Seven Voters’ Myths about the Office of Hawaiian Affairs

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By Keli’i Akina, Ph.D. –

  • Myth:  Only Hawaiians can vote for OHA trustees.  Fact:  All State of Hawaii registered voters, regardless of race, have the right and duty to vote for OHA trustees.
  • Myth:  Only Hawaiians can run to become OHA trustees.  Fact: Any State of Hawaii citizen, regardless of race, can run for OHA trustee.
  • Myth: OHA is a Hawaiian organization.  Fact: OHA is a state agency created by Hawaii’s voting public to carry out the public’s duty to Hawaiians and society in general.  OHA differs in this respect from private Hawaiian organizations that serve a largely exclusive Hawaiian clientele such as the Kamehameha Schools and other family trusts.
  • Myth:  OHA trustees are the leaders of the Hawaiian people.  Fact:  There are more than 125 native Hawaiian organizations, most of which do not look to OHA trustees as their leaders.  Hawaiians are not a “tribe” represented by OHA trustees as tribal heads.
  • Myth:  OHA’s legal mission is to establish a race-based sovereign Hawaiian nation.   Fact: OHA’s current trustees have exceeded their legal mandate and have departed from both traditional Hawaiian and American Democratic values by their advocacy of a race-based nation.
  • Myth: OHA is a marginal organization, irrelevant to mainstream Hawaii citizens.  Fact:  Over the past several years OHA has become a major power-broker with growing land-holdings and revenue streams.  It has established an escalating practice of aggressive legal action to assert its will in government, private sector and cultural matters.
  • Myth:  It’s hard to know who to vote for as OHA trustee.  Fact:  Community groups, including neighborhood boards and colleges have sponsored forums and interviews of OHA candidates, many of which can be viewed on the Internet.  A quick and simple way to become informed is to watch candidates on  or  and then visit the websites of the candidates whose views you may support.

The author has written several articles with examples and documentation of the above facts for those who wish to study further.


Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., is a professor who lectures on human rights and business ethics in Chinese and American universities.  Dr. Akina is currently a candidate for Trustee-at-Large in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.  His website is and his e-mail address is