Waimea Valley, a 1,800-acre property owned by OHA, is seeing an increase in revenue and visitors. In a presentation today to the OHA Board of Trustees, the visitor-attraction on the North Shore of Oʻahu reported that revenues rose 5 percent to $1.6 million in the three-month period that ended June 30. The total number of visitors also grew to 86,861 in the same period, representing a slight 1 percent increase.
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Students participate in class project at Kanu o ka ʻĀina Learning ʻOhana in Kamuela.
Trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs have awarded a $1.5 million grant to charter schools with a special emphasis on Native Hawaiian language, culture and traditions.
The OHA grant is expected over the next year to help the 17 Hawaiian-focused charter schools, which make up the Nā Lei Na’auao, cover expenses from teaching and feeding students as well as transporting them to school.
The OHA grant to the alliance comes at a time when Hawaiian-focused charter schools are scrambling to keep pace with growing enrollment, which climbed this year to 4,224 students from 3,202 students a year ago.
The grant also reflects a top priority at OHA to increase the achievement levels of Native Hawaiian students. Since 2010, OHA’s Board of Trustees has approved $7.5 million in grant money for Hawaiian-focused charter schools.
“Our support for Hawaiian-focused charter schools is one of the best investments we can make in our children’s future,” said OHA Chairperson Colette Machado. “We are extremely encouraged by the efforts of Hawaiian-focused charter schools.”
Meahilahila Kelling, director of Ke Kula ʻo Samuel M. Kamakau, a kindergarten through 12th-grade charter school in Kaneohe, expects the OHA grant to provide the alliance with a much-needed boost in the 2014-2015 school year. “We are extremely grateful for the continued support of the OHA trustees and staff,” Kelling said. “OHA’s continued investment in the Hawaiian focused public charter schools will help us to further our missions and positively impact Native Hawaiian youth.”
When Moani Vertido couldn’t easily get a loan to pay her college tuition for her last semester in graduate school, the Chaminade University alumna turned to one such program at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
The 33-year-old aspiring nurse practitioner qualified for $6,300 at 4 percent, a low rate that she didn’t qualify for at any local bank in Hawai‘i.
“The loan amount was enough to pay for my last semester,” said Vertido, who earned her master’s degree in nursing in 2012. “I needed the loan quickly to graduate.”
Over the next 16 months, OHA will be making $10 million in Mālama Loans available to Native Hawaiians who need to access cash to start businesses, improve their homes, consolidate debts and continue their education.
The outreach is part of a broader effort to help improve a sense of economic well-being among Native Hawaiian consumers. The outreach is also expected to help cement the program’s status as a lender of last resort to Native Hawaiians, who are among those increasingly getting squeezed by tight lending standards at Hawai‘i banks.
Since it was created in 2007, OHA’s Mālama Loan Program has given out more than $34 million in low-interest loans to an estimated 2,000 Native Hawaiian consumers.
Behind the numbers are Native Hawaiian consumers like Vertido, who graduated from Kamehameha Schools in 1998 and completed in one year her master’s degree in nursing thanks to her loan from OHA.
“Working full-time while attending college was difficult,” Vertido said. “My biggest challenge came when I entered my final semester and ran out of money. I was so close to getting my master’s degree. If I didn’t finish in 2012, I would have missed the opportunity to complete my master’s in one year and I would not be where I am now – enrolled in the UH (University of Hawai‘i) Nursing Program and working at Shriners Hospital as a care coordinator for Quest patients.”
For more information on the Mālama Loan, call (808) 594-1835.
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Maka‘ala Ka‘aumoana is among the dozens of unsung people trying to do right by their communities in the fierce legal battles over public rights to an increasingly vital treasure – water.
The 67-year-old Native Hawaiian from Hanalei has taken on corporate misbehavior in the bottled water industry in Hawai‘i. In fact, her outcry led to a Hawai‘i Supreme Court ruling earlier this year against Kaua‘i Springs, a company in Kōloa that was bottling and selling water drawn from a spring nestled 1,000 feet up the Kāhili Mountain.
