OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Learn about the history and events that led up to the creation of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in 1980. See how OHA is fulfilling it's kuleana by advocating for Native Hawaiians, providing resources, and facilitating collaboration.

About

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is a public agency with a high degree of autonomy. OHA is responsible for improving the well-being of Native Hawaiians. OHA is governed by a Board of Trustees made up of nine members who are elected statewide to serve four-year terms setting policy for the agency. OHA is administered by a Chief Executive Officer (Ka Pouhana) who is appointed by the Board of Trustees to oversee a staff of about 170 people.

History

OHA grew out of organized efforts in the 1970s to right past wrongs suffered by Native Hawaiians for over 100 years. Hawaiians’ newfound activism brought their plight to the consciousness of the general public, leading grassroots leaders to propose, at the time, that income from land taken from the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom be used to benefit Hawaiians. After voters of all backgrounds agreed, OHA was born in 1978.

Overview

OHA enhances Hawaiian well-being by collaborating with various organizations to strengthen our community’s resources. We annually provide Native Hawaiian students more than $800,000 in scholarship money to help pay for college. We have given out more than $34 million in loans within the past 10 years to help Native Hawaiians start businesses, improve homes, consolidate debts and continue their education. In addition, we have awarded an estimated $16 million to various organizations aiding Hawaiians, including Hawaiian-focused charter schools, Papa Ola Lōkahi and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

Similarly, we have collaborated in advocating on Hawaiian issues, as with the Nā Wai ʻEhā streams that are flowing again after 100 years. With community leaders and an expert legal team, we set an important precedent for streams across our islands—supporting Hawaiian lifestyles, stream and ocean life, and aquifers that provide drinking water for us all.

A New Direction

By providing resources, advocating for Native Hawaiians, and facilitating collaboration, OHA is fulfilling its vision to raise a beloved nation. Read more about OHA’s Strategic Plan

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