Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 13 Primary Election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities will be if elected.
The following came from Brickwood Galuteria, candidate for Office of Hawaiian Affairs at-large trustee. The other candidates for three seats include Z. Ka’apana Aki, Julian Ako, U’i Kahue-Cabanting, Lei Ahu Isa, Sam King, Kealii Makekau, Chad Owens, William Paik, Keoni Souza and John Waihee.
1. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing Native Hawaiians? What will you do about it?
Political effectiveness. As a legislator, I would often observe Native Hawaiians’ inability to speak in a cohesive fashion. To speak from the same playbook. Mixed signals do not bode well in politics. Conversely, as a disciplined voting bloc, policymakers have no choice but to acknowledge Kanaka concerns.
We need to strengthen, mobilize and amplify the Kanaka vote with a disciplined common theme. The ability to impact policy affects all aspects of our Hawaii community, both Kanaka Maoli and those of Hawaii.
Equally important, I’m not looking to change OHA as much as insure its original intent. OHA is acknowledged, at least by those who created it back in 1978, as the fourth branch of Hawaii state government. Co-equal to the executive, Legislature and Judiciary.
2. What would you do to bridge the gaps within the Native Hawaiian community over issues like construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope or development of energy projects?
Firstly, weigh its true value to culture and science. Secondly, ensure a fair and balanced community benefits package is part of the dialogue.
3. Do you support the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea? Why or why not? Could a new management structure help to resolve long-standing disputes?
Yes. I support both culture and science. We’ve been given a unique makana in which to explore and gaze into our own Kumulipo — creation chant. The supermassive black hole M87 was informally given the Hawaiian name “Pōwehi,” a poetic description of generative darkness or the spirit world taken from the Kumulipo. The best platform for viewing “Powehi” is Mauna Kea.
Perhaps a new management structure could help to resolve long-standing disputes. The past history of the management of the mauna by DLNR and the University of Hawaii demonstrates that the present management structure is not effective and requires substantial improvement or modification. The working group must have balance and respect for and from all members on the table. Culture and science can and must work together. It cannot be one or the other.
Any changes that occur must be viewed by the relevant stakeholders as legitimate and accompanied by the authority and funding to carry out the cultural, scientific, educational and environmental responsibilities to ensure that the most optimum balance between these interests is able to be envisioned and implemented.
4. What role should the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands play in reducing homelessness?
Firstly, move people off the waiting list. Secondly, offer beneficiaries various types of Housing solutions i.e., low-income awards and/or rentals, vertical housing (apartments, condo) etc.
This past legislative session, the Hawaii Legislature appropriated $600 million to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to get more beneficiaries off a long waiting list. The money gives DHHL the ability to buy land, develop infrastructure for homes or give out housing assistance. To that observation, see question No. 1
5. Why do you think Hawaiians are disproportionately represented in our prisons and jails? What can be done about it?
In many respects, Native Hawaiian disparities among Hawaii’s prison population are the products of actions that occur at different stages within the justice system, beginning with the decision to make the initial arrest.
First steps include making administrative or governmental resolutions to address the problem, setting goals, and collecting accurate data at various points in the criminal justice system to determine where racial disparities occur and to what degree. I also support the creation of culturally based rehabilitation programs for Native Hawaiians, which help to address the unresolved cultural trauma that too many of our Native Hawaiians caught up in the criminal justice system presently suffer from.
6. What are your views regarding Hawaiian self-determination?
Self determination is subjective. It deals with both the personal and societal perspective. Self-determination also encourages Native prosperity, which advances the economy, builds a better climate to connect and strengthen Native Hawaiian relationships, imparts Hawaiian values and organizes the Hawaiian community into a potent economic, social and political voice.
What’s good for Kanaka Maoli is good for all Hawaii. See question No. 1.
7. Is OHA getting its fair share of ceded-land revenues from the state?
No. State law and the Hawaii state constitution clearly require the state to use 20% of the revenue it receives from the public land trust for the betterment of the Native Hawaiian people, a kuleana given to OHA. The cap at $15.1 million set by a previous administration is a fraction of what’s owed.
The public land trust is made up of about 1.4 million acres of former Hawaiian Kingdom crown and government lands, also known as ceded lands. These lands are managed by DLNR and leased to airports, hospitals, government agencies and the university, just to name a few.
Last year the state brought in about $205 million in public land trust revenue. Twenty percent of that number would mean $41 million for OHA, and that number could be even more — if it were not for federal legislation exempting the state Department of Transportation from paying for the use of public trust lands for airports.
In addition, and equally important, this “honor system” of reporting ceded land revenues requires a total overhaul beginning with an overall audit of every department. For starters, we’ll take the data OHA used this last legislative session. It is the most accurate and up to date.
8. Is OHA fulfilling its mandate to serve the Hawaiian people?
Yes, and it can do more. OHA fulfills its mandate through advocacy, research, community engagement, land management and the funding of community programs. It is doing what it can to attain that mission. It can and must do more.
The reality is that OHA cannot address all disparities for all Native Hawaiians in all sectors based on the revenues it now receives and so it must use its research, its advocacy and its ability to engage all sectors to make the necessary changes. An increase in the revenues due and owing to OHA would enable OHA to commit more funds to increase the programs it is able to provide to make these changes and to address these existing economic, health, social and educational disparities.
Again, OHA is acknowledged, at least by those who created it back in 1978, as the fourth branch of Hawaii state government. Co-equal to the executive, Legislature and Judiciary. In receiving the full measure of that acknowledgement, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, in its service to Kanaka Maoli, also serves the greater Hawaii and all who call Hawaii home. Again, what is good and right for Hawaiians is good for all Hawaii.
9. Is Hawaii managing its tourism industry properly? What should be handled differently?
Under the leadership of John DeFries and the HTA board, destination management has taken on a heightened sense of urgency. HTA’s intention is clearly stated in the Tourism Strategic Plan: 2005-2015 to support the nine objectives that “honor Hawaii’s people and heritage, value and perpetuate our natural and cultural resources, and engender mutual respect among all stakeholders.”
The nine objectives, or strands, included communications and outreach, Hawaiian culture, workforce development, safety and security, research and planning, natural resources, access and product development.
When I served as chair of the combined Senate committees on Hawaiian Affairs and Tourism, I suggested to HTA Chief (at the time) Mike McCartney that we take the Hawaiian culture strand, which stood vertical with the eight others, and make it horizontal to appear in all objectives. My reasoning was that “Hawaiian Culture didn’t need a bigger seat at the table — it was the table!”
10. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed numerous flaws in Hawaii’s structure and systems, from outdated technology to economic disparity. If you could take this moment to reinvent Hawaii, to build on what we’ve learned and create a better state, a better way of doing things, what would you do? Please share One Big Idea you have for Hawaii. Be innovative, but be specific.
The pandemic has forced a serious dialogue. What did we learn in the past year and does it change the state’s priorities?
We need to reinvent the wheel. We’re looking to develop a program of action to address what has been an enormous transformation of the world as we know it. Let us prepare more Hawaii residents for the jobs Hawaii needs now and moving forward. Seed new economic sectors with new approaches to old ones developing a more resilient and diversified economy with more living-wage jobs.
Our complete reliance on tourism has proven time and again to be fragile in the face of external stressors (Covid-19, 9/11). In addition, unfettered growth has stressed our environment, infrastructure and communities.
There is no “silver bullet” that can replace tourism and industrial agriculture. Rather, we must seize every opportunity to create sustainable economic activity that is a fit for Hawaii. The One Big Idea: Diversify the economy. Not original, but necessary.