Welina me ke aloha e ku‘u lāhui.
I write to you this month to wish you all a wonderful year to come, and that we all look back on 2017 to reflect on our triumphs as well as our challenges. 2018 is a new beginning for our lāhui, and for OHA. As our projects carry over in to the new calendar year, I promise that we will continue the good work of our fiscal sustainability plan and our internal audit, which has just begun. May your support help us to realize the fruits of our labor.
Our audit is underway, and as I have written before, this internal audit is another tool for us to hold OHA to a high standard of ethics and care of our resources. I want to assure the lähui that this audit will play a unique role in analyzing areas of OHA that haven’t been taken care of in recent past. The transparency of our practices and the use of your trust resources are paramount.
To be sustainable, we must find ways to close the loop of dependency. I am constantly asking myself, how will OHA trust funds and resources create more independent businesses, non-profit organizations, and a more thriving lāhui? As a fiduciary of OHA, I must also ask myself, what is OHA’s role in our lāhui and how can we be most effective? How should OHA fit in to the framework of our people? What I have determined as best is if we prioritize the following: 1. Economic Self-Sufficiency 2. Beneficiary Advocacy and Empowerment 3. Cultural Empowerment.
I, along with other Trustees, value economic development as the number one priority and we should support increased funding and programs to boost our socioeconomic standing. We desperately need to be more competitive in our own home. I hope that as an organization we can be a catalyst for economic development by way of increasing the opportunities for business loans through our Mālama Loan program, and finding more innovative ways to serve the lāhui and your enterprising efforts. I am valuing this as our first priority for it is a necessary foundation for our lāhui.
Beneficiary advocacy and empowerment is critical for our people. I want our people to turn to OHA to help them face the challenges that are ahead. Our advocacy team does great work in researching situations that arise, and they find ways to best help. Having this as a resource for our people means the difference of either receiving millions in federal and state funding or not. They are warriors in the legislature and in the community.
Who but OHA would be best to value our culture at an institutional level? It is up to us to show our support of the arts, science, and philosophies of our ancestors, not only for the sentimental connection, but for the practical reasons, too. Now more than ever we must look to the past to give us the ‘ike we need to solve the problems that lay before us. To grow the native consciousness of our people will lead to more innovation and increase the connection to our past.
This is my vision for OHA, and my understanding of how we can move forward to greatness. We must build a solid economic foundation, stand up for the lāhui, and always ho‘i hou to the teachings of our ancestors. May we all strive for excellence with unity in spirit and thought. Have a blessed new year!′