The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has announced plans to begin canvassing communities across the state and the U.S. Mainland and holding town hall-style meetings as part of a larger effort to ensure as many Native Hawaiians as possible are eligible to participate in the nation-building process. OHA is recruiting volunteers to knock on doors and make phone calls in hopes of making more Hawaiians familiar with this new opportunity to better manage their future. The next town hall-style meeting is scheduled for 6 pm Tuesday, April 8, 2014, at the Keaukaha Elementary Cafeteria in East Hawai’i Island.
In recent testimony to state lawmakers, OHA Chief Operating Officer Kawika Burgess pointed out that nine parcels of Kaka’ako Makai lands were not transferred to the agency to create open space or public access to Kewalo Basin. Instead, the lands were transferred in 2012 to settle a 30-year-old outstanding debt and generate income for programs and services for Native Hawaiians. “OHA is seeking to remove the residential restriction on just three of the interior parcerls, none of which are located along the shoreline,” Burgess said. “Some who oppose this bill claim that if the legislature removes the restriction from these three parcels, it will result in OHA blocking access to the waterfront and the loss of the last remaining open space in Kakaako Makai… It is unconscionable that OHA would block access to the waterfront. OHA has committed to enhancing access along the Kewalo Basin waterfront and supports the planned promenade along the waterfront. There is currently no safe access along the waterfront which the public uses to access Kewalo Basin.”
More than 200 supporters of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs gathered Tuesday at the Hawai`i Legislature as a bill that would give the agency the ability to pursue residential development on at least three of the 10 parcels it owns in Kaka’ako Makai gains momentum.
The bill cleared the House Committee on Finance after more than five hours of spirited testimony that followed a rally led by OHA in the rotunda of the Hawai`i Legislature.
The bill now goes to the full House for a vote, which is expected April 8.
Known as Senate Bill 3122 and companion House Bill 2554, the measures would eliminate the restrictions placed on the land eight years ago and enable OHA to commission a master plan for the area.
In addition, the legislation would allow OHA to maximize the value of several parcels of land that it now owns as part of an estimated $200 million settlement with the state to resolve a longstanding dispute over ceded lands revenues.
"I am extremely encouraged by the momentum our bill has gained in the Hawai’i Legislature," said OHA Ka Pouhana (CEO) Kamana’opono Crabbe. "But we still need everyone’s support to get final approval. For OHA, this is strictly about getting a pono return on our significant investment in Kaka’ako Makai. Residential development on just three of the 10 parcels would allow us to make a fair return on our investment and continue to fund programs that benefit future generations of Hawaiians."
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has won key support as it pushes for state lawmakers to give the agency the ability to pursue residential development on at least three of the 10 parcels it owns in Kaka’ako Makai.
In an editorial Friday, the Pacific Business News said that “in all fairness, state lawmakers should pass legislation to allow OHA to maximize the value of several parcels of land that it now owns” as part of an estimated $200 million settlement with the state to resolve a longstanding dispute over ceded lands revenues.
But OHA is not seeing resistance from Kamehameha Schools and Howard Hughes Corp., the two major developers in Kaka’ako Mauka, as suggested in the editorial; however, it is true that a coalition of surfers has been vehemently opposed to efforts to roll back restrictions that have been in place on the lands since 2006.
In its editorial, PBN mentioned that Senate Bill 3122 and companion House Bill 2554 would eliminate the restrictions placed on the land eight years ago and enable OHA to commission a master plan for the area.
"We support the passage of either SB 3122 or HB 2554 for two reasons," the PBN editorial said. "First, is the issue of fairness. It would be unfair for the state to negotiate a payout to OHA of land supposedly valued at $200 million and then not allow OHA to maximize the value of that land.
"Second, it seems imprudent to rush into vertical development of Kaka’ako Mauka without including Kaka’ako Makai in the conversation. It is, after all, one area of Honolulu, and the fact that Ala Moana Boulevard runs through it does not make one part more important than the other."
- Focal Length
- iPhone 5
OHA Chief Financial Officer Hawley Iona greets the four presenters for a conference in Hana. Standing behind her are: Rebecca Soon, of Solutions Pacific; Helen Wai, a financial-literacy consultant; Lou Cooperhouse, a consultant to UH Maui College; and Desiree Vea, of Hawaiian Community Assets.
