OHA service award recipients

Photo Above: Meet your OHA Staff Service Awardees for 2019! The work of OHA is dependent upon the dedicated staff who are committed to implementing the programs and initiatives articulated by our Trustees and Administrators. To celebrate, staff came together on December 12th for the annual Staff Service Awards program where staff celebrating service to OHA in five-year increments are honored. Pictured here are some of this year’s awardees. Seated (l-r): Lady Garrett, Anita Manzano, Merlyn Akuna, Mylene Lacuesta and Kaʻimookalani Muhlestein. Standing (l-r): Miles Nishijima, Anthony Pacheco, Sterling Wong, Mark Eshima and Kai Markell. E hoʻomaikaʻi iā oukou! – Photo: Jason Lees

Adopt-a-Tree Program Established

In a response to climate change, the Honolulu City Council urged the City Administration to establish an island-wide adopt-a-tree program. Urban trees reduce air pollution; improve water quality; provide wildlife habitat; stabilize street temperatures; create shade; act as sound and wind barriers; reduce surface storm water runoff; increase property values; improve mental health; provide places for recreation and help create a sense of place.

Currently underway is a pilot adopt-a-tree project in Kailua, Oʻahu. In March 2019, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration committed to increase Oʻahu’s total canopy size to 35% by 2035.

The resolution was authored by Councilmember Kym Pine.

Alejo Receives 2019 Suzanne Richmond-Crum Award

Photo: Raymond Alejo with Governor Ige
Raymond Alejo with Governor Ige

The Hawaiʻi State Department of Health (DOH) recently announced Raymond Alejo as the recipient of the 2019 Suzanne Richmond-Crum Award for his outstanding contributions in providing HIV/AIDS services in Hawaiʻi. The award was presented on December 1 at the Cathedral of St. Andrew, during the World AIDS Day ceremony.

“For the past 19 years, Raymond has dedicated his life to working with people living with HIV in Hawaiʻi,” said Peter Whiticar, Chief of the DOH’s HIV/AIDS program. “His advocacy and loving care for people living with HIV has helped reduce the stigma, fear and unknowns that can keep vulnerable patients from receiving care.”

Alejo serves as an HIV registered nurse case manager and community HIV educator at the Hawaiʻi Health & Harm Reduction Center (fka the Life Foundation). Alejo offers presentations on prevention and treatment, and has developed cultural competency trainings to help healthcare providers better service the Native Hawaiian community.

Blessing for Restored Icon of Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma

Photo: Royal Chapel Interior
Photo: Ann D. Hansen

The Cathedral of St. Andrew in Honolulu held a special blessing of their newly renovated Wahi Kapu (royal chapel) which included the installation of the restored icon of the Cathedral’s royal patrons, King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma on November 24th. The icon (religious painting) was commissioned in 1999 by the late Malcom Naea Chun, but had suffered minor deterioration over the years.

The Wahi Kapu renovation was approved in 2015 by Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick, and the Renovation Committee included Dr. Haʻaheo Guanson, Leimalama Lee Loy, John Condrey and Ann Hansen. The Committee engaged cultural practitioner and kapa expert Dalani Tanahy to create a design for the Wahi Kapu floor. Her design combines sea urchin, a female motif, with shark tooth, a male motiff. Additionally, cultural practitioner Marques Marzan was commissioned to create a contemporary art piece for the renovation.

Chun passed away unexpectedly a year ago, before the Wahi Kapu renovation project could be completed. In addition to being an Episcopal Reverend, he was a noted Native Hawaiian scholar and the author of many books on Native Hawaiian traditions and practices.

Mahi to be Honored

Photo: Aaron Mahi
Aaron Mahi

The Hawaiʻi Arts Alliance will honor Aaron Mahi with the 2019 Alfred Preis Award at the Alliance’s annual fundraising event at the Halekulani on Saturday, February 1, 2020.

