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Homestead leaders elect new governing council chair

News Release from SCHHA, February 19, 2023

The Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations (SCHHA) elected KipuKai Kualii, a waitlist native Hawaiian from Kauaʻi to chair the SCHHA Governing Council.  The council expressed aloha and gratitude to its departing chairperson of the last eight years, Robin Puanani Danner.

Last month Danner stepped down from homestead community leadership to accept a position in the Office of Governor Josh Green as a Senior Policy Advisor. SCHHA Vice Chair, Sybil Lopez, from Molokaʻi convened the remaining SCHHA leaders to fill the vacancy to maintain continuity and the unified work of homestead associations statewide. 

“Robin joined the SCHHA in 1997 when her mom asked her to return home to Hawaii,” said Tasha Kama, one of the founders of SCHHA in 1987 and a Maui County Council member in a news release.  “After she was pau founding and leading the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA), she handed that work off to others, to work full time on Hawaiian home land issues, including affordable housing, and advancing the capacity of our homestead associations statewide.  She is one hard-working wahine, Governor Green is lucky to have her.”

Danner, originally from Niumalu on Kauaʻi, stepped down, as only the third chairperson in the SCHHA 37-year history, and the first woman to lead the organization, a coalition of homestead associations.  Former chairs include Kamaki Kanahele from Nanakuli and Tony Sang from Waimanalo. 

Danner has also stepped down from the Native CDFI Network board where she served as the national Policy Chair serving the interests of American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians in the financial services and affordable housing fields.

“We aloha Robin,” said Richard Soo, a fire department retiree from the Kalawahine Homestead on Oʻahu, and a SCHHA Council member.  “She not only knows our land trust, but she also knows our people, she knows how to translate challenges into solutions for everyday families.  We are going to miss her day-to-day leadership in homesteads and know that Kipukai will lead SCHHA with the same commitment.”

Kualii is a well-known homestead leader and public servant, having served for several years on the Kauaʻi County Council and employed by the YWCA.  He is the president of his homestead organization, the Anahola Hawaiian Homestead Association (AHHA) located in northeast Kauaʻi.

“Robin has dedicated her career to working families whether in finance, in building homes or creating jobs – she is one of the foremost experts on our Hawaiian Home Land Trust and the federal relationship with indigenous peoples,” said Kualii after the SCHHA Saturday morning meeting.  “All of us across homesteads have real aloha for her, anyone who knows her work, knows she empowers communities to solve challenges through partnerships and collaboration.  I’m humbled to step forward to chair the SCHHA, as Robin takes on this new kuleana in the Office of the Governor.”




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