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OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs


This is an election year and so it’s another opportunity for you to help select aspiring leaders for our community who you believe will provide pono leadership and who have the experience and vision to address the issues that affect us all.

Civic engagement is part of our kuleana as Native Hawaiians. Every vote counts – let your vote help build a better future for our keiki.

And thanks to the shift to mail-in ballots, voting is easier and more convenient than ever before!

Charter Amendment Questions 

A brief description of the 2022 General Election Proposed Amendments on the county ballots that may be of interest to the Native Hawaiian community.

Hawai‘i County

Hawai‘i County has three proposals one interesting proposal would establish a Youth Commission, made up of youth and young adults to be civically engaged and impactful in county matters.


Honolulu County

Honolulu has 4 charter amendments. The amendment of interest would require the Planning Commission have a representative on the commission experienced specifically in traditional Native Hawaiian customary practices, law, or traditional Hawaiian land usage among three other commissioners with experience in planning, land development and climate change.

Maui County

Maui has 15 proposals total, but there are a few of significant interest regarding housing, cultural resources and water management.

The first proposed amendment on the Maui ballot is about creating a department for affordable housing and working with the Department of Hawaiian Homelands.

The second amendment proposes creating a department of ‘Ōiwi (native) Resources that would ensure proper management of cultural resources, including the Hawaiian language, place names, historical and archival materials, cultural sites, iwi and burials, and natural resources used in cultural practices. The proposal would also affirm that the County will operate as a bilingual government (English and Hawaiian).

Question 12 proposes a creation of Maui County Community Water Authorities, made up of regional community boards, regional directors, grant writers, community liaisons, water system technical analysts, and necessary staff to manage water collection and delivery systems.

The Water Authorities would pursue long-term water lease agreements with DLNR to provide a reliable supply of water for domestic and agricultural needs and provide water to the department of water supply. The water authority would develop and implement a watershed management plan for each watershed and a long-term capital improvement and annual maintenance plan for the regional water collection and delivery systems.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (“DLNR”) Land Division issues 30-year water lease agreements to license areas. The East Maui Irrigation Company, LLC (“EMI”) is applying for a 30-year water lease. Mahi Pono Holdings, LLC, and Alexander and Baldwin, have 50 percent interest in EMI. Mahi Pono Holdings LLC’s sole investor and member-owner is one of Canada’s largest pension fund managers, Public Sector Pension Investment. An approval of a 30-year water lease to EMI would place a significant amount of Maui County’s water resources under the control of a foreign, for-profit investor entity.

This is the county’s concern of issuing long-term water leases to private, for-profit entities. As a government agency, the collective Maui County Community Water Authorities would have an unambiguous obligation to uphold the public trust doctrine and the legal obligations of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act and the State of Hawai‘i Constitution. They would have the ability to manage and upgrade the water delivery systems and to protect local watersheds.


To see the full list of 2022 Ballot Amendment Questions by county click here.


OHA Trustee Candidate Results from the 2022 Hawai‘i Primary Election

This election year, six of the nine seats of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ (OHA) Board of Trustees (BOT) are up for election.

OHA’s BOT is made up of nine elected officials who serve four-year terms. Five of the seats represent specific islands: Kauaʻi/Niʻihau; Oʻahu; Maui; Molokaʻi/Lānaʻi; and Hawaiʻi Island. Four of the seats are “At-Large.”

Maui & Oʻahu Trustees

This year, incumbent Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey, trustee for the island of Maui and current BOT chair, ran unopposed and as such, was declared legally and duly elected following the candidate filing deadline in June.

Incumbent Akaka won the position outright in the primary election with 56% of the votes cast.

Hawaiʻi Island Trustee Candidates

Because there are only two candidates for the Hawaiʻi Island seat – incumbent Mililani Trask and challenger Hope A. Cermelj – their names did not appear on primary election ballots. Instead, both candidates advance to the general election ballot.


“At-Large” Trustee Candidates (Three seats)

The top six candidates listed below (in order of votes received in the primary), will be on the general election ballot. The three candidates receiving the most votes in the November general election will take the “At-Large” trustee seats.

Brickwood Galuteria – 92,028
John D. Waiheʻe, IV – 80,491
Leinaʻala Ahu Isa –  69,639
Chad Owens –  67,032
Keoni Souza – 63,025
Sam K. King – 55,549

Ka Wai Ola News article OHA Board of Trustees Primary Election Summary 2022 PRIMARY ELECTION results 

Plan to Vote

Step 1: Register To Vote

The recommended day to register by is October 31st, with an absolute deadline of November 8th at a Voter Service Center in person. Go to olvr.hawaii.gov to check your current registration status and/or to register online.

