Apoliona seeks to continue improving Native Hawaiian rights


Oahu resident and incumbent Haunani Apoliona is seeking her fifth term as the Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee at large because of her dedication and commitment to working with and on behalf on the Native Hawaiian community. She was the Board of Trustees chairwoman from 2000 to 2010 — the longest service chairperson in OHA’s 32-year history.

Not only has she served 16 years at OHA, she spent 19 years with Alu Like Inc., starting in 1978 as an employment and training counselor and leaving in 1997 as the president and chief executive officer. She also worked briefly in Hawaii Island’s 3rd Circuit Court. She’s known for her award-winning music performances and compositions with Olomana, a group she’s been with since 1982.

“Defending native rights and benefits to sustain resources into our communities, empowering Native Hawaiians and strengthening Hawaii continue to be my overall objectives,” she said.

Apoliona listed several examples of support, advocacy efforts, grants toward community-based programs, and partnerships Hawaii Island has received from the OHA Board of Trustees. She said the board funded Na Lei Naauao Native Hawaiian Charter School Consortium and has contributed an average of about $871,392 annually since 2004 to the Pua Nolau Center for Gifted and Talented Native Hawaiian Children at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

In addition, the board has supported North Hawaii Community Hospital’s Hoomalulu Project of the Kaheleaulani Clinic, Goodwill Industries of Hawaii’s Job Connections Program, Hooulu Lahui Inc. in Pahoa, After-School All-Stars Hawaii’s tutoring, homework, athletics and cultural enrichment activities, Imiloa Astronomy Center’s Wayfinding Festival and the Breadfruit Festival.

If re-elected, Apoliona’s first priority would be “the implementation and actualization of the 2010-18 strategic plan.” She said the plan, which derived from much community input, sets forth the OHA’s mission, vision, values, six strategic priorities and 10 results. The priorities pertain to health, governance, education, economic self-sufficiency, stewardship of land and water, and value history and culture. By focusing OHA’s resources on programs and activities that address these priorities, there will be systemic change that will improve conditions for all Native Hawaiians and “deliver the best results possible for positive enduring impact.”

Her second priority is to ensure responsible development of OHA-owned lands in Kakaako Makai by moving quickly to create a master plan. She explained, under a historic settlement agreement with the state, OHA received 30 acres of waterfront property in Kakaako Makai worth $200 million.

Her other priorities are to establish Native Hawaiian governance for recognition, along with an OHA co-trusteeship role for internationally recognized Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, a United Nations-designated World Heritage Site. In particular, Apoliona wants to “keep moving forward recognition” and work toward registering Native Hawaiians — “the first step” to a Native Hawaiian governing entity.