- Sierra Club
- Hawaiʻi Government Employees Association
- International Longshore and Warehouse Union
- The Honolulu Star-Advertiser
New leadership needed for OHA
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs was born 40 years ago as a creation of the 1978 Constitutional Convention, held in the midst of the Hawaiian cultural renaissance, and ratified by the voters. It emerged as a step toward self-governance, imbued with hope from its supporters that it would give voice to many in Hawaii’s indigenous community who otherwise had little power.Since then, there has been a U.S. Supreme Court ruling opening OHA board of trustees voting to all — Native Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike — making election of the nine who supervise the assets held in trust for Hawaiians, everyone’s responsibility.
Unfortunately, those with the greatest name recognition tend to repeatedly win these races. That tendency is certainly not unique to OHA, but it has meant that many of the voices in the diverse Native Hawaiian population rarely rise to the top.
Oahu resident trustee
The Star-Advertiser favors the election of Esther Kia‘aina as Oahu trustee, bringing with her the considerable experience she’s gained working at the federal level, both as a Capitol Hill aide and as assistant secretary of the Interior Department in the Obama administration. Back at home, she became first deputy director of the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources.
More than her opponent, Kalei Akaka, Kia‘aina has the mix of federal and state government work that could further OHA’s goals.
“Esther Kiaʻāina possesses the professional experience and ancestral knowledge to bring leadership and civility to the OHA Board of Trustees. Esther’s voice is critical for improving the conditions of Native Hawaiians and for Hawaii’s future.”
– Longtime Community Leader, Beadie Kanahele Dawson
“OHA needs to rebuild trust in its leadership. I believe Esther Kiaʻāina will work with fellow trustees to help stabilize OHA to fulfill its mission – making Hawaiʻi better for all who call it home, especially our Native Hawaiian brothers and sisters.”
– Makana Paris, Prince Kūhiō Hawaiian Civic Club President
“Esther’s experience and knowledge about the critical issues facing Hawaiʻi is impressive. She would not only ensure fiscal accountability but would also provide a much needed difference as an OHA trustee because of her ability to collaborate with various agencies and community groups.”
– Kaʻiu Kimura, Hawaiʻi Island Education & Business Community Leader
“I’ve always known Esther to get things done. She’s effective and no-nonsense.”
– Amy Agbayani, Civil Rights Leader