Hawaii Film Blog

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Office of Hawaiian Affairs Ups Media Spending

Last Friday, Pacific Business News reported that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), a semi-autonomous state agency and Native Hawaiian trust, recently tripled its media spending to promote Native Hawaiian issues, from $439K in fiscal year 2004 to $1.3M in fiscal 2005. For the coming year, OHA has budgeted $1.36M for media spending.

This year, OHA's overall annual budget is $28.5M, which is $10M more than previous years. OHA trustees voted on this increase to devote more money to education and grant programs.

Trustee Osweld Stender said of the recent media expeditures, "In OHA's history we've never spent this kind of money. One reason is because we didn't have the money at that time, and two there's never been an issue more urgent than the Akaka Bill," which aims to give federal recognition to Native Hawaiians.

Recent OHA media expenditures include event sponsorships
, radio, TV, and newspaper ads, promo tchotchkes, and TV specials. Expenditures on TV specials include: a $121,250 grant to PBS Hawaii to produce a documentary on Hawaii's alii trusts; $262,000 to help fund Edgy Lee's documentary "The Hawaiians" and related media productions--a move that OHA public info director Manu Boyd called "unprecedented;" and $19,000 for prime time airtime on KHON to broadcast a 30-minute special called "The Hawaiian Connection," which cost about $5,000 to make.

"The Hawaiian Connection" featured interviews with Native Hawaiians living in D.C. on how they stay connected to Hawaiian food and culture so far from home. Unhappy with the angle of the show, OHA trustee Donald Cataluna griped, "Most people don't realize Hawaiians are the only ones that don't have a country to go to. So we want to let people know about this. That to me should've been the main issue for these television programs, not to see what they eat in Washington, D.C. -- that turned me off." Trustees approve OHA's overall budget, but don't generally micromanage specific expenditures, leaving those decisions instead to administrator Clyde Namuo.

Since the publication of the PBN article, Native Hawaiians were dealt another blow, adding fuel to the fire of uncertainty over the Akaka Bill and the recent 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that Kamehameha Schools' Native Hawaiian-preferred admissions policy is discriminatory. Yesterday, it was that same federal court that ruled in favor of a group of Hawaii taxpayers who sought the right to challenge the constitutionality of using state tax dollars to help fund OHA. OHA's current state funding is $2.8M, about 10% of its total budget.

>> OHA big money on media [PBN, 8/26/05]
>> Office of Hawaiian Affairs
>> Kamehameha Schools Seek Justice [AsianWeek, 8/26/05]
>> Akaka touts bill's economic value [Hnl Advertiser, 8/31/05]
>> Court OKs challenge to taxpayer funding of OHA [Hnl Advertiser, 9/1/05]

>> Native Hawaiian History Timeline [OHA]
>> The Hawaii Annexation Or "How to steal a Kingdom" [Asians in America Project]
>> Hawai'i Labor History [Univ. of Hawaii]
1893 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii [Wikipedia]

>> Culture Clash
>> Cultural Insensitivity

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