Step 2: Research The Candidates

Get informed on where the candidates stand on issues of importance – General Election OHA Trustee & Gubernatorial Candidates 

In preparation for the general election, we encourage our readers to review the OHA  BOT candidate surveys that were printed in the August issue of Ka Wai Ola.

Here are the links to the survey responses for each of the remaining eight OHA BOT candidates (At-Large and Hawaiʻi Island):

· Leinaʻala Ahu Isa
· Hope A. Cermelj: Did not participate in survey
· Brickwood Galuteria
· Sam K. King
· Chad Owens
· Keoni Souza: Did not participate in survey
· Mililani B. Trask
· John D. Waiheʻe, IV

Step 3: Look For Your Ballot In The Mail

Delivery of ballot packages begins on October 21st.

Step 4: Complete Your Ballot

Watch the “Hawaiʻi Votes” video for instructions on how to complete your mail-in ballot properly, ensuring it will be free from errors.

Step 5: Mail or Drop Off Your Ballot

Place your ballot in the mail by November 1st. Voted ballots must be received by no later than 7:00 pm on November 8th.


Aloha Rising. Vote 2020 Campaign.
Aloha Rising. Vote 2020. is a new campaign designed to engage young, first time Native Hawaiian voters. In the months leading up to the 2020 Primary and General Elections, we will be sharing information on how to register to vote and how to vote with the new mail-in ballot system. We also want to make sure new voters are making informed decisions when they cast their ballot, so we will be sharing candidate responses to issues that affect the lāhui and encourage voters to tune in to candidate debates so you can vote for the candidates that align with your stances on the issues that affect our way of life in Hawaiʻi nei.

Collaboration with Haku Collective

Haku Collective collab banner

What do award winning musicians Paula Fuga, Kimie Miner, Hawane Rios, Glenn Awong of Maoli, Amy Hanaialiʻi and Izik have in common? They all want you to VOTE!

Each artist shares their personal motivation in these videos and encourage others to have a voice in shaping our future by voting in Hawaiʻi’s 2020 General Election. Learn more about OHA’s Aloha Rising campaign partnership with Haku Collective artists here.

Get your ballots in the mail by Oct. 27. Same day voter registration and voting is also available. Visit olvr.hawaii.gov for details.

Step 1: Register to Vote

Online registration ended on Oct. 5th. However, same-day voter registration is available at Voter Service Centers throughout the pae ʻāina. Go to olvr.hawaii.gov for details. 

Step 2: Become an Educated Voter

>> View your personalized Primary Election ballot

The Office of Elections has free online previews of your official ballot, which lists the candidates in your area.

>> Research the candidates

Get informed on where the candidates stand on issues of importance. Visit KaWaiOla.News to learn about the candidates and which ones align with your views.

Hear from the top candidates vying for your vote in the General Election: Read the Ka Wai Ola 2020 General Election Guide in the Oct. 2020 issue.

Ka Wai Ola surveyed all of the Primary Election candidates in all Hawaiʻi races to find out where they stand on the issues that affect you: Read the Ka Wai Ola Primary Election Guide in the July 2020 issue.

>> Watch Candidate Forums

Before you vote in the 2020 General Election find out where the candidates stand on important issues that affect you and all of Hawaiʻi.

This 2-hour event aired on KHON2 and KHII, and KHON2.com on Thurs., Oct. 8th, and will re-air on Sunday, October 11th at 8pm on KHII. This Virtual Town Hall features candidates in the following races:

Hawaiʻi Island and Honolulu Mayors

Congressional District #1 and #2

Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney

The voter education event was sponsored by the Center for Native Hawaiian Advancement, Kamehameha Schools, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and moderated by KHON2 anchor and investigative reporter Gina Mangieri.

On Oct. 1, 2020, PBS Hawai‘i hosted this important conversation between the six OHA Trustee Candidates on the issues affecting Native Hawaiians and OHA.

Hawaiʻi County Mayor candidates Ikaika Marzo and Mitch Roth discuss the issues affecting Hawaiʻi Island.

OHA Trustee Candidate Forums: July 2020
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has partnered with ʻŌiwi TV to bring you three live-streamed OHA Trustee candidate forums. It is your opportunity to learn about the OHA Trustee candidates in all FOUR races, their experience, and their positions so you can make an informed decision in the 2020 elections. The forums aired on July 2, 9 & 14 at 6pm on oha.org/aloharising and on the OHA Facebook page.


