Huliau… A Turning Point, A Time of Change


‘O ka hoʻohui ‘āina, he huliau ia no Hawaiʻi

Leina‘ala Ahu Isa, Ph.D., Trustee, At-Large

By the time you read this, the legislature is about to “sine die” (adjourn). And hopefully, SB2122, SD1, HD2, HD3 has passed and become law.

How OHA has pushed for years for a greater share of revenue from the land formerly held by the Hawaiian Kingdom. The state has shortchanged OHA by $638M over the last decade. OHA uses the Public Land Trust (PLT) revenues (currently capped at $15.1M per year) to fund grants and programs that serve Hawaiian beneficiaries. The history of the 1.4 million acres that currently comprise the PLT is very complex, going all the way back to the Māhele of 1848.

Forty years ago, “management” was a very bad word in nonprofit organizations. Because management meant “business” and the one thing a nonprofit was NOT, was a business! Today, nonprofits understand that they need management even more because they have no conventional bottom line. Now they need to learn how to use management so that they can concentrate on their mission. For years, most nonprofits felt that good intentions were, by themselves, enough. (Peter Drucker: Managing In A Time of Great Change, 1995)

And although OHA is a state agency with a high degree of autonomy and is responsible for improving the wellbeing of Native Hawaiians, it does take on a nonprofit perception. We, as Trustees, are primarily tasked with setting up OHA’s policies and “managing” the agency’s trust as its top fiduciaries. We must have discipline rooted in our mission. We must manage the limited resources of our ‘āina (land) and money for maximum effectiveness.

The “danger,” Drucker explains, is in acting on what you believe satisfies the customer. You will inevitably make wrong assumptions: “Leadership should not even try to guess at the answers; it should always go to customers in a systematic quest for those answers. And so, in the self-assessment process, you will have a three-way conversation with your board, staff, and customers, and include each of these perspectives in your discussions and decisions.”

OHA, in my humble opinion, is expanding our vision by listening to our beneficiaries, by encouraging constructive dissent, and by looking at the sweeping transformation taking place in our society. (Huliau)

Photo: “Hōkūle‘a” rock
The “Hōkūle‘a” rock gifted to Trustee Ahu Isa by Tommy Holmes. – Photo: Courtesy

The Hōkūleʻa is a performance-accurate waʻa kaulua, a Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe whose first voyage was to Tahiti in 1976. One of its original crew members was my very good friend, top-notched rough waterman Tommy Holmes, who was the driving force to raise funds to make this first voyage possible. His gift to me was this “Hōkūleʻa” rock that I share with you today. Hōkūleʻa marks its 45th anniversary since its maiden voyage, and also marks a Huliau for Hawaiʻi’s people and for OHA.

Mālama nā poʻe; Take care of each other, Trustee Leinaʻala Ahu Isa