In an exclusive and revealing interview with Grassroot Institute President Dr. Keli’i Akina, Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Oswald Stender addressed some of the most sensitive issues facing OHA and the Hawaiian people. Stender spoke frankly about the fact that the Akaka Bill and the Native Hawaiian Roll (Kana’iolowalu) have failed to generate widespread support among Hawaiians for a Hawaiian sovereign nation, concluding that “Most Hawaiians are perfectly content to live under the current [U.S. federal and state] government structure.” Stender spoke of the successful effort he led resulting in the OHA Trustee board’s decision to terminate its funding of the Native Hawaiian Roll: “To spend 4 million dollars to find 20,000 people out of 500,000, to me there’s a message there. It’s telling me…the Hawaiians are not interested.” When Dr. Akina asked Trustee Stender about OHA’s efforts to create a Hawaiian governing entity, Stender responded: “OHA’s got a problem… we’re a government agency. ” He continued, saying, “The problem is that government is very inefficient. So when people talk about building a new government—why do you want to build a government when it’s high cost to maintain it and governments around the country are going broke? … Surely now is not the time. And so there are other issues we should be working on rather than building this government that is not going to work.” Mr. Stender stressed that his comments were made as an individual OHA trustee and not on behalf of the Board of Trustees. In addition, Mr. Stender was referring specifically to American or Hawaii State government-sponsored programs for Hawaiian sovereignty and not to the entire range of sovereignty proposals generated by the Hawaiian community.
The wide -ranging interview covered other key issues such as the Akaka Bill. As to the education of Hawaiian youth, Stender believes that the Kamehameha Schools, on whose board of trustees he sat when it was known as the Bishop Estate, needs to use its resources to serve a far greater number of Hawaiians than it currently does. As an alternative to the high cost of building and maintaining campuses, Stender has proposed a two-pronged approach: (1) Kamehameha should fortify public schools in areas with high Hawaiian populations; and (2) Kamehameha should subcontract the job of educating large numbers of Hawaiians to Hawaii’s numerous and more cost effective private schools.
Watch the entire interview here on You Tube below: