OHA-Kakaako Deal A Victory for Abercrombie

Chad Blair/Civil Beat

It took many of the state's sharpest legal and political minds months of hard work but the result was the enactment of historic legislation that settles a $200 million tab from the state to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

But in the end it might not have been possible were it not for Gov. Neil Abercrombie. His administration was able to do what his predecessors were not: resolve a 30-year-old unresolved claim to income and proceeds from ceded lands.

History will show whether the conveying of 10 parcels in Kakaako Makai to OHA is actually a good deal, though Abercrombie has said repeatedly that he believes the value of the 25 acres of contiguous and adjacent land will only grow.

And the issue of ceded lands is not over. The OHA-Kakaako settlement has no effect on claims to sovereignty, or to claims related to ceded lands after this July. OHA's current annual share of ceded-land receipts is $15.1 million.

But give the governor his due.

It was his attorney general, David Louie, that crafted the proposal with OHA attorney Bill Meheula, and it was Abercrombie staff like Blake Oshiro and Kate Stanley who helped shepherd the controversial bill through the unpredictable Hawaii Legislature.

It was also Abercrombie's friendship with OHA Chair Colette Machado and his obvious love and respect for Native Hawaiians that helped make things happen.

Quoting U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, who sat in the front row of the bill-signing ceremony Wednesday at Washington Place, Abercrombie said, "It's important to do things right. ... In Hawaiian we call it pono."

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