News Briefs | January 2024

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OHA Honors Ke Aliʻi Pauahi

Photo: Staff and students of Kamehameha Schools (KS)
Each year, on December 19, the staff and students of Kamehameha Schools (KS) celebrate the birthday of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the schools’ founder. Celebrations are held at all KS campuses and at Mauna ʻAla, the Royal Mausoleum in Honolulu where hoʻokupu are offered at her tomb. Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) leaders joined KS leaders and other dignitaries at Mauna ʻAla to honor the Hawaiian princess whose generosity has changed the lives of tens of thousands of ʻŌiwi and their ʻohana. Representing OHA and presenting a hoʻokupu at this year’s Founder’s Day celebration at Mauna ʻAla were (l-r): Trustees Brickwood Galuteria, Keliʻi Akina, Luana Alapa, CEO Stacy Ferreira, and Trustee Keoni Souza. Trustees Alapa, Akina, Galuteria and Souza are all Kamehameha alumni. – Photo: Jason Lees

Defueling at Red Hill Almost Complete

U.S. Army INDOPACOM Brig. Gen. Lance A. Okamura of the Joint Task Force-Red Hill reported that the first phase of gravity defueling – draining the jet fuel storage tanks at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility (Kapūkakī) down to the 7-foot level – was completed on November 17.

The next phase of gravity defueling – removing the remaining fuel from the tanks (called flowable tank bottoms) began on December 5 and was completed on December 7. The final phase of gravity defueling, “unpacking” (removing the fuel from the pipelines) began on December 12 and was finished by December 15.

With gravity defueling complete, Okamura, who is also Native Hawaiian, said that 99.9% of the fuel at Kapūkakī has been removed.

There is still residual fuel that cannot be drained via gravity because it has pooled in low point drains, bends or sags in the pipelines. Based on detailed surveys and engineering analysis the Army estimates that 64,000 gallons of fuel still remains.

Work to clear the rest of the fuel resumes after the holidays. During the planned pause for the holidays, Okamura said that all risk mitigation controls implemented to prevent additional leaks remained in place during the holiday break, including active monitoring of the entire facility 24/7 – roving security and fire watch personnel as well as camera systems.

Gravity defueling of Kapūkakī was completed 30 days ahead of schedule.

CRI Pursues Navy Accountability in Public Meetings

As part of the enforcement action against the U.S. Navy after the 2021 jet fuel leak at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility polluted the island’s primary aquifer and poisoned some 93,000 people, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required the Navy to meet regularly with a Community Representation Initiative (CRI). The members of the CRI were elected this past September and began meeting in October with officials from the Joint Task Force on Defueling, the Navy, Defense Logistics Agency, and the EPA.

At their December 12 meeting at Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Liliʻu Hall in Honolulu, the exchange grew heated as CRI members and the public took Navy officials to task over continuing reports of health problems connected to the Navy waterlines, and the difficulty in securing information about the pollutants in the water supply.

In addition to jet fuel, the aquifer may be contaminated with other highly toxic chemicals added to the fuel, such as EDB (ethylene dibromide), and PFAs (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). PFAs are referred to as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment or in our bodies. According to CRI representatives, PFAs discovered in the aquifer in November had a chemical composition different from the PFAs-concentrates spilled at Red Hill in 2019 and 2022.

CRI meetings are open to the public. To encourage participation, meetings are in the evening, include food and a play area for keiki. For more info go to: https://redhillcri.my.canva.site/.

Hawaiʻi DOH Secures $75M for Clean Water

The Hawaiʻi Department of Health (DOH) partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to secure up to $75 million for use by the Honolulu Board of Water Supply (BWS). A potential use for this funding is remediation of BWS’ Hālawa Shaft.

After the November 2021 jet fuel spill at the Navy’s Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, BWS closed the Hālawa Shaft out of an abundance of caution. If testing shows water from the Hālawa Shaft is unsafe, the funds can be used for a treatment system that will enable BWS to bring the Hālawa Shaft back into service.

“The BWS’ decision to raise water rates by about 50% may create a hardship for many residents. It’s important for the BWS to take advantage of available federal funding to reduce the costs it passes on to Oʻahu residents,” said Gov. Josh Green.

