Hawaiian Affairs Advance

Community says mahalo for OHA support.

Last week, Native Hawaiians of the Friendly Isle gave thanks and heard about the future of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) during its annual “Share Mana`o: OHA in Your Neighborhood” community meeting.

The meeting, held at Kulana `Oiwi, also shared plans of OHA’s ongoing projects and how it’s helping address the needs of the Hawaiian populace.

Before discussing the future, six Molokai beneficiaries talked about the past. They made presentations to the board about how they utilized OHA’s recent funding and extended their gratitude for the financial support.

Pennies for PRISM
Aka`ula School, which serves fifth through eighth grade students, kicked off  the presentations by thanking OHA for the $86,076 grant received earlier this year. The grant is intended to help the charter school’s teachers and students develop resources that would allow other communities to replicate the school’s award-winning PRISM project.

PRISM, or Providing Resolutions with Integrity for a Sustainable Molokai, is a hands-on science program that engages students in environmental issues. Students are required to select and investigate an environmental issue on Molokai through collecting and analyzing data, and forming action plans. Past PRISM investigations have provided data on fishponds, hunting, and solid waste.

The project is expected to produce 100 educational kits and a website designed to assist with the distribution of materials by its end. Aka`ula students and teachers also plan on holding PRISM workshops for other Hawaiian communities who wish to jump aboard.

“We saw at Aka`ula the beaming smiles,” said OHA Trustee Robert Lindsey, who visited the school earlier that day. “That’s what we hope to continue to see.”

Aka`ula Principal Dara Lukonen, who says the school has been receiving OHA grants since its inception in 2004, gave a warm mahalo to the members of OHA for their continued support and role within the school.

“We’re very appreciative of OHA and their support for our kids,” she said.

Stroke of Luck
When it was Na Pua Noeau’s turn to present, they greeted the board with fresh lei and a Hawaiian mele. Through OHA’s funding, Na Pua Noeau has been able to successfully provide gifted and talented Native Hawaiian children with educational enrichment opportunities on Molokai, as well as statewide.

“This program has been most productive,” said OHA Trustee Oswald Stender. “Despite challenges that came our way, our commitment and passion for children remains strong. This program is so valuable.”

Following a “rough legislative session,” in which OHA nearly had to eliminate all of Na Pua Noeau’s funds, among others, trustee Collette Machado praised the beneficiaries for weathering the storm.

“The trustees do see value in all of your work,” she said. “It was a rough time.”

Through OHA’s continued grants, Na Pua Noeau – which has serviced more than 233 Molokai youth – was able to hold 13 events this year, while incorporating things like forensic science, recycling and getting connected with the `aina.

The team also highlighted its summer institute program, which this year focused on resources of the north coast, and its long-term project – working on lo`i restoration in Halawa.

Ripple Effect
Ending the mahalos was Desiree Puhi, executive director of Molokai Community Health Center (MCHC), and her extensive team. As she and MCHC Medical Director Kawika Liu took the floor, all ears honed in to hear what’s next in store.

While the health center has been undergoing transformations since the purchase of Pau Hana Inn in 2009 – where many services will eventually be offered – its future goals have never looked more concrete.

Liu gave a brief presentation on exciting things to come including a mobile van which will extend services to the island’s west and east ends; a place for the community to gather for live music and healthy snacks; a web connection to the clinic; and availability for walk-ins.

“It’s not just a doctor’s office or dentist office,” Liu said. “It’s a health center that will improve the mind, body and spirit of Molokai people. And the money given to us is making a big difference.”

A well-known OHA grantee, MCHC hopes to move toward the goal of fostering both good health and economy for the island.

“The dream is to make each day the best day,” Lui said.

“[MCHC] has to be driven by foundation,” added Trustee Lindsey. “I support it whole-heartedly.”

OHA in the Future
This year, OHA briefly touched on activities and gave a general overview of its 2010-2016 strategic plan.

For the next six years, OHA aims to make certain issues facing Native Hawaiians their top priorities including: economic self-sufficiency, land and water, education, governance, culture and health. With these priorities in the forefront, OHA hopes to produce results through advocacy, research and asset management as a major part of its plan.


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