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OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Niniau Kawaihae

Ka Pou Kihi Kiʻi
Community Engagement Director

Photo: Niniau Kawaihae

Niniau Kawaihae was named OHA’s Director of Community Engagement (Ka Pou Kihi Lono) in February of 2024.

Kawaihae’s responsibilities include overseeing OHA’s grants program, which supports Hawaiʻi based nonprofit organizations that have projects, programs, and initiatives that serve the lāhui in alignment with the agency’s Mana i Mauli Ola strategic plan. She also leads the agency’s Beneficiary Services division, which provides direct assistance to beneficiaries to assist in navigating community-based services and resources.

Kawaihae previously served the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, where she was a special assistant responsible for securing broadband licenses from the FCC for trust lands on the neighbor islands. Prior to that, she supported DHHL as the agency manager of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996 (NAHASDA). She is also a former deputy director of the Office of Housing and Community Development for the County of Hawaiʻi.

Born and raised on Moku o Keawe, Kawaihae carries a political science degree from UH-Hilo and a master’s in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University. She is a former Harry S. Truman Scholar, a mother of five and grandmother of six.