News Briefs | March 2024


OHA Grant Training Workshops

During the month of February, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ (OHA) Grants Program offered a series of seven in-person and one virtual New Grant Application Training workshops. The workshops were offered throughout the pae ʻāina, with two on Hawaiʻi Island, two on Oʻahu, and one each on Kauaʻi, Maui and Molokaʻi. The workshops were well-received with about 200 in-person and more than 350 online participants. Grants Manager Keʻala Neumann and Grants Officer Ahia Dye led the workshops. OHA neighbor island Beneficiary Service Agents assisted on their respective islands/communities, including Roy Newton (Maui), Kaliko Santos (Kauaʻi), ʻIlima Kela (Hilo), Dawn Tanimoto (Kailua-Kona), and Gayla Haliniak-Lloyd and Zelia Wills (Molokaʻi). OHA BOT Chair Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey was there to kōkua at Maui’s workshop on February 13, while Trustees Kalei Akaka (Oʻahu), Keliʻi Akina (At-Large) and Keoni Souza (At-Large) helped on Oʻahu. Also lending a hand on Oʻahu were Grant Officer Angela Lopes and OHA Research and Evaluation Director Carla Hostetter. Changes to the Grants Program include new solicitation categories, fewer eligibility conditions and a streamlined application and reporting process. Pictured above is the Oʻahu workshop on February 15 (Photo: Jason Lees) and below is theKailua-Kona workshop on February 22 (Photo: Dawn Tanimoto).

A Win for Native Birds

Photo: ʻĀkiapōlāʻau
ʻĀkiapōlāʻau – Photo: Bret Mossman

In the January issue of Ka Wai Ola, our cover story “May Their Songs Fill our Forests Forever,” described a cutting-edge technique developed to combat avian malaria, a disease that has decimated Hawaiʻi’s endangered endemic forest birds.

Called Incompatible Insect Technology (ITT), the process “infects” male mosquitos with the naturally occurring Wolbachia bacteria rendering them sterile. The sterile male mosquitos are released into the ecosystem to mate with the females, preventing reproduction. Conservationists believe ITT offers the best chance to save Hawaiʻi’s remaining native forest birds.

The article noted that a lawsuit by an organization called Hawaiʻi Unites attempted to prevent the release of ITT mosquitos claiming it will harm the environment – a notion disputed by scientists working to save the birds.

On February 6, Civil Beat reported that Circuit Judge John Tonaki granted a summary judgment to conservationists, dismissing the claims of Hawaiʻi Unites as having been addressed in the final environmental assessment.

The ruling is a victory that allows the mosquito control project to continue moving forward. The American Bird Conservancy and nonprofit Birds Not Mosquitos reported in late February that they have begun releasing the non-biting male mosquitos on Maui and Kauaʻi.

Kāʻai Honored by the First Peoples Fund

Photo: Sam Kahaʻi Enaulio Kāʻai
Sam Kahaʻi Enaulio Kāʻai – Courtesy Photo

Samuel Kahaʻi Euanoelio Kāʻai, Jr. has been named as one of four recipients of the 2024 Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Awards (CSA) by the First Peoples Fund, the oldest national organization dedicated to supporting Indigenous artists and culture bearers.

The award celebrates outstanding artists, nominated by their students, mentees or other artists, who have generously utilized their cultural wisdom and ancestral talents for the betterment of their communities. The honorees are dedicated cultural practitioners who have personally demonstrated their commitment to safeguarding and advancing Indigenous culture. Kāʻai, who is kupa to Maui, is a renowned carver, sculptor, weaver, poet, storyteller, and musician.

CSA honorees each receive $25,000 unrestricted cash awards to enable them to continue their important cultural work in their own communities. Also recieving awards this year are Mikelene J. Moquino (Pueblo) a weaver and textile artist; Golga Oscar (Yupʻik Nation) a mixed media artist – beadwork, quillwork, weaving; and Sheila Random (Akwesasne Mohawk Nation) a basket weaver.

“Community Spirit Award honorees’ love for their people is demonstrated through patient and continuous teaching of their art forms and lifeways,” said First Peoples Fund President/CEO Lori Pourier (Oglala Lakota).

For more information visit:

Kīpuka Kuleana’s Annual ʻOhana ʻĀina Workshop

Photo: Community members gather at Kīpuka Kuleana’s annual ʻOhana ʻĀina workshop
On February 10, some 65 community members gathered at Liliʻuokalani Trust on Kauaʻi for Kīpuka Kuleana’s annual ʻOhana ʻĀina workshop. Kīpuka Kuleana is a Kauaʻi nonprofit dedicated to perpetuating kuleana and connection to ʻāina across generations by providing direct support to families who are working to retain their ancestral lands. They do this by connecting ʻohana to resources, helping them to raise funds and establish trusts, negotiating access and stewardship agreements. This year’s workshop featured speakers with expertise in law, land, genealogy, taxes, financing and hoʻoponopono. Topics included land protection strategies, navigating probate and land title issues, estate and trust planning, genealogy research and more. Office of Hawaiian Affairs Beneficiary Services Agent Kaliko Santos represented OHA and was recognized as one of the founders of this annual event. For more information about the work of Kīpuka Kuleana go to: – Photo: Franz Schmutzer, Modesta Media

Building and Construction-Based Education Available

Hoʻākeo Apono: Trades Academy & Institute

For young adults ages 17-24 on Kauaʻi who aspire to a career in the construction, Hoʻākeolapono Trades Academy and Institute offers students a building and construction-based education.