Nearly 30 Hawaiians in Hana benefitted from a day-long conference intended to help improve their sense of economic well-being. Organized by OHA and ALU LIKE INC., the conference at the Hana Community Center on Maui featured workshops on starting a business; maintaining a home; managing debt and succeeding in the food industry. The conference was tied to a strategic priority at OHA to help more Native Hawaiians achieve economic self-sufficiency, or ho’okahua waiwai.
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has announced that it is moving its operation from Kaka’ako into the building it now owns in Iwilei.
Starting Dec. 16, OHA’s new address will be 737 Iwilei Road, Suite 200, which is about a block away from the Dole Cannery.
OHA is moving into the Gentry Pacific Design Center, which it acquired in August 2012 as part of an investment strategy aimed at helping the public agency generate income from real estate that could help fund its programs that benefit Native Hawaiians.
The move into an estimated 44,000-square-foot space comes after 21 years of leasing a roughly 30,000-square-foot space in the Pacific Park Plaza in Kaka’ako.
“We look forward to serving the Native Hawaiian community with new energy and enthusiasm from our new location,” said OHA Ka Pouhana (Chief Executive Officer) Kamana’opono Crabbe. “We also are excited about this opportunity to create a new workplace that encourages collaboration and offers responsive service to our beneficiaries as well as community partners.”
Lareina Meinecke, who joined OHA’s staff in August, is the new face of the agency’s Consumer Micro-Loan Program.
In the scramble to make ends meet, consumers like Annolia Tilton have been turning to an emergency-loan program at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
The 61-year-old retired cook from Honomu tapped the program for help with an unforeseen emergency.
"OHA was my last hope to give my husband a decent burial," said Tilton, who needed $1,700 in extra cash to help pay for the funeral. "I did ten hail Marys. A huge burden was lifted when I received the loan."
Known as the Consumer Micro-Loan Program, it reached a milestone in November with its 10-year anniversary.
The program makes up to $7,500 in low-interest loans available to Native Hawaiian consumers to pay for emergency auto repairs, career training, home repairs and funeral expenses.
Tilton is one of 408 Native Hawaiians who have taken out a combined total of $1.9 million in emergency-loans from the program since OHA created it a decade ago for its beneficiaries who are experiencing temporary financial hardship due to unforeseen circumstances.
For more information about the program, visit www.oha.org/cmlp
College students Zachary Villanueva, left, Rachel Makaiwi and Amber Kalua meet at a campus library.
More than 3,000 students and their families are expected to participate in a series of college-scholarship fairs across the state, starting Thursday at the University of Hawai’i-Mānoa campus.
Known as the Scholarship ‘Aha Program, the statewide series will highlight the various scholarships that are available to Native Hawaiians.
The program is jointly sponsored by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs; University of Hawai’i; Native Hawaiian Education Association; Kamehameha Schools; and the Pacific Financial Aid Association (PacFAA).
For details, click here:
OHA’s role in the effort stems from a focus on two key priorities:
"The first is to increase the percentage of Native Hawaiian students who meet or exceed reading in math standards at the middle and high school levels," said Lisa Watkins-Victorino, an executive at OHA who is leading the agency’s efforts to approach its commitment to Hawaiian education with a renewed sense of urgency. "The second goal is to increase the graduation rate at a post-secondary level."
In the past five years, OHA’s scholarship program has given out $3.3 million in financial aid to more than 1,500 Hawaiian students, who receive an average of $2,000 to cover their expenses.
- Focal Length
- Canon EOS 5D Mark III
In the latest example of OHA’s efforts to improve conditions for Native Hawaiians, Nathan Suganuma is breathing easier after fixing a 30-year-old roof on his house in the Keaukaha section of Hilo. He paid for the repairs with a $6,000 home-improvement loan from OHA. He is among the 1,880-plus Native Hawaiian consumers who have taken advantage of loans from OHA with interest rates that don’t squeeze their wallets. “The loan allowed me to extend the life of my home,” said Suganuma, 61, who is retired from the Hawaii County Parks & Recreation Department. “And the low-interest rate on the loan left more money in my pocket.”