Rowena Akana Ousted as OHA Chairwoman

Rowena Akana Ousted as OHA Chairwoman
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After less than a month as chairwoman of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Rowena Akana, has been ousted as chairwoman. Today's vote came with heated exchanges and chaotic moments. All of this comes amid allegations of mismanagement, misspending, and a battle between her and the agency's CEO.

Akana wants a full audit and management review of the organization.

"You are all protecting each other. When this audit happens, it's going to go back several years," she said.

"I think we need to commend Rowena Akana for the initiative that she has taken with respect for getting that audit on the table," trustee Kelii Akina said.

The fire fueled hotter after Akana filed for injuctive relief in court asking a judge to rule that CEO Kamanaopono Crabbe's new three-year contract is invalid.

Crabbe's defenders lashed out at her.

"She has caused nothing but turmoil in this organization since being elected as chair... She has gone on a spree personally attacking other trustees and she unilaterally filed a lawsuit yesterday on behalf of OHA that will likely end up being found frivolous," trustee Dan Ahuna said.

"It was a declaratory judgment to look over the asking the court to look over the contract to see if it's legal that's all it is. It's not a lawsuit," Akana said.

"It appears to be a last attempt power grab in desperation to try to take him out," OHA beneficiary Kaui Pratt said. Pratt supports the reorganization.

"I support giving Chair Akana a fair term," OHA beneficiary Kaiulani Milham said.

Throughout the meeting, CEO Crabbe remained silent and Akana says she's not surprise by the vote.

"From the day that I took the chairmanship, Trustee Ahuna and Trustee Lindsey have been trying to unseat me," she said.

Vice chair Lei Ahu Isa now takes over as interim chair.

"I want to bring stability to the organization," she said.

Akana insists her legal matters are not being paid for by OHA, but should wouldn't say who's funding them.

As for the vote today, five trustees (Lei Ahu Isa, Dan Ahuna, Peter Apo, Robert Lindsey, Collette Machado) voted to remove her as chair, three abstained (Kelii Akina, Hulu Lindsey, John Waihee III) and only Akana voted no.

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