OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Burial Councils

OHA Seeks Island Burial Council Candidates

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) continuously seeks qualified candidates to recommend to the governor as nominees for appointment to fill vacancies on the island burial councils. The deadline to be considered for OHA nomination to fill a regional representative seat vacancy on an Island Burial Council in any given year is September 1. We accept applications for all regions, year-round. We frequently recommend nominees for seats which are currently filled by a member whose term will expire the following year. Moreover, occasionally, we recommend that the Governor appoint more than one representative from a certain region.

Island Burial Councils

There are five island burial councils serving the following areas: Hawaiʻi, Maui/Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi, Oʻahu and Kauaʻi/Niʻihau. Each council consists of nine members (*with the exception of Moloka‘i). Every council must have at least one representative for each of six regions and up to three landowner/developer representatives. *Moloka‘i Island Burial Council consists of five members, including at least one representative for each of three regions and up to one landowner/developer representative.

Hawaiʻi Island Burial Council

  • Kona
  • Puna
  • Ka’u
  • Hamakua
  • Hilo
  • Kohala- VACANT
  • Landowner/Developer- VACANT (1)

Kauaʻi and Niʻihau Islands Burial Council

  • Waimea/Na Pali
  • Koloa
  • Hanalei- VACANT
  • Lihuʻe- VACANT
  • Kawaihau- VACANT
  • Niʻihau
  • Landowner/Developer

Maui and Lānaʻi Islands Burial Council

  • Makawao
  • Lahaina
  • Honuaʻula
  • Wailuku
  • Lanaʻi- VACANT
  • Hana- VACANT
  • Landowner/Developer

Oʻahu Island Burial Council

  • Ewa
  • Koʻolauloa
  • Koʻolaupoko
  • Waiʻianae
  • Kona
  • Waialua
  • Landowner/Developer- VACANT (2)

Molokaʻi Island Burial Council

  • Kalawao- VACANT
  • East Molokai- VACANT
  • Central Molokai
  • West Molokai
  • Landowner/Developer- VACANT

Kuleana of Island Burial Councils

The island burial councils play a crucial role in the care of iwi kūpuna (ancestral remains) found in Native Hawaiian burial sites. Island burial council members meet on a monthly basis to:

  • Determine whether previously identified Native Hawaiian burial sites will be preserved in place or relocated.
  • Assist the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and its State Historic Preservation Division in developing an inventory of Native Hawaiian burial sites.
  • Make recommendations regarding appropriate management, treatment, and protection of Native Hawaiian burial sites, and on any other matters related to Native Hawaiian burial sites.

Nomination, Appointment, and Confirmation Process

OHA solicits candidates year round and considers applications each year, in the fall.  Nominees are selected, approved by the OHA Board of Trustees, and transmitted to the Governor by December 1.  By law, at least two regional representatives on each of the island burial councils must be selected from a list of candidates provided by OHA.  The Governor appoints members to the island burial councils from lists developed by OHA and DLNR, usually in the early part of the year, and submits his appointees for Senate confirmation during the legislative session.  The Senate Committee on Hawaiian Affairs will hold a public hearing to receive public testimony on each of the appointees and will make a recommendation to the full Senate who will then vote whether to advise and consent to the appointments.  The Senate must confirm all Governor-appointed island burial council members during the legislative session at the time of or immediately following their appointment.

OHA IBC Nomination Application

OHA submits a nomination list to fill current and impending vacancies annually. Our goal is to ensure that all regional representative positions are filled so that the island burial councils are able to meet quorum requirements and fulfill their important kuleana. OHA seeks candidates not only to fill current vacancies, but who are willing to serve should an unexpected vacancy occur.

OHA will evaluate candidates based on their ability to represent a given region and to demonstrate an “understanding of Hawaiian culture, history, customs, practices, and in particular, beliefs and practices relating to the care and protection of Native Hawaiian burial sites and ancestral remains and burial goods” (Section 6E-43.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes). Those interested in being recommended by OHA must also affirm their commitment to participating actively in monthly burial council meetings and occasional site visits.

If you would like to be considered for OHA IBC nomination, please the following to kamailem@oha.org:

Resume: Please send us a resume outlining your relevant experience with burials and/or burials law and policy.

Letter of interest: Please submit a letter discussing your interest in and qualifications, including each of the following:

  1. Interest: Why would you like to serve on your IBC?
  2. Region: What region(s) are you applying to represent?  What is your connection to the geographic region(s)? 
  3. Experience: Discuss any community, cultural, professional, and/or personal experience relevant to your qualifications to serve on your IBC.  Describe any experience or background you have with Hawaiian culture, history, customs, practices and, in particular, beliefs and traditions relating to the care for and protection of Native Hawaiian ancestral remains, burial sites, and burial goods.
  4. Commitment: Please discuss your ability and commitment to attend monthly meetings during normal business hours and additional site visits as necessary.

Apply by September 1st for appointment and confirmation in the next legislative session.

For additional information please contact kamailem@oha.org.

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