Perhaps best known as the Bandmaster and Conductor of the Royal Hawaiian Band, Mahi is a also a composer, arranger, educator, pastor and chef. As Bandmaster, Mahi toured Europe, and performed at Carnegie Hall and at the Peace Park in Hiroshima. Mahi has also conducted the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, been a pastor at the Community of Christ Church, served on the Oʻahu Burial Council and currently serves as a Hawaiian cultural specialist with Mālama ʻāina Foundation and the Partners in Development Foundation. A bass player and slack key guitarist, Mahi has played with the likes of George Kuo, Martin Pahinui and Eddie Kamae.

Now Conductor of Sovereign Strings, Aaron is recontextualizing the musical soundscapes of Nā Lani ʻEhā: Leleiōhoku, Likelike, Kalākaua, and Liliʻuokalani—through arrangements and voicing.

Tickets for the award ceremony and the annual fundraising event are $300. To purchase tickets with PayPal visit www.hawaiiartsalliance.org/, or call (808) 533-2787.

NH Non-Profits Win $600,000 in Treasury Funds

It was announced in late November that Native Hawaiian non-profits won $600,000 in competitive Treasury Funds. Recipients include the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA), Hawaiian Community Assets (HCA) and the Sovereign Council of the Hawaiian Homestead Associations (SCHHA). The funds will be targeted to support Native Hawaiian housing and business.

The awards were announced at the Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Summit in Washington, D.C. In 2019 the Treasury Department awarded a total of $15 million to Native CDFIs. For more information: www.nativecdfi.net.

OHA Offers Grants to Non-Profits

OHA is now accepting applications from non-profit organizations for its Kūlia Grants Program which offers one-year grant awards for projects that benefit the Native Hawaiian community and align with OHA’s strategic priorities: health; education; income and housing; land and water; and culture. OHA has set aside $250,000 for this purpose.

The Kūlia Grants Program is intended to provide financial assistance to projects that are not generally covered by OHA’s standard Community Grants Program, which typically offers larger, multi-year grant awards. Kūlia Grants range from $25,000 to $100,000. A 10% funding match is required. The grants may be used for capacity building and capital improvement projects.

Eligible non-profit organizations must submit applications by 2:00 p.m., Friday January 10, 2020. Applications are only available online. For more information please visit: www.oha.org/grants.

Representative DeCoite Receives Women of Excellence Award

Photo: Lynn Decoite
Lynn Decoite

Molokaʻi Representative Lynn DeCoite received the Women of Excellence Award at the National Foundation of Women Legislators (NFWL) annual convention in San Antonio, Texas in November. This award identifies women in public office who have worked to break down barriers and overcome obstacles to serve their respective communities.

DeCoite is the first awardee to be selected from Hawaiʻi. She serves House District 13 (East Maui, Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi) and was nominated by Senator Donna Mercado Kim. A third-generation homestead farmer, DeCoite and husband, Russell, own and operate their family farm (L&R Farm) known for Molokaʻi purple sweet potatoes.

DeCoite serves on the Agriculture, Lower & Higher Education, and Tourism & International Affairs committees. She is also the Agriculture Committee Chair for the Council of State Governments – West.

Also attending the convention were Senator Mercado Kim, Senator Sharon Moriwaki, Representative Val Okimoto, Councilmember Kym Pine, and OHA Trustee Kalei Akaka.

Resolution Calling for DHHL to Consult with NH Beneficiaries

On December 4th the Honolulu City Council approved a resolution authored by Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi calling for consultation with Native Hawaiian beneficiaries before the federal Secretary of the Interior takes any final action on DHHL and the City’s request to exchange 50 acres of city land for 50 acres of Hawaiian Homelands that were used to build the rail. A decade ago, DHHL and the City agreed to the land exchange. A major concern, according to Robin Puanani Danner, Homestead Community Development Corporation CEO, is that 50 acres for 50 acres is not necessarily a “value for value trade.”

A 1995 federal law prohibits DHHL from selling or exchanging trust lands without the oversight and consent of the Department of the Interior.

Tsuneyoshi is the first Native Hawaiian woman to serve on the Honolulu city Council.