The recent controversies at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs with trustees suing each other and the firing of CEO Crabbe is deeply embarrassing and troubling to not only Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) but to all the people of Hawaii.

OHA is again proving to be a blistering wart on the foot of the Native Hawaiian people by perpetuating negative stereotypes many in the community have of it.

OHA must reform itself from head to toe especially given the new political developments in Washington, D.C., under Trump.

OHA Office of Hawaiian Affairs. 4 jan 2017
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs needs to quit fighting among itself and start working for the people it serves. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

It must become more relevant to Native Hawaiians rather than a source of shame.  Instead of sponsoring political division within the community, it should sponsor more banking, IT, entrepreneur and vocational programs to help Native Hawaiians become an economic and technological powerhouse. While it is true that OHA already has existing business and housing loan programs, a majority of Native Hawaiians do not know about their existence — unless they have a backer, family member or friend working at OHA.

OHA should also consider engaging in more substantial projects similar to the Maori such as buying up lands, forging partnerships with the private sector to create affordable housing and investing back to the Native Hawaiian community.

OHA’s newsletter also needs to be  revamped and become more substantial in its content rather than having glossy pictures of the Trustees and taro patches. Perhaps they should open up a letters to the editor and also constituents to direct discuss issues with the Trustees.

OHA has focused so much of its resources on promoting their version of sovereignty and being a state agency, OHA Trustees should have refrained from taking any sides.

While I agree with letting go of Crabbe, OHA must now abolish the CEO post as it seems to cause an additional level of mismanagement, ineffectiveness, political intrigue and conflict.

The State Ethics Commission also needs to look at all of the recent transactions of the Trustees and the CEO to ensure that funds had been used appropriately especially given the lawsuits.

OHA can do better and it must do better because our culture, our heritage, our land, and our people demand it.

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