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OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs

About

OHA is a semi-autonomous state agency responsible for improving the wellbeing of all Native Hawaiians (regardless of blood quantum). The agency is governed by a Board of Trustees, made up of nine members who are elected statewide to serve four-year terms and set organizational policy. 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.

OHA works to improve the wellbeing of Native Hawaiians through advocacy, research, community engagement, land management and the funding of community programs.

The need for an office dedicated to the well-being of all Hawaiians was born out of activism in the 1970s to right past wrongs suffered by Native Hawaiians for over 100 years. At the Hawaiian Constitutional Convention of 1978, Native Hawaiians such as Aunty Frenchy DeSoto and John Waiheʻe advocated to establish OHA, an agency that would use income from land taken from the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom to benefit Hawaiians. This was passed by voters of all backgrounds in 1978.

The OHA headquarters are located in Iwilei, Oʻahu. OHA Community Resource Centers are also located on Kauaʻi, Maui, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, and East Hawaiʻi (Hilo) and West Hawaiʻi (Kona).

In 2021, OHA celebrated the 40th anniversary of the first investiture of trustees held on Jan. 17, 1981, at ʻIolani Palace.

Nuʻukia (Vision)

Hoʻoulu Lāhui Aloha
To raise a beloved lāhui

Ala Nuʻukia (Mission)

To mālama Hawaiʻi’s people and environmental resources, and OHA’s assets, toward ensuring the perpetuation of the culture, the enhancement of lifestyle and the protection of entitlements of Native Hawaiians, while enabling the building of a strong and healthy Hawaiian people and lāhui, recognized nationally and internationally.

E hoʻomalu i ko Hawaiʻi kanaka me ona mau waiwai honua a pau – pau pū nō me ko ke Keʻena mau waiwai lewa me nā waiwai paʻa iho no – e ō aku ai ka nohona moʻomeheu, e ‘oi aku ai ka nohona kū i ka wā, a e malu iho ai ka nohona welo ‘oilina ma ka mea e ho‘oiaupa ‘i mau a ‘e ai he lāhui lamalama i ‘ike ‘ia kona kanaka mai ‘ō a ‘o a ka poepoe honua nei he kanaka ehuehu, he kanaka hoʻohuliāmahi, he kanaka Hawaiʻi.

Overview

OHA enhances Hawaiian wellbeing by collaborating with various organizations to strengthen our community’s resources. We annually provide Native Hawaiian students $500,000 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, OHA’s Grants Program is integral in funding programs and services that are aligned to OHA’s strategic plan that improve Native Hawaiian wellbeing. OHA annually awards more than $12 million statewide to programs that advance OHA’s strategic plan.

The needs of the Hawaiian people are many, and OHA cannot achieve its vision of raising a beloved lāhui alone. OHA seeks to work with specific community collaborators to impact positive change in the areas of education, health, housing and economics and strives to connect all organizations and entities that serve the lāhui.

Watch Kukulu Hou: Rebuilding a Nation a film that provides a historical overview of OHA’s origins.

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