‘Ōlelo A Ka Luna Ho‘okele
Aloha mai kākou,
Welina ke aloha iā kākou a pau e na ‘ōiwi, nā mamo o Hawai‘i nei.
Your Office of Hawaiian Affairs is embarking on the next phase of its mission of improving the lives of Native Hawaiians and strengthening all of Hawai‘i. We are launching a new strategic priority process based around four areas: housing, health, education, economic stability. This is part of a move to directly benefit our Oiwi communities in the areas that we will experience on a day-to-day basis. Over the years OHA has done important work which I’m very proud of. Now we’re rolling up our sleeves and redoubling our focus on the key issues for our people.
Through these four strategic areas, we endeavor to provide greater security for our community, both as individuals and as ohana. For example, we’ve worked with the Boys and Girls Club of Hilo, and have seen great results from their on-the-ground efforts. Their work helps not just the individual keiki, but their entire ‘ohana and the broader community.
We know that we can only achieve these goals by working in concert with the broad fabric of community stakeholders – the Ali‘i Trusts, the many excellent non-profit and non-governmental organizations, schools, health centers, businesses, and Civic Clubs. OHA brings to the table our plethora of resources: community grants; a devotion to data and research, so that we can thoughtfully identify what’s working, and not working, in the community; advocacy, to bring public policy in line with the needs of the community; and community engagement, helping to bridge communication gaps within the public sphere.
OHA is currently working with legislators to increase the Native Hawaiian people’s share of annual revenues generated from the Public Land Trust. In 2006, the Legislature temporarily set that number at $15.1 million annually. More than a decade later, data and research indicate that that amount is substantially too low. This year, the Native Hawaiian Legislative Caucus introduced two bills to address this issue, one of which (HB402) remains alive at this printing. The initial versions of these bills proposed to increase payments to OHA, on behalf of the Native Hawaiian people, to $35 million annually, with a lump-sum back payment of $139 million. These additional funds will help the agency provide critical resources and services to meet the overwhelming needs of our beneficiaries.
These are exciting times for the Ke‘ena Kuleana Hawai‘i. I hope you’re as excited as I am to see the work of OHA come in to focus, as we endeavor to better mālama each other.
Stay tuned over the next few months for opportunities to chime in and provide feedback on OHA’s strategic priorities. Your input will help to shape, mold and inform how we work in the community, and help us to do a better job for all of us.
‘O au iho nō me ke aloha a me ka ‘oia‘i‘o,
Kamana‘opono M. Crabbe, Ph.D.
Ka Pouhana/Chief Executive Officer