From: Colette Machado
Sent: Sunday, May 11, 2014 5:42PM
To: ALL OHA
Subject: Message from Chair Machado
I am writing to our OHA 'ohana to explain the path that I will recommend that the Board of Trustees take with regard to the breach of aloha and respect by Ka Pouhana for the Board of Trustees and most of the OHA staff.
I acknowledge that Ka Pouhana has identified important questions that have been asked by many advocates for Hawai’i's independence throughout the decades since the illegal overthrow of our Queen. The He Mana'o Pono - Statement of Support petition which has (at this time) almost a thousand signatures demonstrates that these are important questions for our broader community, especially our younger generation who are just getting involved in the work that my generation has borne for decades. We stand upon the shoulders of our kupuna who worked tirelessly to stop the annexation of our beloved country, a legacy that they passed on to us through the Ku'e petitions.
The problem is that Ka Pouhana has lost sight of the nature of the U.S. government and the degree to which its executive branches will defend and justify the claim that it has imposed over Hawai'i since 1893. It is Congress that sets policy. The Executive branches of government, especially the State Department can only provide responses that uphold the status quo.
The strongest platform from which to have Ka Pouhana's questions asked and answered is an entity that represents the broad multi-ethnic community of Hawai'i (Hawaiians and non Hawaiians alike). The question about the status of Hawai'i as an independent country affects all of the people who are born and raised in Hawai'i and is separate from Kana'iolowalu. Furthermore,the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is established under the Hawai'i state constitution to be an advocate for Native Hawaiians as an indigenous, native, maoli, aboriginal people. To be effectively strategic on larger issues OHA generally works in conjunction with our Hawaiian legislators and our congressional delegation. This would have been a more effective route to take.
At another strategic level, the steps that Ka Pouhana took disregarded trusted relationships with supporters in Washington D.C. who OHA has worked with side by side to protect Native Hawaiian trusts,programs and entitlements for decades. These are additional persons who have and can assist OHA in addressing such questions in a meaningful way.
Here at home, Ka Pouhana's action by-passed our Hawaiian legislators who have worked diligently, against great odds, to protect our Native Hawaiian trusts, programs, lands and entitlements.They also sponsored and promoted Act 195 for the Kana'iolowalu roll.
With regard to our OHA 'ohana, Ka Pouhana chose to disregard the Trustees, in contravention of established policies that he promised to uphold when he sought to be appointed as the Chief Executive Officer. In his own words, Ka Pouhana asked the Trustees and the staff to "follow the book." He has placed our staff in the untenable position of figuring out how to honor established policies which he, himself had a hand in developing, or showing him the support he has earned over the past few years and at the same time upholding their respect for the Trustees.
As Ka Pouhana, he is expected to work with, not separate from the Trustees. Together,we can be most effective. Ka Pouhana's letter was dated May 5, 2014 and from that day through May 9, 2014, Ka Pouhana was in Washington D.C. with the Trustees discussing policies with federal agencies. Nevertheless, the Trustees did not learn of the letter until May 9, 2014. In my mind, I have the following questions:
First, if these concerns were so important,why did Ka Pouhana fail to discuss them with the OHA trustees, especially while we were all together in Washington D.C.?
Second, what response did Ka Pouhana expect from the State Department, as compared to policy-making bodies such as the U.S. Congress or the United Nations?
Lastly, why did Ka Pouhana delay his concerns about the legalities of Kana'iolowalu until after the roll was closed? How did he envision Kana'iolowalu being affected by these grave questions?
I believe that the action pursued by Ka Pouhana demonstrates a lack of respect for the over 125,000 Native Hawaiians who registered to participate in the process.
Honoring the aloha that our staff and Trustees have for Ka Pouhana, while realizing that the actions taken by him have serious consequences, here is the path that I will recommend to the Trustees, moving forward:
1. The Trustees shall meet in executive session to ho'oponopono with Ka Pouhana.
2. The Trustees will initiate an investigation of the breach in established processes.
3. The Trustees will discuss a strategy with Ka Pouhana for having the questions he raised addressed, without affecting the Kana'iolowalu process and OHA's commitment to facilitating a process to reorganize a Native Hawaiian Governing Entity.
4. The Trustees will take appropriate action after thoughtful and meaningful discussion on this matter.
I ask that all staff remain focused on our work to improve conditions for Native Hawaiians and to fulfill OHA's vision, mission and mandate.
* * * * *
Prepared Comments of Dr. Kamana'opono Crabbe
Office of Hawaiian Affairs Ka Pouhana and CEO Press Conference of May 12, 2014
Aloha mai kakou,
I called this media conference today to offer additional information about my letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, which was sent within my authority under OHA's governing documents and Hawai'i statutory law. As with any leader, I am often called upon to make tough decisions, which are sometimes controversial. I continue to believe my decision to send the letter was in the best interest of OHA and the beneficiaries we serve. I stand behind this decision and accept full responsibility for it.
As Ka Pouhana and CEO of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, I must ensure that the policies and commitments of the OHA Board of Trustees are implemented with thorough due diligence and a minimization of risk to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. I take this responsibility seriously. And that was the chief reason for my inquiry with Secretary Kerry.
As stated in the media release sent out this past Friday, I requested that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry seek a legal opinion of the U.S. Attorney General regarding the status of Hawai'i under international law. I also posed additional questions to clarify how the answer to that primary question impacts current efforts to rebuild a Hawaiian nation.
Answers from the U.S. Attorney General are needed for OHA to effectively facilitate a process of rebuilding a Hawaiian nation. We must start with agreed upon facts (or begin identifying points of disagreement that require clarification). Highly qualified experts have provided their answers to the questions posed. However, it would be irresponsible for OHA to assume that the United States views the situation similarly. The stakes are far too high for OHA to proceed under assumptions.
A second reason for my questions to Secretary Kerry stems from our Hawaiian community. My staff and I have held some 30 community meetings in the past two months regarding our proposed process to rebuild our nation. In that same period we also held two governance summits with key community leaders. At these gatherings, and in other virtual contexts, we heard repeatedly concerns about engaging in a process of rebuilding a nation when-following the research of many legal, historical, and political experts-our nation continues to exist in the context of international law.
Such concerns have led our community to request more time in the nation rebuilding process to have questions-- such as I raised with Secretary Kerry-- fully explored and shared with our people so that they can make well-informed decisions throughout the process.
The Hawaiian community needed to know that I was inquiring about the very matters they sought to bring forward. And this is the reason I felt it was imperative not only that I ask the questions but that the community be aware of the inquiry.
However, recognizing the gravity of the questions posed, I met with Chair Machado before making the letter public. I explained that my questions were a matter of due diligence and risk management to avoid OHA missteps in its nation rebuilding facilitation. I believed I had her consent to proceed with sharing publicly my letter to Secretary Kerry. Unfortunately, it is now apparent that we walked away from that meeting with a misunderstanding and misinformation.
Despite disagreements that will need to be worked out between myself and OHA's trustees, I am certain that the Board and I stand firmly together in our commitment to do all that we appropriately can to reestablish a Hawaiian nation. I look forward to engaging with the trustees in the ho'oponopono, which Chair Machado graciously suggested, so that we can work collectively to Ho'oulu Uihui Aloha, to Rebuild a Beloved Nation.
We must succeed in our efforts for the good of our lahui, our community, and our families for generations to come.