Hakuone’s True Meaning

Hakuone means “a small land division cultivated for a chief” – in this context it metaphorically represents OHA on behalf of the lāhui, according to Kumu Cy Bridges. In addition to the literal meaning of the name, there are layers of kaona (hidden meaning) as well.

“The word ‘haku’ means ‘to compose, create, put in order, arrange, braid,’ such as a haku lei,” explained Bridges. “Haku mele means to compose a song or chant. So it is hoped that we will accomplish our goals by weaving together all of the important elements necessary to fashion a beautiful, haku lei that will be held firmly together as it should in that process.

“‘Haku’ also means ‘lord, master, owner.’ [So] we’re trying to cultivate the property to preserve and share the best of who we are and bring recognition and pride to Hawaiʻi and to our kūpuna, the source of who we are as a Native people. And we will always need Ka Haku, The Lord, and His guidance and inspiration in all that we do. The recognition and acknowledgment of deity was intricately woven into the fabric of our culture and is who we are as Kānaka Maoli,” said Bridges.

The word “one” means sand, but poetically it refers to land – such as in the phrase “kuʻu one hānau” (my birth land). “It’s also tied to the word “hoʻōne” which is the pumice stone used by the ancients to polish their artwork,” added Bridges. “So poetically it refers to smoothing out situations within communities and families.”

It’s Time for Hawaiians to Create Community

OHA’s vision, “Hoʻoulu Lāhui Aloha” or “to raise a beloved lāhui” will not cease. We are proud to announce that after an extensive public query, OHA is moving forward with a plan to develop the kīpuka known as Hakuone in a way that will improve the quality of life for Native Hawaiians.

The lands of Hakuone will become a source of abundance and pride for our lāhui; a place that embodies a Hawaiian national identity while defining and maintaining a Hawaiian sense of place. Education and perpetuation of our culture is the foundation for Hakuone. We are creating a cultural gathering place, an oasis for the Hawaiian community in urban Honolulu.

This wahi pana will connect the cultural and spiritual aspects of nohona Hawaiʻi, reflecting both our storied past and our promising future. It will become a uniquely Hawaiian space in an urban setting where people from around the world can gather and exchange ideas and where physical structures will harmonize with the environment.

About OHA

OHA is a semi-autonomous state agency responsible for improving the wellbeing of all Native Hawaiians (regardless of blood quantum). The agency is governed by a Board of Trustees, made up of nine members who are elected statewide to serve four-year terms and set organizational policy. OHA is administered by a Chief Executive Officer (Ka Pouhana), who is appointed by the Board of Trustees to oversee a staff of about 170 people.

OHA works to improve the wellbeing of Native Hawaiians through advocacy, research, community engagement, land management and the funding of community programs.

The need for an office dedicated to the well-being of all Hawaiians was born out of activism in the 1970s to right past wrongs suffered by Native Hawaiians for over 100 years. At the Hawaiian Constitutional Convention of 1978, Native Hawaiians such as Aunty Frenchy DeSoto and John Waiheʻe advocated to establish OHA, an agency that would use income from land taken from the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom to benefit Hawaiians. This was passed by voters of all backgrounds in 1978.

The OHA headquarters are located in Iwilei, Oʻahu. OHA Community Resource Centers are also located on Kauaʻi, Maui, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, and East Hawaiʻi (Hilo) and West Hawaiʻi (Kona).

In 2021, OHA celebrated the 40th anniversary of the first investiture of trustees held on Jan. 17, 1981, at ʻIolani Palace.

Our History

Creation of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs

In 1978, the people of Hawaiʻi voted to create the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Hawaiʻi’s constitution established OHA’s right to a portion of the Public Land Trust (ceded lands).

Office of Hawaiian Affairs

OHA is the constitutionally established body responsible for protecting and promoting the rights of Native Hawaiians with a focus on improving the conditions of Native Hawaiians.


