Hauʻoli Makahiki Hou! As we move forward to this new year, I continue to advocate for our beneficiaries at the county, state, and federal levels of government as your chair of the OHA Committee on Beneficiary Advocacy and Empowerment. In the upcoming open session of the Hawaiʻi State Legislature, with an ongoing focus on the Native Hawaiian Crown and Government Lands, also known as the “ceded lands” of the Public Land Trust. Additionally, OHA looks to move forward with the commercial development of our Hakuone property at Kakaʻako Makai with an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and bulkhead repairs.
The OHA Board of Trustees approved in December, the OHA 2024 Legislative Package. The package includes a bill for OHA to become the 11th member of the Board of Agriculture (BOA) so that Native Hawaiians will have a greater representation on the BOA as Native Hawaiians were the first agriculture producers in Hawaiʻi, along with OHA’s interest in agriculture such as the 511 acres of agricultural lands near Kūkaniloko. This provides OHA a seat at the table to speak on behalf of our beneficiaries on one of the largest economic sectors in Hawaiʻi. One of our top concerns is the past transfer of the Native Hawaiian Crown and Government Lands from the Department of Land and Natural Resources to the Department of Agriculture and the effect to our income and proceeds from the “ceded” land trust.
The package also includes three resolutions:
- OHA to develop a report on the scope of what being culturally appropriate means across the Education, Healthcare, Housing and Economic Development sectors in Hawaiʻi.
- Urge the State of Hawaiʻi and Counties to develop rural resiliency strategies.
- Urge State commitment to ʻohana experiencing developmental disabilities as Native Hawaiians are overrepresented among those experiencing Intellectual/Developmental Disability (I/DD).
The approach that our team is taking for the 2024 Legislative Session is introducing seed legislation that OHA can nurture and grow into systemic change for the betterment of conditions for Native Hawaiians. Along with empowering beneficiaries to advocate and strengthen collaboration for the support of Native Hawaiians in government, while continuing our efforts with our Hakuone and Native Hawaiian Crown and Government Lands (PLT).
Mahalo in advance for your kōkua, support and testimony! Let’s come together with open minds and aloha. Collectively, we can better our people’s wellbeing through our foundations of ʻohana, moʻomeheu (culture) and ʻāina (our lands and waters). I wish everyone a healthy and prosperous new year!
E hoʻopōmaikaʻi mai iā kākou āpau i kēia makahiki hou!