ROOTS, First Peoples Fund, PAʻI Foundation, Sipp Culture, First Alaskans Institute, and The International Association of Blacks in Dance.

The two artists are part of Cohort 5. Applications for Cohort 6 are currently available at The application deadline is Jan. 12, 2024.

ʻŌiwi Tourism Leaders Gather at Ka Huina Conference

The Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association’s (NaHHA) annual conference event, Ka Huina, made its return to the Hawaiʻi Convention Center in October after being held virtually for the past two years. “Ka Huina is convened with the intent that our panel discussions allow for ‘safe space’ learning with thought-provoking conversations based in a Hawaiian world view. We are hopeful that Ka Huina 2023 will inspire our decision-makers in tourism to hold fast to the intersections where culture and innovation meet so that we can continue to pivot the waʻa into the direction of regeneration for the betterment of all Hawaiʻi,” said NaHHA Executive Director Mālia Sanders. In case you missed it, recordings of all of the event’s insightful panel discussions and inspirational specialty speakers can be found on their website at NaHHA is an Office of Hawaiian Affairs grantee. – Courtesy Photo