OHA to serve as facilitator in Hawaiian nation building

Hawaiian leaders gather for press conference at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Photo by Nelson Gaspar

HONOLULU (March 7, 2014) – In an unprecedented move, a diverse group is rallying around a commitment from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to serve as facilitator as Native Hawaiians determine the next steps in a process that empowers them to participate in building a governing entity.

The announcement came at a press conference attended by an enthusiastic, broad-based group of Hawaiian leaders, who are prepared to help shape the process and determine the outcome of a path in which OHA will remain neutral in as a facilitator and supporter.

“We stand ready to begin a process meant to inspire hope and enable all Native Hawaiians to take up their kuleana to help build a strong nation,” said OHA Ka Pouhana (Chief Executive Officer) Kamana‘opono Crabbe.

The announcement was followed by a decision from the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission to reopen its roll, effective March 17, to allow Hawaiians who have not yet signed up an opportunity to be part of the process.

“This is different from past OHA efforts,” said OHA Trustee Haunani Apoliona, the chairperson of the Ad Hoc Committee on Governance Planning created by the OHA Board of Trustees. “We will remain neutral and ensure that the people can provide meaningful input on the process and that the outcomes reflect the will of the Native Hawaiian people. As a facilitator, OHA is committed to encouraging Native Hawaiians to participate in the process of building a Hawaiian nation.”

The move was applauded by such community activists as Bumpy Kanahele, known as the head of state for the Nation of Hawai‘i and who has been critical of OHA’s efforts in the past.

“I’m so proud of OHA for supporting an effort that moves us forward,” Kanahele said.

He also encouraged Hawaiians to sign up with the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission to be part of the process. “If you haven’t signed up, sign up,” Kanahele said. “And if you are kānalua (doubtful) about signing up, then find out more information or contact me. I can give you the perspective of why I’m involved.”

Kīhei Nahale-a, a Native Hawaiian educator, conveyed optimism about the process. “It’s not about any one person or one thing,” he said. “It’s about how everybody in the community can move forward together, even if it’s just a little bit.”

Walter Ritte, a Native Hawaiian community organizer, also expressed optimism. “The call to come together is a great call and I hope it is a true call,” said Ritte, who attended the press conference. “But only time is going to tell us that.”

Speaking to reporters at the press conference, Crabbe said: “We will come together to create a nation where all Native Hawaiians have an opportunity to thrive. I have every confidence that we will succeed.”

For more information, visit www.oha.org/nationbuilding


Credit: Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Selected quotes and interviews provided courtesy of  'ŌiwiTV