(BIVN) – Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustees on Thursday voted to appoint Maui Trustee Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey as OHA chair.
Trustees also selected Leinaʻala Ahu Isa as vice chair and voted on its committee leadership during the first board meeting since the November elections.
“Today we celebrate the dawning of a new effort with the common goal to uplift the Office of Hawaiian Affairs,” said Chair Lindsey. “Our commitment is to build trust and cohesion amongst OHA’s Board of Trustees so that we may address past disputes with the State, and within our agency and community so that we can begin to face the many challenges as Hawaiians with a strong and unified house.”
Lindsey served as an OHA trustee since January 2012. She has been a long-time member of the ʻAhahui Kaʻahumanu and an active member of the Central Maui Hawaiian Civic Club. On Hawaiʻi island in July 2019, Lindsey was taken into custody during the kūpuna arrests on the Mauna Kea Access Road.
Lindsey is also an award-winning recording artist.
As Chair of the OHA Board of Trustees, Lindsey said she would priorities the implementing of OHA’s new Strategic Plan, focus on the development of OHA’s 30 acres of land in Kakaʻako Makai, address the health challenges presented by COVID-19 to the Native Hawaiian community, and improve the stewardship and protection of Native Hawaiian land and water resources. The full text of the speech is reproduced below.
Trustee John D. Waiheʻe IV was selected as the chair of the Committee on Resource Management, with Trustee Luana Alapa selected as vice chair.
Trustee Kaleihikina Akaka was made chair of the Committee on Beneficiary and Advocacy, with newly elected Hawaiʻi island trustee Keola Lindsey chosen as the vice chair.
The OHA news release noted that the state Office of Elections has yet to certify the at-large OHA trustee race. Incumbent Trustee Keliʻi Akina’s victory in that election is currently being challenged in the Hawaiʻi State Supreme Court.
From the Chair Lindsey’s speech:
Aloha Colleagues, Beneficiaries and Friends,
Today, we celebrate the dawning of a new effort with the common goal to uplift the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Our commitment is to build trust and cohesion amongst OHA’s Board of Trustees so that we may address past disputes with the State, and within our agency and community so that we can begin to face the many challenges as Hawaiians with a strong and unified house.
In September 2020, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs adopted a new Strategic Plan that identifies the agencies priorities and the framework for their implementation to the year 2035. This strategic initiative included a renewed focus on and commitment to Educational Pathways, Health Outcomes, Quality Housing and Economic Stability.
It also expanded OHA’s Focus to two new ‘Endowment Strategies’ for 1) the management of our peoples’ financial and commercial resources and 2) better stewardship of our land based and natural resources.
As part of our plan to promote Economic Stability, our Board will be focusing on OHA land assets beginning with the development of our lands in Kakaʻako Makai. Our past Boards have developed different approaches to the Master Planning of Kakaʻako, this Board will have the opportunity to analyze and advance the development’s financial feasibility and market analysis as the best steps forward in optimizing highest and best use of these prime lands.
Given our State’s present economy, which has been adversely impacted by the unprecedented COVID-19 global pandemic, the development of our lands will need to be explored with strategic deliberation.
In pursuing these goals, OHA is committed to two things: 1) working with our community to preserve and perpetuate our language, culture, traditions, and identity and 2) increasing community stewardship of Hawaiʻi’s natural and cultural resources and the restoration of Native Hawaiian cultural sites, landscapes, kulāiwi and traditional food systems.
We will work hard to protect our iwi kūpuna, whether at Kumukahi, Kahoma, Makena, the Kahului Sand Dunes and even Kawaihaʻo.
Today, we are facing many difficult issues. When the OHA Health priorities were identified, no one knew we would be dealing with COVID in the coming year. As this challenge increases, OHA is committed to working with our communities, especially those on neighbor islands, to provide support to Hawaiians in need of food and medical support. We are capable of addressing today’s realities, but will need the support of our people, our communities on neighbor islands and the State, Legislature, County and Federal Governments.
Better stewardship and protection of our Hawaiian land resources is now a primary goal of OHA. Fulfilling our fiduciary responsibilities requires that OHA Trustees protect traditional and customary rights, increase stewardship of trust lands and continue to defend our lands and waters (Nā Wai ʻEha, Hanalei River Valley), rivers and Ocean resources for future generations. OHA will need to continue in supporting our beneficiaries in all areas of stewardship. The Protect Mauna A Wakea advocacy is a prime example for OHA to shephard a process to build consensus in the stewardship management and land uses of our sacred ceded land resources such as Mauna Kea. This is the meaning of “auamo kuleana” for the ʻĀina and our people.
Yes, disagreements will arise, they always do, especially where passion and high emotions is the impetus for core and critical issues. But, if we are committed to working with others to resolve these challenges without delay, blame and costly litigation we will persevere.
Queen Liliʻuokalani stated: “Never cease to act for fear you may fail.”
Today, we mark the dawning of a new era at OHA, our tasks are great, but our capacity, as a people and ʻOhana, is greater still. Mahalo Ke Akua for Calling us to this task, we pray for strength and Aloha so that we will persevere together.