"The company’s owner, to this day, is convinced that another water-bottling company busted him," Ka‘aumoana said in an interview as trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs prepared to travel to Kaua‘i to listen to community concerns and hold meetings scheduled for July 16-17.
"I was the one who told the (Kaua`i) planning commission that it had the authority to stop the company from taking our water, bottling it and selling it," Ka‘aumoana said. "It was a use that the county was not experienced in enforcing or regulating. And I called people I knew to come and help."
The help Ka‘aumoana enlisted was mainly from OHA’s legal and public-policy staff. Earthjustice also stepped in to represent two community groups: Mālama Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i’s Thousand Friends.
On one side of what eventually became a landmark decision on water resources was Kaua‘i Springs, which had successfully appealed a planning commission decision in 2006 to deny its request for a land-use permit after being cited by the planning commission for operating without one.
On the other side was the planning commission, which won a significant legal victory in March 2014 when the Hawai‘i Supreme Court ruled against the water-bottling company. The ruling essentially helped ensure that water benefits everyone and not just corporate interests.
“The supreme court has again emphasized the law’s powerful protections of our public water resources against private exploitation,” said Isaac Moriwake, an attorney for Earthjustice. “We were happy to work alongside OHA to provide our perspectives to the court, which the court clearly took to heart.”
As for Ka‘aumoana, she brought the issue to OHA’s attention.
“The role OHA played in this effort was several layers deep,” she said. “First, they held my hands and told me that what I care about was worth caring about. They told me I was doing the right thing. They supported my efforts to get the attention of others to join the fight. They not only provided internal legal expertise, but hired the late Jon Van Dyke, a leading expert on Hawaiian land and water rights law. But the key to this whole thing was feeling like somebody was listening and getting the right people to step in.”
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OHA was represented at a joint press conference Monday at the State Capitol to announce a commitment from high-level state and county officials to helping steer Hawai`i toward a desirable clean-energy future by setting a series of goals for sustainability.“We must honor our past while also preparing for our future,” said Kamana‘opono Crabbe, OHA’s Ka Pouhana and Chief Executive Officer at the press conference with the governor and four county mayors. “The active participation of the community partners in this effort will also play a major role in bringing about a better, brighter future for all people of Hawaii.”
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A bill signed into law today commits the state government to taking a comprehensive and modernized approach to eliminating critical health disparities that affect Native Hawaiians and other vulnerable populations.
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs advocated for the policy change during this year’s legislative session, which emphasizes international and national best practices in addressing the “social determinants of health,” such as access to education, housing, transportation, human services and healthy foods.
With this new measure, state agencies are urged to consider such factors as neighborhood safety and the availability of open spaces, which could impact how much time individuals spend outside or exercising. These and other social determinants have a direct bearing on the health of individuals and are particularly useful in addressing the health disparities of the most health-vulnerable communities.
"OHA has been one of the strongest advocates for closing the health disparities that affect Native Hawaiians," said Kamana‘opono Crabbe, Ka Pouhana and CEO. "With this new law, the state acknowledges the importance of smart and strategic health planning and has reiterated its commitment to address the health status of Native Hawaiians and other vulnerable communities.”
Known as OHA’s Health Planning bill HB1616/SB2103, the measure was the focus of a bill-signing ceremony at the State Capitol. The measure updates the state’s health planning statute. It also supports a top priority at OHA to improve the health of Native Hawaiians by reducing their obesity rate.
MOLOKA‘I (June 24, 2014) – For hunter, fisherman and carpenter Yama Kaholo‘a‘a, his list of feats since moving to Moloka‘i more than 30 years ago is as long it is varied, including teaching teens from broken homes survival skills in the island’s rugged rainforests, building his four-bedroom house by himself, and raising seven children.
But gaining legal custody of three granddaughters remains the triumph that this 68-year-old resident of the Ho‘olehua Homestead is genuinely most excited about.
With an emergency $7,500 loan from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Kaholo‘a‘a, who has 26 grandchildren, was able to make the home improvements that Child Welfare Services made a condition for giving him custody of three granddaughters and keeping them out of Hawaii’s foster care system.
