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OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs

A consortium of Native Hawaiian leaders with deep roots in the community will facilitate a nation building process to move Hawaiians a step closer to self determination. Na'i Aupuni, top Left to Right: Kealoha Ballesteros, Gerry Miyamoto, Lehua Schuelke. Bottom Left to Right: J. Kūhiō Asam, Pauline Namuʻo. Na‘i Aupuni is separate and independent from OHA and the State of Hawaii.

Native Hawaiian community leaders to take helm of nation building process

HONOLULU – A consortium of Native Hawaiian leaders with deep roots in the community will facilitate a nation building process to move Hawaiians a step closer to self determination. The leaders have formed Na‘i Aupuni, a Native Hawaiian organization, that has signed a grant agreement with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to facilitate nation building. Under the terms of the agreement, Na‘i Aupuni will make its own autonomous decisions while OHA will fund the process.

“This is an encouraging sign for our efforts to empower Native Hawaiians to determine their own future through a process that is open to all of them,” said OHA Chairperson Robert K. Lindsey Jr.

The nation building effort was first announced following a March 6, 2014 vote of the Board of Trustees.  OHA then held a series of meetings with the leadership of various organizations founded by Hawaiian ali‘i. The separate, independent entity, Na‘i Aupuni, is a consortium of Native Hawaiian leaders who have stepped forward from among the ranks of these ali‘i founded-organizations to facilitate Hawaiian nation building.

Na‘i Aupuni will oversee the solicitation of third-party expert organizations to administer a three-stage nation building process: a Native Hawaiian election of delegates; a convening (“ʻaha”) of those delegates to draft a proposed governing document; and lastly, a ratification vote by which Native Hawaiians will collectively approve or disapprove of the draft governing document. In addition, Na‘i Aupuni will select an independent monitor to oversee the election and ratification. While Na‘i Aupuni will facilitate the process, every major decision – who is elected, what the draft governing document will say, and whether it is approved – will be determined by the Native Hawaiian people.

Na‘i Aupuni’s directors are unpaid volunteers. They will not run for office within the nation building process.  OHA does not have any decision-making authority in the nation building process.

The directors of Na‘i Aupuni are:

  • Dr. James Kūhiō Asam, President
  • Pauline Nakoʻolani Namu‘o, Vice President
  • Naomi Kealoha Ballesteros, Secretary/Treasurer
  • Geraldine Abbey Miyamoto
  • Selena Lehua Schuelke

Naʻi Aupuni’s website is: naiaupuni.org

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