I have long believed in the power of lōkahi, of unity, in working together toward a common goal – in Hawaiians working together to better all of our lives. It is only through a spirit of lōkahi, with all Native Hawaiian organizations working in unity, that we can truly realize a vibrant lāhui.
Today at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), we are moving forward to better the conditions of the Native Hawaiian people.
Our 15-year Mana i Mauli Ola Strategic Plan responds to community input by focusing on the immediate needs of our people in the areas of education, health, housing and economic stability – all on a foundation of strengthened ʻohana, moʻomeheu and ʻāina.
Our Trustees have implemented a new governance structure and policy framework; we have moved forward to activate and revitalize OHA’s 30 acres of waterfront property in Kakaʻako Makai, and we continue to work with the community on our Wahiawa lands.
As part of an overall effort to develop our assets and ongoing work to strengthen and diversify our endowment, we have reorganized the agency to reduce overhead costs, streamline operations, and redirect resources to our beneficiaries and communities.
Our Grant Awards to community nonprofit organizations serving the Native Hawaiian community have increased from $6 million dollars in 2006 to $16 million dollars in fiscal year 2022 – a record for OHA. And our overall two-year fiscal biennium budget for grants and sponsorships has been set at $30.2 million dollars – another record for the agency – and an increase from the $24.15 million dollars that was set for the last fiscal biennium.
In the interest of financial transparency, OHA has posted 18 years of financial statements and audit information on our website plus three years of single audits of the Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund completed by four independent audit firms. Each audit conducted by those firms provided an unqualified (or clean) opinion.
This is a new day at OHA, and we will continue to kūlia i ka nuʻu and continue to hoʻomau until we are satisfied that we have created the type of agency that the Native Hawaiian people truly deserve – an agency that is the best that it can possibly be.
This past legislative session was a monumental one for the Native Hawaiian people.
The State Legislature’s $600 million dollar appropriation to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) was such welcome news – although long in coming. These funds provide the Native Hawaiian community the opportunity to begin to heal from the injustices of the past – injustices that Hawaiians have suffered in our own homeland inflicted by our own state government. These funds have the potential to make a significant impact in the lives of our people. Support for the housing needs of Native Hawaiians through DHHL is a key component of our strategic plan. We applaud this year’s legislature as one that took the concern for Native Hawaiians to heart while addressing the state’s serious shortage of affordable housing.
This legislative session also saw collaborative support from both the house and senate for a public land trust bill, signed into law as Act 226 by Gov. Ige, that raised annual payments to OHA from $15.1 to $21.5 million dollars, provided an additional sum of $64 million, and outlined plans for the formation of a working group to continue discussions on this crucial issue.
We Hawaiians must continue to work together, lōkahi me ke aloha, standing firm on our foundational strengths of ʻohana, moʻomeheu and ʻāina. If we do, we can indeed hoʻoulu lāhui aloha – raise a beloved lāhui. Mahalo nō.