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Wednesday, April 26, 2000

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OHA panels
grant $426,876
for convention

The funding -- even the process
itself -- is unnecessary,
opponents claim

By Pat Omandam


Two panels with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs have approved a $426,876 grant to the Native Hawaiian Convention, despite opposition from those who continue to complain that most Hawaiians don't support this process toward sovereignty.

"Why is it when Hawaiians fight, they fight each other the hardest?" asked Momi Cazimero, one of several convention delegates who urged trustees to approve the grant.

With the Rice vs. Cayetano decision still fresh, trustees on OHA's budget and program management committees struggled with public testimony yesterday on whether they should approve the grant.

Most goes to pay for community outreach

Supporters of Ha Hawaii, a nonprofit group that handles administration for the 77 seated delegates of the convention, insist they are not a sovereignty group. Instead, they are only proposing models of sovereignty for Hawaiians to vote on, said Charles Rose, convention chairman.

Holo I Mua: Sovereignty Roundtable Rose said the convention, or 'Aha Hawaii 'Oiwi, will be done with its work once a native constitution is ratified by Hawaiians. The delegates are drafting constitutions for two forms of government -- independence and nation-within-a-nation -- and expect to be done in July.

"I believe that the recent results in the Rice vs. Cayetano decision makes our effort a more compelling one," Rose said.

Ha Hawaii originally requested a $1.9 million grant from OHA in 1998, but later amended it to $1.2 million. Last month, a revised Ha Hawaii grant surfaced for $759,154, but it was amended to $426,876 yesterday.

Trustee Haunani Apoliona said that $51,876 of the grant will be used to support personnel costs for the convention. The remaining $375,000 will be for community outreach on the two proposed models of self-determination.

Opponents, however, say OHA already has provided enough money for the convention.

OHA, state each gave $900,000 in 1996

Ha Hawaii is continuing the work of the now-disbanded Hawaiian Sovereignty Elections Council, which conducted the 1996 Native Hawaiian Vote. OHA and the state contributed matching funds of $900,000 each to conduct the mail-in ballot.

That should be enough, said trustee Rowena Akana, who said she opposes the convention because of the low voter turnout for delegates in January 1999. Fewer than 10 percent voted in that election, held by Ha Hawaii.

Also opposing the grant is trustee Mililani Trask, who said that OHA's master plan calls for consensus-building for sovereignty and that the state agency should not be favoring one group over another.

Trask said OHA needs to fund other efforts as well, such as the Congressional Task Force and its working groups that have begun discussing proposed federal legislation to recognize the political status of Hawaiians.

OHA Special

Holo I Mua: Sovereignty Roundtable

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