“These funds provide an opportunity to increase the supply of safe drinking water in the near term and potentially avoid the need to construct a new replacement well,” said State Health Director Dr. Kenneth Fink. Similar treatment systems have already been installed in Mililani and at the ʻEwa Shaft treatment facilities.

DOH identified potential funding through the emerging contaminants provision in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). A project is eligible for this funding if it addresses any contaminant that does not currently have a set federal minimum contaminant level (MCL) and appears on any of the Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List (CCL).

ASUH Hosts Panel Discussion on the 1993 Apology Resolution

Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) Hawaiʻi Island Trustee Mililani Trask with distinguished panelists
On November 19, in honor of Lā Kūʻokoʻa, Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) Hawaiʻi Island Trustee Mililani Trask joined other distinguished panelists in a discussion on the Apology Resolution, signed by then-President Bill Clinton in 1993. The panel discussion was hosted by the Associated Students of the University of Hawaiʻi (ASUH) at UH Mānoa. Pictured here (l-r): Moderator and ASUH President Kainoa Azama, Kahu Kaleo Patterson, The Nation of Hawaiʻi Vice President Brandon Makaʻawaʻawa, Honolulu City Councilwoman Esther Kiaʻāina, Trustee Mililani Trask, Event Coordinator ASUH Undergraduate Academic Affairs Committee Chair Kainalu James-Foree and Vice Chair Mariko Quinn. – Photo: Kahelelani Keawekāne

Surfer Jones Wong Wins the 2023 Pipe Masters

Photo: 2023 Pipe Masters women’s champion Moana Jones Wong and men’s second place winner Makana Pang
2023 Pipe Masters women’s champion Moana Jones Wong and men’s second place winner Makana Pang. Jones Wong’s bronze trophy (foreground) was created by artist Solomon Enos. – Photo: Courtesy of Moana Jones Wong via Instagram

ʻŌiwi Surfer Moanalani Jones Wong took the win for the women’s competition at the 2023 Vans Pipe Masters on December 12. She is now a two-time Pipe Master. Dubbed the “Queen of the Pipeline” by Surfer magazine, Jones Wong’s performance in the competition was described as “unstoppable.”

Pipeline specialist Nathan Fletcher was quoted by Surfer magazine saying that Jones Wong “took it to Pipeline like no other female took it to Pipeline. What we saw in the water has never been done.”

In an Instagram post Jones Wong said, “I woke up thinking I didn’t even have a chance to make the finals. All I wanted was to catch a couple waves at my favorite place in the world. She gave me more than a couple waves. She gave me a Pipe Masters title. Pipeline, I never wanna stop dancing with you.”

The Pipe Masters is one of the world’s most prestigious surf contests. Waves at the Banzai Pipeline (off ʻEhukai Beach in Pūpūkea on Oʻahu’s north shore) are some of the most challenging in the world.

ʻŌiwi Olympic gold medalist Carissa Moore took third place in the women’s competition. Hawaiʻi surfer John John Florence took the men’s trophy.

Artist Enos Tapped to Create Pipe Masters’ Trophies

Renowned ʻŌiwi artist Solomon Enos was commissioned to create the trophies for the 2023 Vans Pipe Masters surf competition (see related story).

Enos sculpted his design for the trophies from recycled materials in his studio, then wrapped them in layers of epoxy clay, then chiseled and carved the trophy into its final form before sending it to Vans’ headquarters in California where the trophies were cast in bronze.

In an Instagram post, Enos explains the design and its inspiration: “This kiʻi is an expression of Nāmakaokahaʻi, an Akua Wahine of the ocean, on her quest to challenge her sister and rival, Pele, an Akua Wahine we associate with volcanoes. Where and when their forces meet, chilly seawater and molten rock clash in a timeless battle.

“With this trophy I am meditating on the form that the ocean takes, instigated by shorelines, heaving up and tumbling over a body of water made literal in this iteration.”

Enos grew up near Mākaha Beach on Oʻahu and drew from his personal experiences in the ocean. He said that the trophies’ cyclical motif is a slight nod to a shark’s anatomy “with an echo of gills and a dorsal fin on her back,” referring to the Pele clan’s ability to take shark forms.

