Meeting with Kūpuna on Molokaʻi

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Luana Alapa: Trustee Molokaʻi and Lanaʻi

Highly regarded as keepers of traditional knowledge and wisdom, kūpuna set the tone and expectations in Hawaiian communities. Our kūpuna are respected and cherished. So when asked recently to address two Molokaʻi kūpuna groups, I did so gladly.

My purpose in sharing OHA’s kuleana with both the Nā Kūpuna Manaʻe Council and the Molokaʻi Alu Like Kūpuna Program, was to help clarify the difference between various agencies (i.e., OHA and DHHL) as each agency is unrelated with different kuleana. Our kūpuna know the concerns that are a high priority to Molokaʻi and I hope to bring together partnerships to benefit our island by obtaining needed resources. I shared what OHA does, how trust funds are managed and spent, and how the pro-rata funds from the Public Land Trust (PLT) help fund our agency in an effort to clarify how processes work relative to decision-making by our Board of Trustees that impacts our lāhui.

Trustee Alapa was recently asked by two kūpuna groups on Molokaʻi to speak with them about what OHA does (and is doing) in the community, how trust funds are managed, and to clarify the differences between OHA’s kuleana and that of other organizations such as the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. The meetings with members of Nā Kūpuna Manaʻe Council and the Molokaʻi Alu Like Kūpuna Program was a time of sharing and connection. – Courtesy Photos

I provided each attendee a brochure, What OHA Does, and a copy of OHA’s annual financial report, which we reviewed together. OHA’s overall duty is to improve the conditions of Native Hawaiians. This is an ongoing challenge, as we receive less than our 20% share of PLT revenues – just 3.8% ($15 million) – far short of the $78.5 million OHA should receive annually (although last year the legislature adjusted that figure to $21 million). I also clarified that OHA is not a direct service provider – we do not operate schools, provide health care centers, or build houses – as some may think.

The kūpuna were receptive although some wanted to know why OHA isn’t doing more. I explained that $21 million a year is insufficient to meet the needs of our people, so OHA has focused on maximizing its limited funds by focusing on providing grants, loans, legal services and sponsorships. Last year OHA mapped out its Mana i Mauli Ola Strategic Plan to the community. For additional information please visit our website: www.oha.org/strategicplan/.

I enjoyed my time with the kūpuna and vowed to return with news on establishing grant writing workshops so they may learn how to access funds through our Grant Program. I look forward to working with our kūpuna and the community of Molokaʻi. In April, I will be visiting Lānaʻi to address the concerns of beneficiaries there. For questions or in-person meetings contact Pohai Ryan at pohair@oha.org.

Aloha kekahi i kekahi.

Trustee Luana Alapa