Being “The Friendly Isle” and “The Aloha State” for our People

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Luana Alapa: Trustee Molokaʻi and Lanaʻi

Our ancient tradition is oral history. As I learn by seeing and by hearing, I become the haumana and those who are dedicated to advancing a range of native Hawaiian concerns become kumu. It is my kuleana to make decisions, sometimes tough ones. But when I do, they will be based on “how” it will benefit our people. We cannot allow ourselves to get stuck in the sand unable to progress. We can imua through positivity and unity around common goals!

Your Trustee on the Move

Photo: Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, Kai Kahele, Luana Alapa, Lynn DeCoite, Stacie Crivello and Walter Ritte
(L-R) Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, Kai Kahele, Luana Alapa, Lynn DeCoite, Stacie Crivello and Walter Ritte. – Photo: Courtesy

Some may feel it was a historic moment on Molokaʻi when Sen. Lynn DeCoite, Councilwoman Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, Stacie Crivello (liaison to Mayor Victorino), and Congressman Kai Kahele came together to listen to island concerns at a meeting hosted by your Trustee. My kuleana and hope is to build partnerships among officials and constituents with OHA where we can; and to support advocacy efforts where partnership is not possible. We are all of like mind in supporting self-sustainability on Molokaʻi and across the islands. This can be done in agriculture, natural resources, fishing and protection of water assets. Building unity and bridges is critical to achieve these near- and long-term goals.

Efforts that Unite Across the Islands

Photo: Keawanui fishpond
At 73-acres Keawanui fishpond is the largest, and possibly the oldest, fishpond on Moloka’i. – Photo: Courtesy

Your Trustee visited the Moloka’i fish pond, Keawanui, and saw first-hand the effort to achieve self-sustaining fishing. Walter Ritte educated me about restoration of the fishpond walls, among many things, and spoke about the dedicated volunteers participating in the task.

Restoration of ancient fish ponds is not unique only to Molokaʻi. Our ancestors had self-sustaining food systems on each island. My plan is to visit the other islands not only to learn about endeavors to restore fish ponds but also to foster sharing of knowledge and to identify any role OHA may be able to play.

Another issue that is a historic struggle is the battle to win back kuleana lands. No island is exempt from this endeavor. ʻOhana on Molokaʻi have been at it for decades! I am exploring what we can do to support these efforts as OHA does have a history of lending resources to protect kuleana land claims.

Seeking Your Manaʻo

Photo: Luana Alapa
Trustee Alapa during her first Moloka’i Community Meeting – Photo: Alice Malepeai Silbanuz

I have received many comments about our grant and loan programs. Please write to me at alapainfo@oha.org with your manaʻo on this. Have you tried to apply and gotten discouraged? Why did that happen? We need to get OHA funds not only to those experienced at acquiring funds, but also to our people who may not have the same skill to navigate through the process. Let me know your thoughts.