A Critical Time for OHA
by Leon Siu, Ke Aupuni Update, Oct 2020
Back in 1978, I was part of a small Hawaiian “think tank” hui that used to meet on a boat docked at the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor. The group consisted of Aunty Virginia and Uncle Sam Kepanu (who owned the boat), Aunty Pilahi Paki, Kawaipuna Prejean, Liko Martin, Hank Fergestrom and me. We would discuss myriad Hawaiian issues.
One of the most prominent issues was a constitutional amendment that the 1978 State of Hawaii Constitutional Convention was about to pass to create an “Office of Hawaiian Affairs.”
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs was supposed to be an autonomous governing body. Our question was: Why would the controlling powers (those running the fake State of Hawaii) allow Hawaiians to govern themselves and have access to their assets (the Crown Lands)?... And why would the Fake State risk losing control of Hawaiians and Hawaiian assets? The answer is simple. They expected OHA to fail. They also saw OHA as an opportunity to deflect the growing suspicion that the State of Hawaii is a fraud. Throw the Hawaiians a bone and let them fight over it…
After a couple weeks of discussion our little hui deduced: It would be a wonderful thing if we Hawaiians could make OHA work; but it could be a disaster for Hawaiians and our movement if OHA was to fail. We concluded, the controlling powers of the Fake State had set a trap... They expected Hawaiians to scrap amongst ourselves and make a big mess. The Fake State would then swoop in and “rescue” the Hawaiians from the mess, dissolve the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and take full, permanent control over Hawaiian affairs… and assets.
Over the years, the State of Hawaii has done a lot to undermine and hamstring OHA. But to their credit, most OHA trustees have done a noble and admirable job in carrying out their kuleana. But in the past decade or so, certain OHA trustees have seriously compromised the integrity of OHA. We Hawaiians, the beneficiaries of the trust, have been bitterly complaining of the wrong-doing, but those in power just disregarded or dismissed our complaints…
Then in 2016, Keli’i Akina was elected as a trustee, running on the platform of holding OHA fiscally and operationally accountable to its beneficiaries. In his first year, despite heavy resistance from the “old guard trustees” Akina and a good number of beneficiaries who had been complaining for years, were able to pressure the “old guard trustees” to agree to a forensic audit. Even then, “old guard trustees” obstructed, delayed and defiantly refused to comply. The state legislature till today is withholding state funds to OHA to force cooperation with the audit… Finally, the forensic audit was conducted.
As we expected, the audit uncovered hundreds of illegal expenditures, and other highly suspicious irregularities. And still today, the “old guard trustees” are blocking auditors’ access to the books of the illegal Limited Liability Corporations OHA formed to carry out deals certain trustees made with cronies. These are trustees that should be looking out for the best interest of the beneficiaries, not using their positions to cover up their crimes.
Unless the corrupt “old guard trustees” (or their clones now running for OHA seats) are replaced with honest people willing to clean up the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the state and federal government will step in and shut it down, saying: “See? We gave you Hawaiians chance, and you blew it.”
Choose wisely when you vote for OHA trustees. We want the reformers who will bring back transparency, not the ones that will cover up and bleed OHA dry.
Ke Aupuni O Hawaii, the Hawaiian Kingdom is not involved in State of Hawaii or U.S. elections. BUT, The Koani Foundation and Free Hawaii TV is supporting: Keli’i Akina for the At-Large seat; Lanakila Mangauil for the Big Island seat; and Luana Alapa for the Molokai seat.