“My grandchildren mean everything to me,” Kaholo‘a‘a said during a conversation in his garage before a June 18 community meeting on Moloka‘i hosted by OHA trustees. “Without that OHA loan, I don’t get the chance I have today, which is to create a more stable life for three of my granddaughters.”
Kaholo‘a‘a is among more than 400 Native-Hawaiian consumers who have borrowed an estimated $2 million from OHA’s often-overlooked emergency loan program since it was created in 2005.
Called the “Consumer Micro-Loan Program, it was created for Native Hawaiians, who are experiencing temporary financial hardship due to unforeseen circumstances.
The program makes up to $7,500 in low-interest loans available to Native-Hawaiian consumers to pay for emergencies ranging from auto and home repairs to funeral and legal expenses.
Kaholo‘a‘a used the loan mainly to fix a roof that leaked and install windows that keep mosquitoes away. More importantly, the home repairs allowed him to comply fully with federal child-welfare standards designed to protect kids like his granddaughters – 14-year-old Makaila, 13-year-old Shandalyn, and 15-months-old Caroline — from neglect and abuse.
For Makaila, whose extra-curricular pursuits include volleyball and softball, the home repairs bring with them the promise of stability in her life, which is enriched by a grandmother, Caroline, who she describes as “caring and funny” and a grandfather that she said “never says no” and takes her everywhere, including diving for prawns and other seafood in his 33-foot boat.
“Without my grandparents, I would feel sad and lost,” Makaila said. “I don’t think I can handle not being with them.”
For more information about OHA’s Consumer Micro-Loan Program, visit www.oha.org/cmlp
Luckily for Clayton Kiliona Ku, he was ready when the opportunity came for him to buy his four-bedroom home at the Kanehili homestead in Kapolei.
But it was not because the first-time homeowner had been saving up to buy the home he lives in with his wife and two young children.
Instead, the 31-year-old Navy sailor credited the $15,000 in assistance he received from a program partly funded by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to specifically help Native Hawaiians come up with the down payment to buy a home.
“The grant really helped,” Ku said. “I didn’t think I was any where near ready for the opportunity. It was just sheer luck; things fell into place for us.”
He is among dozens of Native Hawaiians who have bought their homes within the past year through the Hawai‘i Family Finance Project, which received a $500,000 OHA grant to pay for homeownership counseling as well as assistance with down payments.
The program, which fits into a broader strategy at OHA to help Native Hawaiians achieve housing stability, is also funded by the U.S. Department of Treasury, Wells Fargo and First Hawaiian Bank.
The OHA grant specifically helped 49 Native Hawaiian families with down payments, accounting for 61 percent of the families receiving this particular assistance from the program, which is coordinated by the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement.
In addition, the OHA grant helped 83 Native Hawaiian families buy homes after receiving homeownership counseling, accounting for 43 percent of the families receiving counseling from the program.
Among other key highlights: the program has helped 1,556 Native-Hawaiian families improve their credit score, the number that measures creditworthiness and goes a long way toward determining where you can afford to live.
While this program’s OHA funding has dried up, information about similar assistance can be obtained by calling either Hawaiian Community Assets toll free at (866) 400-1116; or the Hawaii Homeownership Center at (877) 523-9503.
Native Hawaiians on Moloka‘i will get an opportunity to provide feedback to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) at a community forum as well as a regular meeting scheduled by the Board of Trustees.
The community meeting is planned for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at Kūlana ‘Ōiwi Hālau in Kalama‘ula; in addition, the regular Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday, June 19, 2014 at Kūlana ‘Ōiwi Hālau in Kalama‘ula.
For more information, visit www.oha.org, or call OHA’s office on Moloka‘i at (808) 560-3611.
— Photo courtesy of PictureMan of Hawaii
Kamana‘opono Crabbe, the Ka Pouhana and CEO at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, delivered the commencement address on Saturday for more than 500 graduate students who received their diplomas this year from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
Speaking at the university’s 103rd Annual Advanced Degree Commencement Ceremony, Crabbe congratulated students in the class of 2014 on their hard work and accomplishments.
He also highlighted the importance of their generation of leaders to efforts to help create a better Hawai‘i.