News Briefs | January 2021

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Mortgage Loan Deferral Extended for DHHL Borrowers

Photo: DHHL Home
If you have a loan with an outside lender and are facing financial hardship due to COVID-19, DHHL encourages you to contact your provider as soon as possible. – Photo: Courtesy of DHHL

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) has extended the postponement of mortgage loan payments for all DHHL direct loans and loans assigned to the department for an additional three-month period through March 31, 2021.

In September, the Hawaiian Homes Commission (HCC) extended the initial continuance of mortgage loan postponement and delegated authority to HHC Chair William J. Ailā, Jr., to extend postponement beyond the initial three months.

As of Nov. 19, 2020, DHHL Fiscal Division analysis showed that approximately 84.8% of the loans reassigned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development/Federal Housing Administration postponed one or more payments since the initial DHHL-offered deferral in March 2020. Along with that, 55.6% of DHHL direct loan borrowers delayed one or more of their payments.

The deferment is an auto-enrolled postponement. If a borrower decides to continue making payments during the deferral period, DHHL will process the payment as usual. As with the initial and subsequent deferment, interest will continue to accrue during the postponement period. However, no late fees will be added.

All DHHL borrowers received notice of the extension on their January 2021 mortgage loan statement.

For information about DHHL loan deferrals, call (808) 620-9500.

Park Announces Public Scoping Period

National Park ServiceThe National Park Service (NPS) is seeking public feedback on a proposed rehabilitation and upgrade to the existing electrical system at Kalaupapa National Historical Park on the island of Molokaʻi. The park is initiating a 45-day public scoping period in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).

As part of the comment period, NPS is soliciting input on two proposed alternatives. On Dec. 17, 2020, NPS hosted a virtual public scoping meeting via Zoom.

Those who missed the meeting, but are interested in sharing their manaʻo, may do so through Jan. 29, 2021. There are a variety of ways to provide feedback:

For additional information on the project background and proposed alternatives, visit parkplanning.nps.gov/KALA.

Court Rules Aquarium Collection Without Review Illegal

In December, Hawaiʻi’s environmental court ruled that the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) violated the law by allowing the aquarium trade to continue extracting hundreds of thousands of marine animals from Hawaiʻi’s reefs without first reviewing the environmental and cultural impacts.

The ruling shuts a loophole DLNR created after the landmark 2017 decision by the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court mandated public disclosure and analysis of the aquarium pet trade’s effects in Hawaiʻi.

Represented by Earthjustice, Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners, For the Fishes, and the Center for Biological Diversity, filed a lawsuit last year to enforce the court’s prior ruling and ensure compliance with the environmental review process required under the Hawaiʻi Environmental Policy Act.

The animals targeted by the aquarium trade are primarily herbivorous reef-dwellers that serve unique functions in the coral reef ecosystem, such as helping to control algae growth. Studies have shown that reducing reef fish and shellfish diversity affects a reef’s ability to respond to stresses or disturbances.

Despite the 2017 decision, DLNR allowed the industry to sidestep the court rulings, resulting in the extraction of more than a half million marine animals from Hawaiʻi reefs over the past three years.

DLNR claimed that the 2017 court decision applied only to the use of so-called “fine-meshed” nets, then proceeded to give the aquarium industry free rein to continue taking marine life using any other type of equipment. The court’s ruling rejected that distinction and made clear that Hawaiʻi’s environmental impact statement laws apply to all aquarium collection, regardless of the extraction equipment utilized.

Kaʻiwakīloumoku Pacific Indigenous Institute Unveils New Talk Show

Following the launch of its new website resource kaiwakiloumoku.ksbe.edu in September 2000, Kamehameha Schools’ Kaʻiwakīloumoku Pacific Indigenous Institute unveiled Pacific Conversations, a monthly video series and talk show hosted on the website that features diverse contemporary voices from Hawaiʻi and the Pacific.

The November 25 episode of Pacific Conversations gathered the 1985 crew of the Hōkūleʻa for a “Hawaiian Tribe Reunion.” The episode, entitled Ngāti Ruawāhia: Hawaiian Tribe of Te Tai Tokerau, Aotearoa Celebrates 35 Years, features members of the crew who sailed in 1985 from Rarotonga (Cook Islands) to Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Nainoa Thompson (navigator), Shorty Bertelmann (captain), Bruce Blankenfeld, Kālepa Baybayan, Billy Richards, Harry Ho, and Māori crew member Stanley Conrad (Te Aupōuri), share inspiring stories about the epic voyage and historic landfall that ignited the contemporary Māori waka (canoe) movement and gave birth to the Hawaiian tribe, Ngāti Ruawāhia, 6th Tribe of Te Tai Tokerau.

Ngāti Ruawāhia Part Two aired on December 2 and featured the late Sir Hector Hekenukumai Busby – Hawaiʻi’s Legacy in Aotearoa. The program explored the life and work of Busby, a beloved Māori elder. Inspired by Hōkūleʻa’s arrival in Waitangi, Busby, a mentor to Thompson, spent his life building connections in the Pacific and waka, revitalizing Māori wayfinding in the process.

“It is such an honor to be part of these historic discussions,” said Lāiana Kanoa-Wong, a KS cultural specialist and co-host of “Pacific Conversations.” “It’s the impact of these discussions and others like it that introduce voices of the past and present that are helping to shape our future.”

DTL’s Actions of Aloha Cards Raise $10,000 for ʻIolani Palace

Photo: Kim-Hee Wong presents a $10,000 donation
Kim-Hee Wong (left) of DTL presents a $10,000 donation raised through the Actions of Aloha cars to Paula Akana, Executive Director of The Friends of ‘Iolani Palace. – Photo: Courtesy of DTL

Last year, DTL (a Hawaiian strategy studio that helps businesses navigate change) launched an Actions of Aloha initiative as a reminder that aloha knows no bounds. What began as an idea on social media in response to COVID-19, evolved into a deck of cards with 50 different acts of compassion and kindness to show aloha to oneself, one’s family, or one’s community.

Since the release of the inaugural Actions of Aloha cards, DTL committed to donating 100% of the profits generated from the sale of the cards to The Friends of ʻIolani Palace. In less than four months, Actions of Aloha was able to donate $10,000 to help support Hawaiʻi’s royal residence.

“We are incredibly humbled and amazed by the generosity of Actions of Aloha and the community to support our mission to protect, preserve, and perpetuate an important piece of Hawaiʻi’s history,” said Paula Akana, executive director of The Friends of ʻIolani Palace. “We want to mahalo each person who purchased this unique set of cards. They embody the aloha spirit that our monarchs demonstrated as they led their kingdom and their people.”

Actions of Aloha recently partnered with Bishop Museum and Waimea Valley to create new decks of cards to benefit those organizations.

To purchase a deck of cards visit www.actionsofaloha.com.

Tiana Kealoha of Maui Named Miss Hawaiʻi for America

Photo: Tiana Kealoha
Tiana Kealoha – Photo: Courtesy

On December 11, Miss Maui Tiana Kealoha, 28, was named Miss Hawaiʻi for America at Ward Stage in Honolulu.

Kealoha, who studied kinesiology at Golden West College, is currently a model and a member of the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard. She will now advance to the Miss For America pageant, which is part of the Mrs. America pageant. That competition will be held March 19-27 at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino.

Kealoha is the daughter of Thomas Kealoha of Maui and Beverly Kealoha of California. Her platform is “Mālama Honua” with a focus on protecting sea life from the impacts of plastics and other ʻopala.