OHA Trustees Visit the Molokai History Project

Photo by Jack Kiyonaga

When the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) conducted their annual board of trustees meeting on Molokai last Wednesday, they took the opportunity to visit a new Molokai institution dedicated to preserving old ways: the Molokai History Project. Founded in October 2023, the Molokai History Project museum has grown to encompass rotating exhibits and visitors from across the world, but the OHA trustees were a first.

“This is the largest group that we’ve had,” explained Judy Mertens, a founder of the Molokai History Project. OHA “contacted us and said that they’d heard about the museum and would like a tour.”

The full board of trustees, including staff, along with kupuna from Alu Like, gathered in the courtyard behind the museum to honor the occasion.

“I think it’s fascinating,” said Luana Alapa, the trustee for Molokai and Lanai to OHA. “To see it in person makes a big difference.”

The Molokai History Project is currently showcasing a paniolo exhibit, honoring generations of Molokai cowboys and paniolo culture.

“They’re doing an amazing job,” said Alapa. “Most importantly, it’s preserving what used to be here.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity to promote [the Molokai History Project] to others,” she explained. “So, when people do come to Molokai, this should be their first stop.”

The OHA Board of Trustees meeting occurred later that day, Wednesday, May 15, up at the Lanikeha Center. OHA trustees outlined current financial support on Molokai, which amounts to 16 active grantees receiving over $600,000, and 27 microloan recipients totaling upwards of $500,000.

Some Molokai organizations like Sust’ainable Molokai, Na Pu’uwai, Molokai Community Health Center, PoMahina Designs and Ka Ohana o Kalaupapa had a chance to present before the board as well.


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