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.
1. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing Native Hawaiians? What will you do about it?
The lack of affordable housing is a critical issue for many Hawaiians. Many of these folks are beneficiaries of OHA and some are Hawaiians who are on the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands waiting list. OHA does have significant funding and should aggressively work to support housing initiatives for Hawaiians.
One of the ways in which OHA can improve this dire situation is to partner with and collaborate with government agencies, nonprofits and other organizations. These state agencies should execute a memorandum of understanding directed at moving affordable housing forward immediately. Hawaiian beneficiaries have waited long enough. It is time to execute.
As OHA trustee I would work with DHHL, local labor and the private sector to create an affordable plan so that the homesteaders currently waiting can obtain affordable housing that can be constructed perhaps through self-help, prefab/pre-cut homes or in conjunction with local labor. Partnering with local banks and Fannie Mae to help assist with loan programs for homesteaders would help facilitate the expedition of home ownership Hawaiians have longed for in their own ancestral land.
2. What would you do to change how OHA is run?
OHA has lost its credibility among Native Hawaiians and the general public and has failed to serve or meet the needs of a majority of its beneficiaries despite the hundreds of millions of dollars along with having one of the largest land portfolios in the state and very little of it is spent on addressing Native Hawaiian issues.
In addition, OHA is facing attorney general and FBI investigations, ethical violations, mismanagement, fraud, misappropriation of funds, corruption and a scathing audit report.
Here’s what I would change in how OHA is run: Stop wasting trust money on political agendas and personal self-dealings, and spend it on resolving the homeless, houseless situations of its Hawaiian beneficiaries as well as focus on other important necessities like jobs, education, health care, dental care and financial education.
The corruption, fraud, wasteful spending, self-dealings, ethics violations and so on must end. This agency and its resources belong to you the people, therefore it is important for you to know what’s going on with your resources and how it’s being spent.
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?
What I would do to bridge this gap is to assemble our Native Hawaiians into discussion in the initial planning stages of projects and integrate their input. Education on issues help everyone including non-Hawaiians to determine the best route appropriate in the decision making process especially if development of projects are on public land trusts.
Therefore, open communication, listening to concerns, understanding cultural practices and beliefs, will help bridge the gap for Hawaiians and all parties concerned.
4. Do you support the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea? Why or why not?
I have witnessed the ugly conflict, name calling, infighting between friends and families, broken friendships, and negative comments on social media, regarding one’s stance on being pro- or con-TMT. It is especially sad to see Hawaiians pitted against each other simply because of differing viewpoints. Regardless of one’s personal views, we can “agree to disagree” and still live in harmony and peace in God’s world.
Kapu aloha became the call for peace, unity, respect and love during the protests at Mauna Kea and must continue to be exhibited every day toward one another and not only for a specific time period.
We must ensure that pono management of the mauna is of highest priority.The state must fulfill its obligations to preserve and protect the environment and cultural heritage of the mauna. The breach of trust and continued broken promises by UH and the state has garnered negative criticism on their inability to properly steward the land.
OHA’s role in the management of Mauna Kea should be recognized by the state as a co-manager of the mauna. OHA should truly have oversight of the Hawaiian religious and cultural areas and sites. As we move forward with science and technology in the 21st century, we must also commit ourselves to protecting, honoring and reassuring our Hawaiian people that cultural practices and beliefs will continue to flourish on the mauna.
5. Do you support OHA providing financial aid to Mauna Kea protesters?
If OHA’s policies are in alignment with this type of financial aid then yes, I do support them.
6. What role should the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands play in reducing homelessness?
The role that DHHL should play in reducing homelessness is to aggressively focus on building affordable housing. DHHL has failed miserably to do their job in providing beneficiaries housing, thus many Hawaiians find themselves homeless and without any means of support to return them to their land. No Hawaiian should be homeless, especially in their own ancestral land.
As OHA trustee, I would work toward utilizing affordable housing models such as Honsador kits and other local businesses that offer pre-fab or pre-cut models that are easily assembled. I would work with self-help groups that are currently helping Hawaiians build their own homes on their lots. I would diligently work to expand current OHA programs for Hawaiians on all islands so that they can be mentored in the construction industry or a specialized trade such as carpentry, roofing, painting, electrical and so on.
DHHL has the land and some financing and OHA has the money and an investment portfolio to underwrite development and with this partnership we should immediately be able to resolve the homeless issue for Hawaiians.
7. Why do you think Hawaiians are disproportionately represented in our prisons and jails? What can be done about it?
Unfortunately, Native Hawaiians make up a majority of the prison population in our prison system. Native Hawaiian youth are also disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice system in Hawaii, and obviously it shows that there is a disparate treatment of Hawaiians, especially in the criminal justice system.
OHA needs to relate to the needs of Hawaiians in the criminal system, their rehabilitation and support system. OHA must also advocate for governmental support in addressing disparate treatment of Native Hawaiians. OHA can work with Hawaiian groups already doing education in prisons and can help expand cultural, educational and religious Hawaiian-related programming throughout the prison systems. OHA should also create a program to assist prisoners who need employment and job training before they are discharged from the prison system so they may live a healthy productive life once they are released.
8. What are your views regarding Hawaiian self-determination?
There is no doubt that historic facts demonstrate a wrong was done and that at present the Hawaiian people’s right to be self-governing is being ignored. A political solution to this situation can only be achieved through the provision for self-determination by and for the Hawaiian peoples themselves.
Only the Hawaiian people can re-establish the Hawaiian Nation. This is their right of self-determination.
9. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?
One of the main reasons why I am running for OHA Molokai trustee is to address unresolved issues concerning the latest audit where millions of dollars are unaccounted for. OHA spent over $500,000 for an audit that produced no tangible results.
Transparency and accountability of trust funds must be addressed first before moving forward. In addition, we need to resolve the policy issues surrounding the land settlement, and the development plans for Kakaako Makai to optimize development that will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in condo sales and lease rent for OHA, thus creating a wealth of funds for expanded programs that our Hawaiian community, as well as all of Hawaii, will benefit from for years to come.
An important value my late father, Stanley Alapa of Hoolehua, taught me: selfless service to others. Selfless service to others is a prime example of what we as a Hawaiian entity should remember to implement every day as we work toward improving the conditions of Native Hawaiians as well as the entire community.
My 86-year-old mother, Kauana Kanahele, serves as my strength and inspires me to be at my best in every facet of my life while striving to support, respect and continue embracing our Hawaiian heritage.