Meet the Hawaiʻi Island Trustee Candidates

Meet 10 of the candidates running for Hawaiʻi Island Trustee: Kauilani Almeida, Noelani Cashman-Aiu, Laura DeSoto-McCollough, Louis Hao, Cyd Hoffeld, Pua Ishibashi, Lei Kihoi, Keola Lindsey, Lanakila Mangauil and Kalaniakea Wilson.

Meet the Moloka’i and Kaua’i Trustee Candidates

Meet the three Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi Trustee Candidates: Luana Alapa, Uʻi Kahue-Cabanting and Colette Machado; and the three Kauaʻi and Niʻihau candidates: Dan Ahuna, Brittny Perez and Kamealoha Smith.

Meet the At-Large Trustee Candidates

Meet the candidates running for OHA At-Large: Keliʻi Akina, Jackie Burke, Kaipo Hanakahi, Larry Kawaauhau, Shane Akoni Palacat-Nelsen, Keoni Souza. Voters from all islands can vote for the At-Large Trustee.

Step 3: Vote By Mail

Beginning with the 2020 Elections, Hawaiʻi votes by mail and all registered voters will automatically receive their ballot in the mail.

Ballot Mail Out Schedule:

City and County of Honolulu: October 5 & 6, 2020

County of Hawaiʻi: October 7, 2020

County of Maui: October 8, 2020

County of Kauaʻi: October 9, 2020

Contact your County Elections Division if you have not received your ballot by October 16, 2020.

Mail your ballot back by: October 27, 2020. After this date, voters must return their ballot to a place of deposit (ballot drop box). All voted ballots must be received by your Clerk’s Office no later than 7:00 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020.

How to Vote By Mail

1 - Ballot
Before voting your ballot, review instructions and the contests and candidates on both sides of the ballot. To vote, completely darken in the box to the left of the candidate using a black or blue pen.
2 - Secret Ballot Envelope
After voting your ballot, re-fold it and seal it in the secret ballot envelope. The secret ballot envelope ensures your right to secrecy as the ballots are opened and prepared for counting. Once sealed, place the secret ballot envelope in the return envelope.

3 - Return Envelope
Read the affirmation statement and sign the return envelope before returning it to the Clerk’s Office. Upon receipt of your return envelope, the Clerk’s Office validates the signature on the envelope. After your signature is validated your ballot will be counted.

Returning your voted ballot by mail:
The return envelope is postage paid via the U.S. Postal Service and addressed to your Clerk’s Office. Mail your ballot back by: October 27, 2020. After this date, voters must return their ballot to a place of deposit (ballot drop box). All voted ballots must be received by your Clerk’s Office no later than 7:00 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020.

Watch the Aloha Rising Webinar Series

The online civic engagement workshop series is one component of OHA’s Aloha Rising Vote 2020 campaign to increase civic engagement amongst Native Hawaiians. The first installment of the weekly one-hour program aired in May and June 2020 was presented in partnership with Kanaeokana, and featured Kumu Hina sharing mele and community experts discussing the history of civic engagement amongst the Native Hawaiian community. A broad range of topics shared ʻōiwi civic engagement and history through a cultural lens. Each program ended with a mele that all participants can join together and sing. In July, the focus of the Aloha Rising Webinar Series shifted to the OHA Trustee Candidates and moved to an evening program. See above for details.

The second installment of series aired Sept. 3 – Oct. 1, 2020 covered issues affecting the lāhui today, including the proper treatment of iwi kūpuna, maintaining mauli ola (health) during the pandemic, economic self sufficiency and affordable housing.

Aloha Rising aired on the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Facebook and our partner pages on Thursdays at 2pm. The webinars were also accessed via Zoom at oha.org/aloharising. Stay tuned for a new series of programming. Catch up on our full list of Aloha Rising Webinars listed below.

Episode #1 – May 7, 2020

A Historical Overview of ʻŌiwi Civic Engagement with Davis Price and mele with Kumu Hina.

Episode #2 – May 14, 2020

Land Tenure and Leadership in Ancient Hawaiʻi vs Today with Kamana Beamer and new mele with Kumu Hina.

Episode #3 – May 21, 2020

ʻOnipaʻa Mau: Political Organizing and Engagement of Native Hawaiians in the Territorial Era with Kawika Burgess and a review of past mele with Kumu Hina.

