During times of tribulation, we can find great wisdom in the mo‘olelo and mana‘o of our ancestors who have come before us. We stand upon the shoulders of our kūpuna and we proudly shoulder their profound legacy. It is our kuleana.
This mana‘o is more important now than it has ever been. It tells us who we are, where we have been, and where we are going. In looking back upon our history, the determination of our people and of our islands is a story of resilience.
I was first elected to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in 1996 and am serving my sixth term representing the islands of Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i. In this time, I have seen the ways in which OHA services its beneficiaries and all of Hawai‘i grow exponentially.
During my first tenure as OHA Chair, the 2011 State of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs had the theme, Eia Hawai‘i, He Moku. He Kānaka, shared with OHA by Dr. Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele.
Eia Hawai‘i, he moku, he kānaka
‘O Hawai‘i kū kahi
E ‘auamo kākou
‘Imi i ka nā‘au
Here is Hawai‘i, the land, the people
We are a people, unique to these islands
Let us bear this ancestral legacy proudly on our shoulders.
Look deep within ourselves for the foundation.
We are Hawai‘i and Hawai‘i is us. Our islands, our way of life, and our Kānaka ‘ōiwi are truly unique. It is my drive to do the work we do.
Of the great work of Tūtū Mary Kawena Puku‘i, one that is special to me is her efforts to research, collect, and compile the poetical sayings of our people. These ‘ōlelo no‘eau show the wisdom of our lāhui, connect us to our kūpuna, and strengthens the determination we need to overcome adversity.
‘Umia ka hanu! Ho‘okāhi ka umauma ke kīpo‘ohiwi i ke kīpo‘ohiwi.
Hold the breath! Walk abreast, shoulder to shoulder.
Be of one accord, as in exerting every effort to lift a heavy weight to the shoulder and to keep together in carrying it along.
I am honored and proud of the ways that OHA has brought our lāhui together. Many community activities have been supported financially and administratively by OHA over the years. This support includes fiscal support, such as the nearly $10 million OHA provided in grants and $367,000 in sponsorships in Fiscal Year 2017 alone.
Exactly a year ago, I penned a joint letter in Ka Wai Ola with Ka Pouhana, Dr. Kamana‘opono Crabbe. We pledged to restore unity and stability within our hale, and to restore the integrity and credibility of OHA leadership. It has been my great kuleana as Chair of the Board to lead by example. I have championed efforts to improve the way we serve our beneficiaries through convening an Ad Hoc Committee on Grants and Sponsorships. Through this work, I was able to pass a Board action on a moratorium of certain spending until we can finalize pono recommendations moving forward.
Together we have survived and together we will overcome. We can thrive, succeed, and take control of our future. With so many external forces challenging us as a lāhui, this resilience is what will empower us to ho‘omau and holomua.
He ‘a‘ali‘i ku makana mai au; ‘a‘ohe makani nana e kula‘i.
I am a wind-resisting ‘a‘ali‘i; no gale can push me over.
The ‘a‘ali‘i bush can stand the worst of gales, twisting and bending but seldom breaking off or falling over.
We must be like the ‘a‘ali‘i. Standing fast in the strongest of makani, not bending or yielding to anyone or anything.
E hana kākou!