Apo Reveals Why It’s Time to Replace OHA Trustees
by Dr. Keli’i Akina, PhD
Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Peter Apo has gone on record in a recent opinion piece (Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 9/30/12), exposing the true agenda and thinking of the current trustees. Apo claims that the rationale driving OHA’s pursuit of “redress from the federal government” is the “well-documented history of the near-genocidal colonization of the Hawaiian people.” Not only is this statement factually inaccurate--the U.S. federal government had no substantial dealings with the Hawaiian people until decades after the significant population-reducing epidemics of the early 1800’s—but Apo’s statement is irresponsible and inflammatory.
Apo explains that “…Hawaiians and their institutions, led by OHA, have been fiercely focused on achieving political sovereignty.” There it is. No hiding behind terms such as self-determination, native recognition, economic advancement, or cultural preservation. The goal of OHA is clear, to achieve “political sovereignty.” And in this quest, Apo claims, OHA is the leader of all other Hawaiian institutions. It would be good to fact-check this by asking the Kamehameha Schools, the Lili’uokalani Trust, Queen’s Hospital, and the Hawaiian Civic Clubs, whether they accord to OHA the leadership role Apo claims and whether their purpose is to achieve political sovereignty.
In the last year, OHA has undergone a rapid transformation from a mostly cash-based trust to a major land owner, with holdings on the neighbor islands and 30 acres of prime downtown waterfront property in Honolulu. All this has apparently gone to the trustees’ heads when Apo speaks of the "collective asset base" of all Hawaiian organizations, united under the leadership of OHA, consisting of “…hundreds of thousands of acres in land and billions in liquid assets." Watch out Kamehameha Schools, your invested billions are apparently “liquid assets” waiting to be directed by the current OHA trustees.
Apo also wants Hawaiians to be wary of the dominant non-Hawaiian population because he senses a "subtle but consistent rise of impatience with Hawaiians as we continue to press for redress.” Here, he may have a point, but the impatience is not with “Hawaiians;” it is with OHA’s trustees and others who promote their worldview.
If his talk seems a little unnerving to non-Hawaiians, Apo reassures that Hawaiians “are the people of Aloha,” and non-Hawaiians can trust OHA for a “common future” that is “inclusive.” He apparently wants his readers to ignore the fact that the OHA trustees have embraced and now administer Act 195, the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission Act, which states that only blood-descended Hawaiians may be enrolled as citizens in a Hawaiian nation. Hawaiians who possess birth certificate evidence of their lineage should also take heed. To avoid disqualification, they will be subject to a test of their “cultural, social, or civic connection to the Native Hawaiian Community.”
Apo’s ramblings make it clear that the current trustees, under Haunani Apoliona’s long-term leadership as Chair (and now as Vice-Chair), have lost touch with truth, reality and Hawaiian values. On November 6th, all registered voters in the state of Hawaii have the opportunity to retire Ms. Apoliona. And, in 2014, they can retire Mr. Apo.
Dr. Keli’i Akina is a philosopher who lectures on human rights and business ethics in Chinese and American universities. He is a candidate for OHA Trustee-at-Large in the November 6th Hawaii General Election. His website is www.Akina2012.com and his e-mail address is kelii@EWLE.net.
Peter Apo: Hawaiians need to just connect the dots