Agreement to Settle

OHA and the state agreed to settle the state’s 32-year past-due Public Land Trust revenue debt by conveying 30 acres of land in Kakaʻako Makai to OHA. The state’s appraiser valued the land at approximately $198 million, assuming a 400-foot height limit for Parcels E and I, which is double the current building height limit of 200 feet.


During the 2012 Legislative Session, several legislators pushed for OHA’s past due public land trust settlement bill to include the ability to develop residential housing at Kakaʻako Makai.

Cash Settlement

On Feb. 8, 2012, then OHA Chair Colette Machado sent a letter to Sen. Brickwood Galuteria stating that while OHA preferred “a cash settlement,” the settlement bill provided OHA with “an opportunity to obtain land assets that can provide a revenue stream that will increase OHA’s capacity to deliver programs and services to our beneficiaries.”

Residential Development

 Legislators friendly to OHA wanted to push for amendments to the settlement bill that would allow for residential development on some of the parcels, however, there wasn’t widespread support.. Given the political landscape at the time, and the fact that no other settlement offers were on the table, OHA opted to accept the deal despite the existing limitations on development. This decision ensured OHA’s acquisition of 30 acres of prime real estate and allowed time to initiate master planning and consult with land use experts to determine what types of development would work best for OHA – with a long-term objective of returning to the legislature the following year to request specific land use rights for those properties.

Bill Enacted

Ultimately, the settlement bill was enacted unamended, resulting in OHA’s acquisition of 30 acres of land in Kakaʻako Makai.


Framework Plan

In November 2013, OHA’s planning consultants developed a “Draft Framework Plan” for OHA’s Kakaʻako Makai lands that explored numerous development scenarios.

Framework Plan

The Draft Framework Plan report noted that under the existing legislated use of the property, the value of the land was $91 million, not the nearly $200 million the state’s appraisers had estimated.

Framework Plan

The Draft Framework Plan report recommended that as OHA begins master planning for its Kakaʻako lands, it should also seek proper legislated use to include housing.

Framework Plan

OHA’s Board of Trustees adopted the Kakaʻako Makai Policy to ensure that cultural and stewardship values drive design and use decisions, balancing pono and commerce and prioritizing the creation of a Hawaiian sense of place.OHA’s Board of Trustees adopted the Kakaʻako Makai Policy to ensure that cultural and stewardship values drive design and use decisions, balancing pono and commerce and prioritizing the creation of a Hawaiian sense of place.


Residential Prohibition

During the 2014 Legislative Session, OHA pursued legislation to lift the residential prohibition on certain Kakaʻako Makai lands to continue discussions that began in 2012. The effort was unsuccessful.


Community Engagement

In 2015, OHA conducted statewide meetings to engage the community and inform the Conceptual Master Planning process.


Conceptual Master Plan

In 2016, OHA conducted statewide meetings to share its Conceptual Master Plan with the community. At the time, OHA indicated it would move forward with planning based on what current law allows to expedite progress while continuing to look for opportunities to reopen the permissible uses discussion.

Previous Plans

With new board and administrative leadership, and a drastically changing and challenging economic environment, OHA is taking a fresh look at its previous plans for Kakaʻako Makai.

Ability to Develop

The ability to develop residential buildings at Kakaʻako Makai would provide critical revenue and housing opportunities for the Native Hawaiian community. A well-planned Kakaʻako Makai can help stimulate the economy and contribute to the revitalization of Honolulu’s urban core.


Re-Open Discussions

During the 2021 Legislative Session, OHA sought to re-open discussions with lawmakers about how they could further the state’s commitment to address historical and continuing injustices against the Native Hawaiian people.


During the 2021 legislative session, SB1334 was introduced and sought to provide OHA the freedom to develop Honolulu’s core into something Hawaiʻi could be proud of while, at the same time, promoting Hawaiian financial self-sufficiency by generating revenues to lift Kānaka Maoli out of enduring economic hardship