OHA leader looks ahead - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

OHA leader looks ahead

Haunani Apoliona Haunani Apoliona
Rep. Mele Carroll Rep. Mele Carroll
Oswald Stender Oswald Stender

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -- "We are closing a decade -- a difficult decade," Office of Hawaiian Affairs chairperson Haunani Apoliona said.

In OHA's annual State of OHA address, Apoliona said she'll petition lawmakers for a process for the state to pay back money it owes for making money off ceded lands.

It's estimated the state owes about $200 million.

"What I need to do is work with leadership in the House and the Senate to craft language that will enable us to be able to pay on that debt," said Rep. Mele Carroll, chair of the House Hawaiian Affairs Committee.

Apoliona said the agency is embarking on a strategic plan that calls for advancing OHA's limited liability corporations.

"The LLC's will serve as incubators for new Hawaiian businesses and non-profits," she said.

This year OHA awarded over $13 million in grants for projects benefiting native Hawaiians.

But it also spent millions fighting lawsuits.

"We spent in legal fees close to $2 million. It takes away from programs so it's a shame," trustee Oswald Stender said.

Apoliona said OHA must capitalize on the Asia-Pacific Economic (APEC) meetings coming in 2011. She called it an "opportunity to enlighten the world."

"When APEC leaders are here we can plant Hawaii's seeds of ideas," she said.

Apoliona said Hawaiians need to take leadership positions in government.

She wants other trusts and institutions that benefit native Hawaiians to work together to help Hawaiians of today leave a legacy for tomorrow.

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