|||Court OKs challenge to taxpayer funding of OHA|
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs was established by the Constitutional Convention of 1978 as part of what was known as the Native Hawaiian Legislative Package.
OHA's purpose was to become the principal vehicle for the state to meet its trust responsibilities to Native Hawaiians, defined as those with at least 50 percent Hawaiian blood, and Hawaiians, which is further defined as descendants of the aboriginal peoples inhabiting the Hawaiian Islands in 1778, the year British Capt. James Cook arrived here.
Much of OHA's $28.5 million in annual operating revenues comes from its share of what's known as the public lands trust. When Hawai'i became a state in 1959, a condition of statehood was that 1.8 million acres formerly ceded to the federal government be returned to the state with the stipulation that these lands benefit two beneficiary classes — Native Hawaiians and the public.
How much of the revenue from these lands that OHA and Native Hawaiians should receive has been a source of debate and litigation for years.
A second major source of revenues is dividend and interest income that is derived from OHA's $365 million in assets.
Expenditures go largely to nonprofit agencies that provide educational, legal, health, vocational and other services to the Native Hawaiian community. Monies also go to loan programs to help Hawaiians start businesses and toward advocacy of protection of natural and cultural resources.