(BIVN) – A Hawaiʻi State Senate committee spent hours on Thursday, discussing the nomination of William Ailā to be the chairperson of the Hawaiian Homes Commission and director of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, and Hawaiian beneficiaries from East Hawaiʻi made their voices heard.
Appearing in person at the Senate Hawaiian Affairs Committee hearing on Oʻahu, and also through written testimony, various individuals and homestead associations from Keaukaha, Panaʻewa, and Makuʻu opposed Ailā, who is Governor David Ige’s choice for the seat.
“The DHHL Chair does not serve the Governor, the Chair serves the DHHL Land Trust and DHHL beneficiaries. Period!!!” wrote Maile Luʻuwai, the President of the Keaukaha Panaʻewa Farmers Association. “As interim Chair, Bill Aila has primarily served the interests of Governor Ige and his administration, not DHHL beneficiaries. As Deputy Director and over the past year, Bill has not worked with our communities. Zero collaboration, minimal communication.”
Keaukaha-area leader Pat Kahawaiolaʻa, who says “you cannot serve two masters” when it comes to Hawaiian Home Lands, traveled to Honolulu to speak against the nomination in person. So did Iokepa Kaeo, who often delivers scathing public testimonies at Hawaiian Homes Commission meetings.
There was also testimony in support of the Ailā nomination, mainly from those outside of East Hawaiʻi and in other branches of government.
The committee said it will return later this month with a decision on whether or not to recommend Ailā to lead the department.