Episode #4 – May 28, 2020

Huliau Hou i Ke Aloha ʻĀina: Political Organizing in the Hawaiian Renaissance and the 1978 Con-Con with Gov. John Waiheʻe & Kumu Hina.

Episode #5 – June 4, 2020

Addressing recent civil unrest, police brutality and racism with Professor Ken Lawson, Co-Director of the Hawai‘i Innocence Project at the William S. Richardson Law School where he teaches Civil Rights Clinic and Criminal Law.

Episode #6 – June 11, 2020

Exercising Community Voice: Opinion-Editorial Writing with Trisha Kehaulani Watson, J.D., Ph. D. and more original mele with Kumu Hina.

Episode #7 – June 18, 2020

Connecting Kuleana Through Mele Workshop: Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong will be teaches the mele Kū Haʻaheo a kuʻu Hawaiʻi (Stand tall my Hawaiʻi).

Episode #8 – June 25, 2020

Andre Perez discusses the history of activism & non-violent direct action in Hawaiʻi and Kumu Hina shares Mele Kaulana Wale Kuʻu ʻĀina ʻo Kalihi.

Episode #9 – July 23, 2020

Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong and Davis Price discuss the mail-in voting process and the kuleana to vote in this yearʻs election.

Episode #10 – September 3, 2020

The Environmental Law Program at the William S. Richardson School of Law, UH Mānoa, is joining Aloha Rising to offer an informative discussion on the “Protect Hakipuʻu” effort and delve into our collective kuleana to ensure proper stewarship of ʻĀina Kūpuna.

Episode #11 – September 10, 2020

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs presents a panel discussion on kānaka physical, spiritual, and mental health during COVID-19 with leading Native Hawaiian health care practitioners:

 Dr. Kalani Brady, Dr. Aukahi Austin-Seabury, Kumu Pōmaikaʻi Freed.

Episode #12 – September 17, 2020

A discussion on Iwi Tapu and Island Burial Councils with Halealoha Ayau and Hinaleimoana Wong, hosted by Mehanaokala Hind.

Episode #13 – September 24, 2020

Listen in as Rebecca Soon, Tyler I. Gomes and Gavin Thornton discuss Hawaii’s Housing Crisis, affordable housing solutions to tackle the problem, and our role in realizing positive change.

Episode #14 – October 1, 2020

Discussion on building Hawaii’s economic future through an ʻōiwi perspective.

Aloha Rising Survey Results

OHA’s Aloha Rising series launched with an online survey on January 15, 2020, Opening Day at the Hawai‘i State Legislature. Our goal was to hear directly from the community. The survey was open from January 15 to February 15 and the question was posed: what’s important to you? Over 2,700 people participated in the survey with 88% self-identifying as Native Hawaiian or Part Hawaiian. Responses came from across Hawai‘i, from 41 states on the continent, and from three U.S. territories. According to our survey results:

88% of respondents plan on voting this year

Most respondents (78%) participated in a Hawaiian cultural activity within the past year

The average rating of elected officials’ decisions was 2.17 (out of 5), or “Extremely Dissatisfied”

Most important Hawai‘i issues: 1) Affordable homeownership; 2) Proper management of land and water resources; 3) Native Hawaiian representation in government; 4) Poverty in Hawai’i; and 5) Access to Hawaiian Homelands

Half of the respondents did not know about Hawai‘i’s new all-mail-in voting process

Guided by the results of this survey, the Aloha Rising Vote 2020 campaign aims to encourage more Native Hawaiians to vote and to participate in the political process. Our efforts will take place throughout the year leading up to the primary and general elections, being held on August 8 and November 3, respectively. In light of COVID-19 concerns, Aloha Rising educational activities are being reconfigured to take advantage of online sharing platforms. Whether the events are hosted digitally or in-person, the information shared will focus on the cultural importance of community building and political participation with sharing of mo‘olelo and mele by Kumu Hina; and a practical training on mail-in voting.

Remember: 2020 is the first year that Hawai‘i is doing all-mail-in ballots for both the primary and general elections. Be sure to register to vote and that your current address is registered to ensure that you receive your ballot in the mail. Also, keep in mind that precinct polling locations will not exist this year, and walk-in voting will only be available at specific locations during specific times.

Your vote is your voice in what you think Hawaiʻi’s future should be, how our traditions and resources should be sustained, and who are the best people to lead us. Simply put: Hawaiian voters means that Hawaiian issues will be addressed by our legislators. Your voice is part of a chorus, calling for a strong and vibrant lāhui.

Archive: 2018 Get out the vote campaign

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