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OHA Settlement Good News for All Islands

May 3, 2012
The Maui Weekly

Last month, the State of Hawai'i settled a debt that will have a lasting positive impact on Native Hawaiians throughout the islands. After nearly three decades of working together toward an agreement with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), I had the great pleasure of signing into law a measure that settles OHA's unresolved claims to income and proceeds from ceded lands.

Senate Bill 2783 conveys contiguous and adjacent parcels at Kaka'ako Makai on O'ahu, valued at $200 million, to resolve this dispute. The state and OHA agree that this settlement amount represents a reasonable compromise of the disputed claims. In exchange for the land, OHA will release, waive and discharge any and all claims to ceded lands receipts under Article XII, Sections 4 and 6 of the State Constitution, from 1978 to July 1 this year.

Settling this longstanding issue was a top priority for my administration. Likewise, the presence of Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, OHA Board of Trustees Chairwoman Colette Machado and her fellow trustees, members of the state Legislature and Native Hawaiian Caucus, and many other leaders and community representatives demonstrated that this priority was shared by many. Indeed, this agreement, now law, took a lot of hard work and collaboration. I greatly appreciate all those who took the time to make this right and for ensuring that all sides were heard.

Article Photos

Government That Works
Governor Neil Abercrombie

But what does this mean for the island of Maui? After all, these are O'ahu land parcels that are being conveyed to OHA.

Apart from settling the longstanding debt, the bill represents a new day for OHA and its programs, available to Native Hawaiians across the state. The value of these assets and their potential future revenue will greatly enhance OHA's ability to serve kanaka ma'oli. Through various community grants and its Malama Loan, Hua Kanu Business Loan and Consumer Micro-Loan programs, OHA creates opportunity for Native Hawaiians to pursue their own goals and dreams, whether those are starting businesses, going to college, or preserving the native language, traditions and culture of Hawai'i.

On Maui, OHA also supports the Boys and Girls Club at Paukukalo Clubhouse, which serves the Hawaiian Homes community in the area. The clubhouse's Power Hour homework assistance program helps develop good study habits for younger students and works with middle school youth as they prepare to transition to high school. The Boys and Girls Club of Maui, with OHA's support, is working to make sure all youth in Maui County have access to a safe place with quality youth development program.

In January, I had the honor of appointing Maui's own Carmen "Hulu" Lindsey as an interim OHA trustee until a special election can be held this November. I have no doubt that she, Chair Machado and other trustees will work diligently to expand these opportunities for Hawaiians.

It is often said that the people of Hawai'i are what truly make our state so remarkable. We must never forget the origins of our concepts of aloha, kokua and 'ohana--so often used and borrowed, but nonetheless treasured by our state community as core values deeply rooted in Hawaiian heritage. Through this agreement, it is my hope that we are embodying all three.

 
 

 

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