“It is an honor that I am able to be a conduit for this narrative as those ancient and ancestral forces push and pull and tug upon me, expressed in the timelessness I aspire to capture in everything I make,” he said.

Empowering Kānaka-Owned Businesses

Purple Maiʻa’s Mālama Design Studio opened applications for its next cohort on Dec. 4, 2023, and will be accepting applications through Feb. 1, 2024. This innovative nine-month incubator aims to equip Native Hawaiian-owned businesses with tools and strategies to expand their presence across the pae ʻāina and into new markets, addressing critical issues of inequality.

Their team of Kānaka creators will provide essential services in graphic design, website support, branding, and social media management while training our participants in the skills they need to build strong, sustainable businesses.

Mālama Design Studio assists both startups and established industry leaders focusing on critical sectors of the economy including food security, land stewardship, health and wellness, renewable energy, housing solutions, and biocultural restoration. The ultimate goal is to cultivate a coalition of Kānaka organizations committed to achieving a circular, regenerative economy based on aloha ʻāina, self determination and sovereignty they describe as “Eahou.”

Interested entrepreneurs are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to join Mālama Design Studios and be part of this transformative movement. The kick off will be March 1, 2024.

Mālama Design Studio was created by the Purple Maiʻa Foundation in partnership with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Wintehn Park New OCS Director

Photo: Wintehn Park

Native Hawaiian attorney and legislative veteran Wintehn Park was confirmed as the new director of the Office of Council Services (OCS) with a unanimous vote from the Honolulu City Council on December 6. OCS consults with the council to research and draft city legislation and provide legal representation.

Park began his career in private practice, later moving into government work at the State Office of Information Practices as a staff attorney and over the years has held a variety of roles including serving as special counsel for the Senate, legal counsel for Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, and Senate Majority Attorney. In 2019, he became interim director of the Senate Majority Research Office.

“Mr. Park has served the people of Hawaiʻi through his expertise at the Senate level, which in combination with his private-sector legal and professional background, make him a terrific choice to fulfill the office’s mission to support the council and its committees in developing policies and laws that improve the lives of our residents,” said Honolulu City Council Chair Tommy Waters.

Park graduated from Kamehameha Schools Kapālama. He received his bachelor’s degree from Pitzer College, and his law degree from UH Mānoa’s William S. Richardson School of Law.

Hoʻomaikaʻi OHA Service Award Recipients!

Photo: OHA Service Award Recipients
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ all-staff gathering on December 5 included a special Service Awards Ceremony for staff celebrating 5-, 10- and 20-year milestones at OHA. Pictured (l-r) are Trustee Aide Nathan Takeuchi (20 years), Communications Director Alice Silbanuz standing in for Beneficiary Services Agent Gayla Haliniak-Lloyd (10 years), Loan Officer Lareina Meinecke (10 years), IT Manager Tiger Li (10 years), Lead Compliance Specialist Kamakana Ferreira (10 years), Trustee Aide Claudine Calpito (10 years), Operations Support Supervisor Holly Yamachika (5 years), Operations Support Coordinator and Assistant Denielle Meyer (5 years), Financial Analyst Grace Chen (5 years), Systems Engineer and Administrator Kevin Chak (5 years), OHA Trustee Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey, and OHA CEO Stacy Ferreira. – Photo: Jason Lees

Shanlyn Park Appointed Federal Judge

Photo: Shanlyn Park

In a bipartisan vote on November 30, the U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Shanlyn Park to serve as a federal judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaiʻi. Park is the first Native Hawaiian woman to serve as a federal judge.

She was nominated for the position by President Joe Biden upon the recommendations of Sen. Mazie Hirono, Sen. Brian Schatz, and the merit-based Federal Judicial Selection Commission.

Prior to her confirmation, Park worked for 20 years as a senior litigator for the Office of the Federal Public Defender representing indigent clients in Hawaiʻi charged with federal offenses, and since 2021 has served as a state court judge on Oʻahu’s First Circuit Court.

