What I told OHA's newspaper…
The official newspaper of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs asked 2016 candidates for Trustee to answer three questions. Here are my answers.
1. “What opportunities do you see for OHA and its Board of Trustees to help improve the physical, mental, and spiritual health of our lāhui (Hawaiian people/nation)?”
In its master-plan, OHA has identified great opportunities for advancing native Hawaiians, and I commend OHA for the goals in this document. Unfortunately, the trustees have fallen short of ensuring that these goals are met. According to the State Auditor: “Ineffectual oversight bars OHA from ensuring grants achieve intended results…” Additionally, tens of millions of dollars have been wasted on political agendas such as the push for federal recognition. The solution is to stop wasting trust money on politics and, instead, to spend it on solving homelessness and meeting the real needs of Hawaiians for housing, healthcare, jobs, and education.
OHA does not lack the resources to help the Hawaiian people. Rather, it needs to manage them in an accountable and non-political way. If elected Trustee, I will work hard to reform OHA so that it provides opportunities Hawaiians need.
2. “What is your strategy for achieving nation building?”
I stand with those trustees who oppose the nation-building efforts by OHA that are dividing Hawaiians from non-Hawaiians and Hawaiians from each other. True Hawaiian nationhood has always included all people regardless of race. As the 1840 Hawaiian Constitution states, “Ua hana mai ke Akua i na lahui kanaka a pau i ke koko hookahi, e noho like lakou ma ka honua nei me ke kuikahi, a me ka pomaikai.” -- “God hath made of one koko (blood) all nations of men to dwell on the earth, in unity and blessedness.” If we as OHA`s beneficiaries continue to elect trustees who pursue a separatist, race-based nation, we will exclude our hanai keiki, many of our parents, spouses, and our beloved haole friends from citizenship. If elected Trustee, I will work hard so that OHA stops dividing Hawaii`s people and starts uniting them.
3. “Many of the most pressing issues facing the lāhui—such as climate change, and health and wealth disparities—are a part of global dynamics. How do we use our mana and ancestral values to help solve these contemporary, complex and pressing issues?”
This is a great question because it looks to the future. In my university classes I teach students that Hawaiian wisdom has much to offer a world seeking economic and ecological sustainability. Sadly, the current trustee board has taken actions which interfere with promoting Hawaiian values globally. Recently, OHA withdrew its approval for the Thirty Meter Telescope and then tried to keep the telescope if its sponsors would pay higher rent to OHA! Tragically, this financial greed has contributed to the potential loss of the telescope along with the loss of millions of dollars in scholarships, jobs and economic development for Hawaiians. The ancient Hawaiians were brilliant scientists and saw no conflict between sacred and scientific. That`s why Nainoa Thompson and other Hokule`a navigators studied the stars in the Bishop Museum Planetarium as part of their sacred training. If elected Trustee, I will work hard to ensure that our keiki thrive in a world where Hawaiian values and scientific progress go hand in hand.