In the last week, there has been tension at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs between the Board of Trustees and the Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Kamanaʻopono M. Crabbe, concerning a letter written and sent by the latter to United States Secretary of State John Kerry. In the letter, Dr. Crabbe asked that Secretary Kerry officially request a legal opinion from the Department of Justice concerning the continued existence of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi under international law.
Immediately upon publication of the letter, Dr. Kamanaʻopono Crabbe came under attack from the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs who believed he “overstepped his authority as the Chief Executive Officer” by initiating the inquiry with the U.S. Departments of State and Justice. Chairperson Colette Y. Machado, the Trustee for Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi, described his actions as “disrespectful” to all the native Hawaiians who registered on the native Hawaiian roll.
While the Board of Trustees of the Kealamākia Foundation does not generally take a position on matters of internal dispute within other organizations – since the actions of OHA affect not only its own beneficiaries, but ours as well – the Board felt it was necessary to intervene and take a stand in support of Dr. Crabbe.
In a letter to Dr. Crabbe dated May 10, 2014, our Hoʻokele (CEO), Wryen K. C. Kīwaha, wrote: “I would like to take this opportunity to applaud your efforts in seeking information regarding the status of the Hawaiian Kingdom as a subject of international law.” He continues, “It is in the opinion of the Board that your efforts were in the best interests of OHA and nā kānaka ʻōiwi. It is a question that must be answered before we can proceed towards a governing entity.”
Since the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is a semi-autonomous political entity and its trustees are elected by the people of Hawaiʻi, CEO Kīwaha was careful in drafting letter – avoiding any form of language which may be considered political or an attempt to influence the outcome of a future election of trustees.
The original was sent to Dr. Crabbe while copies were delivered to Chairperson Colette Y. Machado (Molokaʻi/Lānaʻi), Vice Chairperson Oswald K. Stender (at-Large), former Governor John D. Waiheʻe III (Chairman, Native Hawaiian Roll Commission), and Lei Kihoi (Commissioner for Hawaiʻi Island, NHRC).
After meeting together on Friday, May 16, 2014 to further address the issue, our Board of Trustees stands by its decision to submit a letter of support and to make information on its actions public.