“Inclusion of Native Hawaiians in the courts that preside over matters in Hawaiʻi is critically important to advancing trust in the judicial system and the rule of law,” said Makalika Naholowaʻa, Native Hawaiian Legal Corp executive director and president of the National Native American Bar Association.

The federal judiciary sorely lacks for Indigenous representation. Out of more than 870 federal judgeships, only seven judges are Native American, Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian.

Park attended Sacred Hearts Academy and earned her law degree from UH Mānoa’s William S. Richardson School of Law.

Home Sweet Home

Photo: Akiyoshi with family and friends
For several years the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) has followed Pua Akiyoshi’s journey to home ownership. While on the DHHL wait list, Akiyoshi took a financial literacy course funded by OHA and when she was finally awarded a homestead in Waimānalo, she signed up with OHA grantee Honolulu Habitat for Humanity (HHH) to help build her house. Construction began about seven months ago and in December she was able to move into her new home. At her December 7 house blessing, Akiyoshi (seated center wearing lei) is surrounded by ʻohana, friends and HHH staff – including CEO TJ Joseph (kneeling next to Akiyoshi). – Photo: Teresa Terrell

Teves Appointed to Tribal Advisory Committee

Photo: Glenn Teves

Glenn Teves, a Molokaʻi-based county extension agent for UH Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Services (CTAHR), was appointed in December to serve on a new Tribal Advisory Committee (TAC) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) by U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

Authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill, the TAC will provide advice and guidance to the Secretary of Agriculture on Native equities in USDA programs and policies and develop an annual report to Congress.

“Mr. Teves has decades of experience practicing and promoting Native Hawaiian agriculture as a farmer, county extension agent, and community advocate,” said Chairman Schatz. “The expertise he brings to the Tribal Advisory Committee will help guide USDA’s work to support Native-led agriculture across the country, including subsistence farming and related cultural practices.”

A graduate of Kamehameha Schools Kapālama and UH Mānoa with a degree in horticulture technology, Teves has been on staff at CTAHR on Molokaʻi for over 40 years.

Teves and his wife, Jane, own and operate Puakala Farms, a sustainable farm on Hawaiian Home Lands in Hoʻolehua, Molokaʻi.

A Christmas Wreath Workshop in Hilo

To kickoff the holidays, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) hosted a Christmas Wreath Workshop in partnership with the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in Hilo on December 16. Kumu Na‘auao Vivas led the workshop, and besides teaching technique, he shared how important it was to be thoughtful about the wreath’s mo‘olelo and the kaona of the materials being used. Participants brought materials from their ‘āina to use in their wreaths. It was a wonderful time to build pilina and forge new friendships. At the end of the day, each participant had a beautiful one-of-a-kind wreath to take home. Pictured (l-r) are Vivas, OHA Communications Director Alice Silbanuz, and OHA Beneficiary Services Agent (Hilo) ‘Ilima Kela.- Courtesy Photo

Quirk Recognized for Dedication to Students

Photo: Mahealani Quirk

Jennifer Māhealani Ah Sing Quirk, director of the Graduate Professional Access (GPA) program of UH Mānoa’s Office of Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity, was awarded the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Region VI Mid-Level Student Affairs Professional Award in November.

In addition to guiding and supervising the GPA program, Quirk assists students to pursue and complete graduate degrees, designs/facilitates graduate school exploration and preparation workshops, and mentors students who wish to present their research at academic conferences.

She also co-authored a federally funded Native Hawaiian Education Program grant worth more than $2 million, and is the co-principal investigator and a program mentor for the Hilinehu Educational Leadership Advancement initiative, a partnership between GPA and the College of Education.

A graduate of UH Mānoa, Quirk previously worked for UH’s Native Hawaiian Student Services (NHSS) where she designed and implemented a summer bridge program for Hawaiian community college students transitioning to UH Mānoa that helped to increase acceptance and retention rates.

Happy Hilo Holidays

OHA Hilo-based staff celebrated the holidays with their own wreath-making workshop followed by a make-your-own-poke-bowl luncheon! Pictured (l-r) are Strategy Management Analyst Charene Haliniak, Legacy Land Agent Kalena Blakemore, and Public Policy Advocate Kealoha Pisciotta. – Photo: ʻIlima Kela