Their innovative, hands-on, 12-week preparatory course provides students with the critical knowledge base and relevant skill sets to pursue a successful career in construction.

This paid internship includes hands-on experience using all types of construction tools, heavy machinery and other equipment, as well as blueprint reading, math and estimating. Participants also earn OSHA-10 certification. Upon program completion, job placement assistance is available.

Hoʻākeolapono was founded by Anahola resident Lawaiʻa Naihe, and is an OHA grantee. Their current cohort is finishing their program, and new programs will begin in April. For more information visit:

Sing Joins National Council on the Humanities

Photo: David Kekaulike Sing
David Kekaulike Sing – Courtesy Photo

Dr. David Kekaulike Sing, Professor Emeritus at UH Hilo and managing partner at Educational Prism, LLC, was sworn in last month as a new member of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ advisory board, the National Council on the Humanities.

“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Sing to NEH’s National Council on the Humanities,” said NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe (Navajo). “A trailblazer of Native Hawaiian education, Sing has shown us the transformative power of pedagogies and curricula that incorporate students’ cultural and linguistic experiences and values. We look forward to his contributions as an advisor on NEH’s grantmaking.”

Sing was nominated to the National Council on the Humanities by President Joe Biden in July 2023 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in December 2023.

The 26-member National Council on the Humanities meets three times a year to review grant applications and to advise the NEH chair. National Council members serve staggered six-year terms. Sing will join the next meeting of the National Council of the Humanities in March 2024.

He is the first Native Hawaiian elected to the board.

BWS Drills a New Well in Hālawa

In early February, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply (BWS) began drilling a new monitoring well in Hālawa in an effort to determine the degree to which the aquifer there has been contaminated by the Red Hill fuel leak in 2021.

The well will be approximately 320 feet deep and enable BWS hydrologists to sample water from the aquifer for petroleum and for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – a class of chemicals that don’t easily break down and can persist in the body and the environment for decades.

The Hālawa shaft has been shut down since December 2021. It is one of Oʻahu’s four main water supply shafts but has remained closed until BWS officials can ascertain that the water is safe. This is the second monitoring well that BWS has had to drill in response to the water contamination crisis at Red Hill. BWS plans to drill additional wells. The work will cost millions and BWS hopes to recover the costs for the new wells from the Navy.

Posthumous Award for Haunani Kay-Trask

Photo: Haunani-Kay Trask
Photo: Kapulani Landgraf

The late UH Mānoa Professor Emerita Haunani-Kay Trask, a passionate and articulate lāhui leader, was posthumously awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the UH Board of Regents at its December 7 meeting.

Trask is known for her contributions to the Hawaiian sovereignty and social justice movements and was a groundbreaking educator at UH Mānoa who played a critical role in founding the university’s Center for Hawaiian Studies which evolved into the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge.

During her career, Trask wrote four books and scores of scholarly articles. She was frequently invited to give keynote addresses at events around the world and won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies.

She was also selected as one of USA Today’s Women of the Century, received the Angela Y. Davis Lifetime Achievement Award, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Locally, she was recognized as one of the 100 most influential citizens of the 20th century by the City and County of Honolulu and named “Islander of the Year” by Honolulu Magazine.

UH professors Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua and Erin Kahunawai Wright are currently writing a biography of Trask’s life.

Red Cross Remains in Maui to Kōkua

Six months after the wildfires, the American Red Cross continues to care for nearly 5,000 affected residents in the temporary emergency non-congregate sheltering (NCS) program.

Over 100 households in the NCS program have successfully returned home. The Red Cross will continue to address the needs of residents whose home sites are due to reopen, making sure they have the resources necessary to settle back into their homes.

To date, over 2,400 households and 3,000 individuals in the NCS program have successfully transitioned into stable housing. Through the Host Housing Support Program, a partnership with the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA), 219 local families are hosting nearly 600 disaster-impacted individuals. Additionally, there are 50 direct leases for disaster-affected individuals in Red Cross care. Participation in the host family and direct lease programs continues to grow, with applications coming in daily.

More than 1,860 Red Cross volunteers deployed to support the disaster relief operation on Maui.

OHA Co-Sponsors DBEDT E-Commerce Conference

Photo: DBEDT E-Commerce Conference
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) recently co-sponsored the Department of Business and Economic Development and Tourism’s (DBEDT) first-ever e-commerce conference. Held at the Ala Moana Hotel on February 21, more than 250 people attended DBEDT’s “Made in Hawaiʻi Presents: Your Future in E-Commerce” conference – almost 30% of whom were Native Hawaiians. To support participation in the conference by our lāhui, OHA covered the registration fees of many of these participants. Manning a booth at the conference to share information about OHA’s loan programs with attendees was OHA Loan Processor Robert Crowell (left). – Photo: Jason Lees