Talk story engages Kaua‘i community


Dan Ahuna, Vice Chair, Trustee, Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihauAloha mai kākou,

In response to community concerns raised in the past I have held talk story sessions in an effort to find resolution to these concerns. It was recommended that we do these more often to better engage with our community as a collective. I thought it was a great idea, thus we held a Kaua‘i Talk Story in Anahola last September, 2017. It was great turnout, attendees included community leaders, a council member and a number of ‘ohana from our community. We had a lively and very, very productive discussion. The overall objective of holding these talk story sessions is to give the community a chance to raise issues, share community projects and to identify ways that OHA might respond.

The hot topics at the Anahola session included the Kaua‘i General Plan and increased development on the North Shore of Kaua‘i that threatens our longtime Kaua‘i ‘ohana and natural resources. OHA funding for Hawaiian charter schools was also discussed.

My office, along with help from our community and OHA staff, followed up on these issues and we were able to make progress. OHA submitted extensive comments on the Kaua‘i General Plan that incorporated the various concerns that were raised in that meeting. Thankfully, Councilmember Mason Chock provided an update that almost all of OHA’s comments were incorporated into the most recent draft of the plan. These include mechanisms to ensure traditional and customary rights and environmental protections are in place for next phases of planning.

With an effort that was led by our charter school community, other OHA trustees and administration, OHA took action to ensure that the charter school funding would continue to go directly to the charter schools rather than through a third party administrative contractor.

These were some of the significant steps that OHA took after our Talk Story session in September. We listened and we did our best to deliver some results. It was a success.

Recently, we held our second town hall on February 13th. Community participants provided updates on some of the issues from the September meeting and current issues within our community were also raised. Some concerns shared were of cultural practitioners not being given adequate access and voice in the caring for Kanaloa, or whales that have beached themselves – more specifically, the mass beaching of pilot whales that took place in Nawiliwili Harbor in October 2017.

Other issues included the numerous threats that are facing the salt ponds in Hanapëpë, the permit application for continued operations of Kaua‘i Springs water bottling, the Coco Palms legal challenges, and greater access for Kaua‘i beneficiaries to OHA grant monies.

As as result of these meetings, we have been able to hear our community and I am hopeful we can assist our beneficiaries in navigating a solution to these tough and controversial issues.

OHA Audit

I also wanted to touch on the recent State Auditor report of OHA. The ultimate takeaway, OHA NEEDS TO GET BETTER! This is not news to us. There are specific areas that the audit noted which point out spending policies and practices that need to be addressed immediately. We are already moving on those areas. And I look forward to making OHA better in the near future. We must all work together, that includes trustees, administration and community to make OHA reach its fullest potential.