Thursday, May 10, 2001

This was the scene last September when OHA's new trustees
had their first board meeting. Shown here as the trustees
held hands and prayed are, from left, Nalani Olds,
Ilei Keale Beniamina and Dante Carpenter.

OHA vows
to rework its
master plan

The agency attempts
to overcome years
of poor management

By Pat Omandam

When state Auditor Marion Higa issued a scathing audit last March on the management of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, one of her many concerns was the agency's outdated master and functional plans.

OHA has begun to change those plans.

OHA logo The agency's nine-member board recently took a big step last week when trustees adopted official vision and mission statements for the agency, which will serve as guides for a new OHA master plan, which was last revised in 1988.

OHA Chairwoman Haunani Apoliona said these position statements are long overdue, considering they were issues raised in the past three state audits of the agency in 2000, 1997 and 1993. The changes were spearheaded by trustees John Waihee IV and Donald Cataluna, she said.

"What has been accomplished with a vision statement and a mission statement is a very good thing," Apoliona said.

By an 8-0 vote, with trustee Charles Ota excused, the board approved a vision statement of "Ho'oulu Lahui Aloha: To Raise a Beloved Nation." And trustees adopted this mission statement:

"To malama (protect) 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The most recent OHA audit criticized the board for allowing the master plan to remain outdated because trustees did not provide "sufficient direction" to its mandate to improve the conditions of Hawaiians.

This past January, the board began planning sessions to revise its master plan, as well as to provide input into the Native Hawaiian Comprehensive Master Plan, a broad-based effort that involves all agencies serving Hawaiians. The plan was required as part of the laws that created OHA in 1980, but it was never completed.

Trustees also developed short- and long-term goals that are being presented to Hawaiian communities for their input and comments. Apoliona said the meetings should be concluded by the end of May.

The board is expected to take action on them between June and July.

Among the long-term priorities for OHA are to increase the percentage of land holdings in its portfolio to 20 percent from 1 percent; start up native Hawaiian financial institutions and fiscal management systems to watch over Hawaiian assets and natural resources; and to work with other Hawaiian agencies on collaborative goals.

In the short term, trustees have suggested OHA explore creation of a credit union, consider the implementation of user fees and create cemeteries for Hawaiians.

Trustee Ota wants the Hawaiian Homes Commission and OHA to combine resources to develop cemeteries on homestead lands, much like the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl is for military veterans.

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