OHA chief calls for unity
• Photo gallery: Office of Hawaiian Affairs
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer
Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chairwoman Haunani Apoliona is again calling on Native Hawaiians and the agencies that serve them to rally behind OHA as it reorganizes its governance plan and continues lobbying for the Akaka bill.
"These times call for Hawaiian leaders to move with resolve, focus and discipline," Apoliona told a crowd of about 300 at the annual State of OHA address yesterday at St. Andrew's Cathedral. "We at OHA call for an expanded unified effort by all the ali'i trusts, Hawaiian public trusts and Hawaiian-serving institutions and agencies.
"We must, collectively, demonstrate the effort to work together to move the Hawaiian community forward."
Little new developments came out of Apoliona's speech, her seventh consecutive annual address. She said OHA's revamped governance structure is designed to be more effective and responsive to the needs of its beneficiaries, with the goal of "managing for results" rather than "management by objectives."
A new chief operating officer has been hired, along with business directors in charge of resource management, research, public communications and advocacy.
OHA officials are hopeful that the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, also known as the Akaka bill, will be approved by Congress and signed by President Obama in early 2010. The measure creates a process that could lead to establishment of a federally recognized Native Hawaiian governing entity.
"When enacted, it will be up to all Native Hawaiians ... to ensure ... it is one that includes all Native Hawaiians" and produces a result that's beneficial to the condition of Hawai'i, Apoliona said.
Apoliona said the recently announced meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders Meeting in Honolulu in 2011 will provide a chance for OHA and Native Hawaiians to tell their story.
"When APEC leaders are here, we can plant Hawai'i seeds of ideas, and that spirit nurtured in Hawai'i can blossom in and impact far-reaching corners of the world," Apoliona said.
The theme of Apoliona's speech was Ua ao ka po, ua eo ka po i ke ao, translated as " 'Tis the dawning, darkness is overcome by daylight."
Apoliona pointed out that the first decade of the 2000s has been marked by a series of lawsuits that threatened funding and laws allowing for Hawaiians-only programs such as those administered by OHA. Today, she said, only the Day v. Apoliona case is unresolved.