Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 8 Primary Election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities will be if elected.
The following came from Cyd Hoffeld, candidate for Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees Hawaii island resident. Other candidates include Kauilani Almeida, Noelani Cashman-Aiu, Laura Desoto-McCollough, Louis Hao, Pua Ishibashi, Lei Kihoi, Keola Lindsey, Lanakila Mangauil, Louis Pau and Kalaniakea Wilson.
1. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing Native Hawaiians? What will you do about it?
The pressing issues include low educational attainment, poor health and wellness, housing insecurity, incarceration and more. In observing these inequities one might ask, “What caused and continues to cause Native Hawaiians such devastating disparities in their own homelands?”
When looking at Hawaii’s history from past to present facts shed light on some root causes and attempts at reparation. In 1778, members of Cookeʻs expedition described natives of the islands as hardy, robust, and capable of great physical activities. Within 150 years, Native Hawaiians were dying from influenza, measles, smallpox, syphilis, and mumps. The native population declined from an estimated 800,000 to 50,000.
Many other cultural and historic traumas impacted Native Hawaiians and that was before the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom led by American and non-Hawaiian Kingdom nationals. After 127 years of U.S. control over our island nation, Hawaiians went from thriving to barely surviving.
Fortunately, in 1959, as a condition of statehood under the Admissions Act, a portion of “ceded lands” were held in trust with its revenue to be used for the “betterment of the condition of Native Hawaiians.” As OHA trustee, I will honor requirements to manage and administer income and proceeds towards that purpose.
2. What would you do to change how OHA is run?
With a growing number of new trustees, this next generation will have a chance to improve the culture of OHA. Winning the trust of our beneficiaries, lawmakers and the public will take empirical evidence of transparency and accountability. The first step toward this goal is to conduct a complete and independent audit. Uncovering past mismanagement of funds, excessive waste and fraudulent practices will move OHA forward with more accountability.
My intention is to use my own positive attributes of honesty, integrity, respect, loyalty, hard work and a commitment to listen and perform my due diligence before taking action. I will work in partnership with fellow trustees to fulfill our requirement to manage and administer income and proceeds for the “betterment of the conditions of Native Hawaiians.”
I will strongly support that the state fulfill its obligation to honor the 20% public land trust revenues lawmakers are mandated to pay OHA in accordance with Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) Section 10-13.5. I further support the requirement for OHA to receive “[t]wenty percent of all funds from public land trust[.]” In this way, we can ensure that both the state and OHA fulfill their obligations to provide beneficiaries with vital resources.
3. What would you do to bridge the gaps within the Native Hawaiian community over issues like construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope or development of energy projects?
The way to bring our Native Hawaiian community together over issues like construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope, development of energy projects or other projects that affect the use of our lands and natural resources is to invite Native Hawaiians to the table during the initial stages of planning and incorporate their input.
Increasing placement of Native Hawaiians in positions of decision making in federal, state and county offices are the best ways to ensure that harmony and collaboration are part of every step of the process. Transparency and accountability throughout the planning and implementation of these projects are essential in bridging any gaps between our Native Hawaiian community and development of all projects where public land trusts are involved and iwi kupuna are found.
4. Do you support the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea? Why or why not?
As an OHA trustee my “opinion” regarding whether TMT should be built on Mauna Kea or not is irrelevant. My observation of events before 2014 to this present day is that a large number of Native Hawaiians and non-native supporters not only in Hawaii but across the U.S. continent and around the world have voiced their opposition of having another telescope built on what is believed by many to be sacred land.
Other issues may be involved, as well, but the bigger issue seems to be about a breach of trust and broken promises by the university and the state to properly steward the land that has been entrusted to them for 50 years. The conflict on Mauna Kea in particular has pitted families against families, neighbors against neighbors, friends against friends, consumers against businesses, and police officers against peaceful kiai. The negative energy alone should give pause to the people insisting to do something that is obviously unwanted by so many. Pushing one’s agenda with such force and tenacity in the “Land of Aloha” is disheartening to say the least.
If Aunty Pilahi Paki and Uncle Pono Shim’s “Aloha Response” is to be perpetuated, aloha must be embraced by all.
