The Office of Hawaiian Affairs was born of a collective and compassionate effort by delegates to the state Constitutional Convention of 1978. They spoke to a sense of justice; to the righting of wrongs suffered by the indigenous people of the Hawaiian Islands for 200 years..
To mālama Hawai’i’s people and environmental resources and OHA’s assets, toward ensuring the perpetuation of the culture, the enhancement of lifestyle and the protection of entitlements of Native Hawaiians, while enabling the building of a strong and healthy Hawaiian people and nation, recognized nationally and internationally.
(a) The people of the State of Hawaii and the United States of America as set forth and approved in the Admission Act, established a public trust which includes among other responsibilities, betterment of conditions for native Hawaiians. The people of the State of Hawaii reaffirmed their solemn trust obligation and responsibility to native Hawaiians and furthermore declared in the state constitution that there be an office of Hawaiian affairs to address the needs of the aboriginal class of people of Hawaii.
(b) It shall be the duty and responsibility of all state departments and instrumentalities of state government providing services and programs which affect native Hawaiians and Hawaiians to actively work toward the goals of this chapter and to cooperate with and assist wherever possible the office of Hawaiian affairs.
HRS 10- 3
The purposes of the office of Hawaiian affairs include:
(1) The betterment of conditions of native Hawaiians. A pro rata portion of all funds derived from the public land trust shall be funded in an amount to be determined by the legislature for this purpose, and shall be held and used solely as a public trust for the betterment of the conditions of native Hawaiians. For the purpose of this chapter, the public land trust shall be all proceeds and income from the sale, lease, or other disposition of lands ceded to the United States by the Republic of Hawaii under the joint resolution of annexation, approved July 7, 1898 (30 Stat. 750), or acquired in exchange for lands so ceded, and conveyed to the State of Hawaii by virtue of section 5(b) of the Act of March 18, 1959 (73 Stat. 4, the Admissions Act), (excluding therefrom lands and all proceeds and income from the sale, lease, or disposition of lands defined as “available lands” by section 203 of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920, as amended), and all proceeds and income from the sale, lease, or other disposition of lands retained by the United States under sections 5(c) and 5(d) of the Act of March 18, 1959, later conveyed to the State under section 5(e);
(2) The betterment of conditions of Hawaiians;
(3) Serving as the principal public agency in this State responsible for the performance, development, and coordination of programs and activities relating to native Hawaiians and Hawaiians; except that the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920, as amended, shall be administered by the Hawaiian homes commission;
(4) Assessing the policies and practices of other agencies impacting on native Hawaiians and Hawaiians, and conducting advocacy efforts for native Hawaiians and Hawaiians;
(5) Applying for, receiving, and disbursing, grants and donations from all sources for native Hawaiian and Hawaiian programs and services; and
(6) Serving as a receptacle for reparations.
OHA is the State’s 13th largest landowner managing approximately 28,000 acres consisting of legacy lands, programmatic lands, and commercial real estate.
In fiscal year 2015, OHA provided approximately $10.8 million in grants to community programs and organizations, serving thousands of people statewide. This does not include money spent on advocacy and research efforts to protect and enhance cultural resources as well as generate opportunities for Native Hawaiians in areas such as education and financial development. As of June 30, 2014 OHA’s investment account was valued at approximately $370 million. This figure does not include land value.