ASSOCIATION OF HAWAIIAN CIVIC CLUBS
No. 2017 – 36
AFFIRMING SUPPORT FOR ARTICLE XII, SECTION 5 OF THE HAWAI‘I STATE CONSTITUTION REQUIRING THAT THE OFFICE OF HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS TRUSTEES BE ELECTED
WHEREAS, Article XII, Section 5 of the Hawai‘i State Constitution states:
“There is hereby established an Office of Hawaiian Affairs. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs shall hold title to all the real and personal property now or hereafter set aside or conveyed to it which shall be held in trust for native Hawaiians and Hawaiians. There shall be a board of trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs elected by qualified voters who are Hawaiians, as provided by law. The board members shall be Hawaiians. There shall be not less than nine members of the board of trustees; provided that each of the following Islands have one representative: Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Molokai and Hawaii. The board shall select a chairperson from its members. [Add Const Con 1978 and election Nov 7, 1978]; and
WHEREAS, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) was created as an independent agency built on the goal of Native Hawaiian autonomy and self-determination; and
WHEREAS, this is best articulated by the 1978 Constitutional Convention Hawaiian Affairs Committee in its Standing Committee Report No. 59 that outlines the primary principle which committee members wanted to ensure through its creation of OHA was the right of Hawaiians to elect their Hawaiian leaders and Hawaiian control of Hawaiian trust assets as a seeming response to the overthrow of the lawful government of Hawai‘i in 1895 by the United States; and
WHEREAS, in Arakaki v. State, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck the statutory and constitutional provisions limiting who could run for and be elected to OHA solely to those of Hawaiian ancestry; and
WHEREAS, the Ninth Circuit held that disqualifying those who were not of Hawaiian ancestry from running for a position as an OHA trustee compromised potential votersʻ Fifteenth Amendment rights and therefore was unconstitutional; and
WHEREAS, since the decision in Arakaki, non-Hawaiians are now eligible to run for and be elected as OHA trustees; and
WHEREAS, while it is true that in February of 2000, the United States Supreme Court, in the Rice v. Cayetano decision struck down the State of Hawai‘i’s provisions restricting OHA elections to those of Hawaiian ancestry on the grounds that it violated the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, nevertheless, taking away the voting power of Native Hawaiians further erodes their self-determination; and
WHEREAS, elected trustees over past decades have moved OHA from a fledgling entity to a multi-faceted agency that provides beneficiaries with an array of programs and services in such areas as health, housing stability, economic well-being, education, land and culture.
WHEREAS, there have been discussions at the Hawaiʻi State Legislature about whether the manner of selecting and seating OHA trustees could be improved on by modifying Hawaiʻi’s constitution to have OHA trustees appointed, rather than elected
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs at its 58th Annual Convention in Seattle, Washington, in the malama of ʻIkuwā and the rising of Māhealani, this 4th day of November 2017, affirming Article XII, Section 5, requiring that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees be elected; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a certified copy of this resolution be transmitted to the Governor of the State of Hawai‘i, President of the State Senate, Speaker of the State House of Representatives, Chair of the State Senate Committee on Hawaiian Affairs, Chair of the State House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources, & Hawaiian Affairs, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and all County Mayors.
The undersigned hereby certifies that the foregoing Resolution was duly adopted in the malama of ʻIkuwā and the rising of Māhealani on the 4th day of November 2017, at the 58th Annual Convention of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs in Seattle, Washington.
Annelle C. Amaral, President