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.
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.