Editor’s note:For Hawaii’s Aug. 9 primary, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.
The following came from Keali’i Makekau, one of 16 candidates for three at-large seats on the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees. The six who win the most primary votes advance to the general election.
Education: Saint Louis High School, Kapiolani Community College
Community organizations: Halau Mele, Oder of Kamehameha
1. What are you running for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs?
Simply put, change! For over a decade now those with narrowed mindset have run OHA, particularly the process of what a Hawaiian nation should look like and about what they feel is the future for all the Hawaiian people. This process has divided, confused, and misled the people of Hawaii, all at a great resource and financial cost to the trust, that could have otherwise yielded far greater results all around. I believe I can help to end the bleeding of the trust and end the dictatorship style of leadership via collaborations with all stakeholders. Through transparency, accountability, a common-sense aloha work ethic and review of the Board Of Trustees policy and bylaws, I believe OHA can be more then just a stage agency; it can be a partnership in which the Hawaiian people honor the past, unite the present and empower the future.
2. What is your view regarding OHA’s efforts to build a Hawaiian nation?
First and foremost OHA is supporting the creation of a domestic dependent nation “tribe” like Indians and Alaskan natives and that is totally inappropriate and misleading, let alone false to our history and political status as an independent sovereign nation albeit in exile. The quest for only federal recognition since 2000 has been a financial nightmare and has raised both constitutional and international law concerns, which has divided the Hawaiian community further as to whom is a Hawaiian and what is the Hawaiian nation. This process is intended to mislead, confuse and usurp the inherent rights of the Hawaiian people to their inherent sovereignty as the de jure body politic the Kingdom of Hawai’i, via scare tactics, misinformation and false promises. It also serves as a golden parachute opportunity to then seek OHA’s dissolving, thus exonerating certain longstanding trustees from any possible prosecution over any ethics violations and all financial malfeasance.
3. What is your view on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s proposed rule making on a government-to-government relationship?
The DOI authority is invalid and lacking jurisdiction in this matter. Their real intent is to gather date via consent from the Hawaiian people to proceed with a reorganizing of a Hawaiian governing entity via a government-to-government relationship with the U.S.A. President Cleveland’s message to Congress to restore the Hawaiian monarchy and end the hostility between Hawai’i and the U.S. was and is reaffirmed by the apology law PL103-150 by President Clinton in which reconciliation efforts between the two high contracting parties should commence. Their presence is another attempt to usurp the people’s right to self-determination via self-government.
4. OHA has focused on developing land holdings in order to raise revenue to help beneficiaries. Is this an appropriate avenue for OHA to pursue?
It is questionable given the fact that this OHA itself has little if any experience in managing land holdings. Thus the brave undertaking of real estate planning, development and oversight was launched in 2014 with the creation of a committee of land and property. Two main properties are in the spotlight and potentially offer significant returns. First is Kakaako Makai and the second is geothermal energy in the puna area on the Big Island. Kakaako is a work in progress but can, with the right management and leadership with a bold vision plan, generate significant returns. Geothermal on the Big Island is far too risky at this point to pursue. Only after free informed meetings and consent form the people living and residing in that ahupua’a can such an endeavor take place. The renewable energy is tremendous but the aftermath in case of failure would be unrepairable to the environment. With proper leadership and experienced people running the show, it can be a very appropriate venue.
5. OHA’s stated purpose is to provide “opportunity for a better life and future” for all Native Hawaiians. Is it doing that? And if not, what would you do about that?
Yes! The strategic priorities and results plan outline what OHA has already in place. What’s needed is more funding to these programs to help aid and empower all Hawaiians, but the vast amount of resources has been diverted to the failed nation-building process for over a decade now thus keeping overall opportunities for things like housing, medical assistance and education at a minimum.
6. Is OHA ding enough to protect the environment, improve health of native Hawaiians and perpetuate the culture? What ideas would you bring to OHA?
On the environment issue, yes, but work is slow. Given the Legislature’s and governor’s own agenda it will remain slow. But recent things like the restoration of water to Nā Wai ʻEhā streams in Central Maui provides important validation for OHA’s efforts to ensure mauka to makai flow when possible and protection of Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practices. OHA policies on environmental and health issues need to be highlighted and made clear and free to their objectives.
7. Are you satisfied with the what OHA has negotiated with the state over ceded-land revenues?
Hell no! The ceded land settlement for Kakaako Makai property proved to be an undervalued and mishandled negotiation from the start. Not securing the submerged lands’ water rights and inheriting the landfill contamination has hampered the overall best use and value of the entire site. Fortunately commercial zoning is already in place and with experienced management and remediation work, the potential for a small commercial city offering employment opportunities for businesses both local and mainland can be realized. This showing Kakaako’s fullest potential and yielding income for the trust which funds all of OHA’s programs.
8. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?
The future of OHA remains uncertain, talks about it dissolving and its assets being given to a Native Hawaiian government entity are happening. All I can say is this agency and its resources belong to you the people, therefore I stress the need for all of you to be involved in this election so that you have knowledge and a voice as to what’s going on with your resources. As for myself solely lobbying and promoting the passage of Act 287 in 2013, “the OHA primary election law” was a personal highlight and achievement especially given the current Board of Trustees’ efforts and position of trying to defeat the measure obviously to protect their own interest. That undertaking, however is still not enough, we need things like term limits and clear and updated policies on matters of ethical behavior, attendance and removal/impeachment of trustees who do not uphold the constitution or their oath of office. Its up to you, Hawaiian and native Hawaiian alike, to vote for people who believe in what’s pono less we suffer and come to that which we despise the most. With that I bid you well and a fond aloha.
REPORTING ON HAWAII’S BIGGEST ISSUES
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