State officials aren’t talking, but the DHHL deputy director who was let go in the latest leadership struggle tells Civil Beat she got canned. What’s up over there?


The turnover in leadership at the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands continues, with the latest departure being its deputy director, Michelle Kauhane.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed Kauhane in June, 2011 as a replacement for Bobby Hall, who retired. 

Neither the governor’s office or DHHL will comment on the departure. 

Darrell Young, a spokesman for DHHL, said that Kauhane ”was” deputy director, but would not say when her last day was or why she left, stressing that it was a confidential personnel matter. 

Same with Abercrombie’s office. 

“All we can say is that this is a confidential personnel matter, so it would be inappropriate to comment at this time,” said Louise Kim-McCoy, a spokeswoman for the governor. 

However, several sources told Civil Beat that she was fired, or forced out of her position.

UPDATE: In an email to Civil Beat after this post was published, Kauhane said that DHHL’s interim director, Jobie Masagatani, dismissed her from her position: 

It was with a heavy heart that I bid farewell to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands on December 12, 2012.  I was advised by the Interim Director, Jobie Masagatani, that my services are no longer needed as the DHHL will reorganize its leadership structure.  

My entire career has been spent working for and with Hawaiians and taking the DHHL Deputy position was no different.  I have focused my attention while at DHHL on putting homesteaders first.  

There has been heavy turnover among Abercrombie’s Cabinet and staff appointees, including at DHHL. 

In addition to the departures of two deputy directors, Abercrombie’s first appointee as director of DHHL, Alapaki Nahale-a, also left in May. He was replaced by Masagatani, but her leadership has faced challenges. In August, statewide homestead leaders, who represent 28 of 32 Hawaiian communities, voted unanimously to oppose Masagatani’s confirmation by the Senate, which comes up next year.