5. Do you support OHA providing financial aid to Mauna Kea protesters?
I support the OHA trustees in following their requirement to manage and administer income and proceeds from public trust land revenues for the “betterment of the conditions of Native Hawaiians” in ethical and transparent ways. The trustees have guidelines to follow when determining how to use those funds. And as long as they are following their guidelines and adhering to policies and procedures that allow them the discretion to allocate financial aid that serves their beneficiaries, those monies were used properly.
Due to widespread public dissatisfaction and pinpoint scrutiny of the goings-on at OHA, I’m sure they considered the gravity of their decision to pay for items that we would consider to be essential in keeping with public health protocols and safety measures for those served. As we look at the needs of our beneficiaries and determine how to best meet their needs, I’m sure it both was and was not a difficult choice for OHA to make.
6. What role should the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands play in reducing homelessness?
The role of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is to “manage the Hawaiian Home Lands trust effectively and to develop and deliver lands to Native Hawaiians.” Their mission and mandate seem to be clear. Yet, 28,000 beneficiaries who qualify to be recipients of those trust lands have been on a waiting list for generations. Many die while land goes undelivered. DHHL has failed miserably to do their job which continues to perpetuate housing insecurity for families and individuals who would greatly benefit from the opportunity.
Access to safe and affordable housing is essential to many facets of a thriving society. It affects a child’s education and their ability to achieve consistency and continuity in their lives. It affects the health and well-being of every member of a family privileged to have a place they can call home because it can minimize stress that comes with life’s uncertainties including the threat of eviction due to changing circumstances.
As OHA Hawaii resident trustee, I will work with our local partners like HOPE Services, Catholic Charities, Habitat for Humanity, DHHL and other institutions to come up with innovative ways to use available resources to get our beneficiaries land and housing.
7. Why do you think Hawaiians are disproportionately represented in our prisons and jails? What can be done about it?
Cultural and historical traumas have followed our people for generations. Kaiser Permanente did one of the largest investigations on childhood abuse and neglect and household challenges that corresponded to later-life health and well-being called Adverse Childhood Experiences.
This two-year study enlisted over 17,000 individuals and the results found a strong connection between multiple risk factors that lead to poor health outcomes later in life. Some indicators were psychological, physical or sexual abuse; violence against mother; or living with household members who were substance abusers, mentally ill or suicidal or even imprisoned.
Persons who had experienced four or more of these experiences during childhood were four to 12 times more at risk for alcoholism, drug abuse, depression and suicide attempt; were two to four times more likely to engage in smoking, have poor perceived health, and participate in increased sexual activity leading to sexually transmitted diseases. These social determinants increase incarceration rates.
I have been the Health & Housing chairwoman for the Going Home Hawaii Consortium for over five years. Going Home Hawaii has been leading efforts to provide innovative and culturally responsive re-entry and reintegration services to former offenders, their families and communities. I will continue this important work as OHA Hawaii resident trustee.
8. What are your views regarding Hawaiian self-determination?
On Nov. 28, 1843, at the Court of London, the British and French governments entered into a formal agreement recognizing Hawaii’s independence and because of that the Hawaiian Kingdom entered into treaties and conventions with numerous countries, including the United States of America.
On Jan. 16, 1893, U.S. diplomatic and military personnel conspired with a small group of individuals to overthrow the government of the Hawaiian Kingdom and prepared for the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands to the U.S. under a treaty submitted to the U.S. by the usurpers on Feb. 15, 1893. This attempt failed and other attempts also failed until the Hawaiian Islands were annexed by a U.S. congressional joint resolution on July 7, 1898.
In Leviticus the Lord tells Moses that anyone who sins by “deceiving his neighbor in a matter of deposit or security, or though robbery” should “restore what he took … in full and shall add a fifth to it, and give it to him to whom it belongs on the day he realizes his guilt.”
9. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?
I always believed that: “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
Then Pono Shim told me, “It doesn’t if the boat is sunk.”
Now my revised thought is, “If the boat is sunk,” as the next Hawaii resident trustee, “I will roll up my sleeves, jump into the water with my bucket and whatever resources are needed, and I will help raise each boat until the tide lifts us all.”
With ke Akuaʻs help, it can and will be done!