Office Of Hawaiian Affairs

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The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is a semi-autonomous state agency created in 1978 “to address the needs of the aboriginal class of people of Hawaii.” By state law, 20 percent of all income and proceeds derived from the public land trust — 1.2 million acres of ceded land held in trust for the benefit of Native Hawaiians — are to be paid annually to OHA by the state of Hawaii. That 20 percent amounted to approximately $15.1 million in ceded lands revenue for the 2011 fiscal year.

Overview

While OHA is a government agency, only 6 percent of its budget for fiscal 2011 — $2.47 million — came from the state’s general fund. The rest of its $40 million operating budget came from ceded lands revenue from the state, investments and federal funds.

It’s mission is “to malama Hawaii’s people and environmental resources and OHA’s assets, toward ensuring the perpetuation of the culture, the enhancement of lifestyle and the protection of entitlements of Native Hawaiians, while enabling the building of a strong and healthy Hawaiian people and nation, recognized nationally and internationally.” The agency spends the bulk of its revenue on grants and programs to support its mission.

The use of OHA’s trust funds is limited to Hawaiians of 50 percent blood quantum, making general funds from the Legislature “critical as it allows OHA to provide support and assistance to Hawaiians in fulfillment of state law, which states OHA’s purpose as bettering the condition of all Hawaiians regardless of blood quantum.”

The agency, which has 163 employees, is led by its CEO, Clyde Namuo, and its board of trustees. Here’s a link to OHA’s organizational chart.

At times, OHA has claimed its employees are not public employees, nor subject to open records laws, because the bulk of its revenue comes from ceded lands, it says are not “public funds.”

Organization

OHA’s Office of the Administrator is organized into two branches: operations and beneficiary advocacy and empowerment. The operations branch manages internal operations, while the beneficiary advocacy and empowerment branch oversees OHA’s six program divisions: Hawaiian Governance Hale; Grants Unit; Native Rights, Land, and Culture Hale; Economic Development Hale; Education Hale; and Health, Human Services and Housing Hale. The office also oversees the Washington D.C. office, which focuses on Hawaiian issues at the federal level.

View its annual reports online.

Board of Trustees

OHA’s nine trustees are elected by the general public for four year terms. Four positions are representatives “at large” and the other five represent districts, including Hawaii Island; Maui, Molokai, and Lanai; Oahu; and Kauai and Niihau. Some of its responsibilities include policy setting and managing of the agency’s trust. Here’s a link to bios of OHA’s trustees.

History

When Hawaii became a state in 1959 all lands of the Hawaiian monarchy that were not being federally used were “ceded” to the state, about 1.8 million acres. Section 5(f) of the Admission Act held that all transferred lands being designated into a trust with the following purposes: support public education, improve the conditions of native Hawaiians, development of farm and home ownership, make public improvements, and provision land for public use.

At the 1978 Constitutional Convention, delegates packaged a group of provisions for the new Constitution of Hawaii for the benefit of Native Hawaiians, including the establishment of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

OHA held its first election on November 4, 1980 with a voter turnout of 43,000 Hawaiians. The first trustees were sworn in on November 27, 1980 by the late Hawaii Chief Justice William S. Richardson. The first nine members of the OHA Board of Trustees were Peter Apo, Roy Benham, Rodney Burgess, Frenchy De Soto, Thomas Kaulukukui Sr., Moke Keale, Joseph Kealoha, Walter Ritte, and Malama Solomon. The election of OHA trustees is now open to all voters, not just Hawaiians.

Impacts

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs assists thousands of Native Hawaiians through a number of grants and loan programs as well as through service providers. OHA offers six different grant categories ranging from $10,000 to $100,000. In 2007, OHA revealed the Malama Loan Program for native Hawaiians naming First Hawaiian Bank as the strategic lender. The loan is offered for businesses, education, and home improvement purposes for amounts up to $75,000 at 5 percent fixed rates for five year lifespans. Read descriptions of OHA’s grants and loan programs online.

Contact

OHA Honolulu Headquarters
711 Kapi’olani Blvd., Ste. 500
Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone: (808) 594-1835
Fax: (808) 594-1865
e-mail: info@oha.org

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Office Of Hawaiian Affairs
OHA At-Large Candidates Have Raised Little Money So Far Cory Lum/Civil Beat

OHA At-Large Candidates Have Raised Little Money So Far

None of the three incumbents — Lei Ahu Isa, Rowena Akana and John Waihee IV — reported spending any money this year and two are in debt.

OHA Inspires Hope — And Disillusionment — For Hawaiians Cory Lum/Civil Beat

OHA Inspires Hope — And Disillusionment — For Hawaiians

Created out of the idealism of the 1970s Hawaiian Renaissance, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has been bogged down by scandal and infighting.

This OHA Trustee Is Taking On The State Ethics Commission Cory Lum/Civil Beat

This OHA Trustee Is Taking On The State Ethics Commission

UPDATED: In the middle of a state ethics investigation and other public criticism, Rowena Akana has filed a new lawsuit.

Here’s The Spending That Got OHA Incumbents In Trouble Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Here’s The Spending That Got OHA Incumbents In Trouble

A state audit said Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees used their $22,200 per year personal allowances for questionable purposes.

Another Hawaii State Audit Questions OHA Grant Spending Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Another Hawaii State Audit Questions OHA Grant Spending

The state auditor raises questions about whether the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is meeting its fiduciary duty to Native Hawaiians.

Office Of Hawaiian Affairs Halts Some Spending After Scathing Audit Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Office Of Hawaiian Affairs Halts Some Spending After Scathing Audit

OHA was criticized for spending millions of dollars without sufficient oversight and ignoring its own rules.

Office Of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Calls For Firing Of CEO Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Office Of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Calls For Firing Of CEO

A recent state audit found both the chief executive, Kamana‘opono Crabbe, and trustees are responsible for misspending.

Final State Audit Criticizes OHA For Misspending, Lack Of Transparency Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Final State Audit Criticizes OHA For Misspending, Lack Of Transparency

The audit found the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is spending money too loosely in a way that benefits the politically connected.

OHA Demands Financial Details From Its Own Companies Cory Lum/Civil Beat

OHA Demands Financial Details From Its Own Companies

Organizations created by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs will have to provide documents for an internal audit.

Hawaii Auditor Demands Investigation Into Leak Of OHA Audit Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Hawaii Auditor Demands Investigation Into Leak Of OHA Audit

Les Kondo says a release to the media of a draft audit into problems at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs violated state ethics law.

Searing Audit Says OHA Misspent Millions Of Dollars Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Searing Audit Says OHA Misspent Millions Of Dollars

UPDATED: The Office of Hawaiian Affairs chairwoman says trustees are already addressing problems identified in the audit.

OHA Trustees’ Settlement Cost $879,000 In Legal Fees Cory Lum/Civil Beat

OHA Trustees’ Settlement Cost $879,000 In Legal Fees

Updated: The state agency paid $614,000 to litigate Akana vs. Machado, while insurer AIG paid for $265,000.