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OHA CEO defends letter on sovereignty

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COMOHA CEO Kamana'opono Crabbe addressed supporters and the media at a press conference on the fallout over his rescinded letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.
    CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
    OHA CEO Kamana'opono Crabbe addressed supporters and the media at a press conference on the fallout over his rescinded letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.

Appearing with more than 100 vocal supporters at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs offices Monday, OHA Chief Executive Officer Kamana’opono Crabbe explained why he sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asking for an opinion on whether the Hawaiian kingdom still exists as an independent sovereign state under international law.

After learning about the May 5 letter Friday, OHA trustees fired off another letter to Kerry rescinding Crabbe’s letter, explaining that it doesn’t reflect the position of the board.

Crabbe said he met with trustee Chairwoman Colette Machado before making the letter public and was under the impression she had given her blessings to proceed. "Unfortunately, it is now apparent that we walked away from that meeting with a misunderstanding and misinformation," he said.

Contacted Monday afternoon, Machado said she didn’t give Crabbe any approval and, in fact, she described her reaction as "dumbfounded and stunned" because it appeared to undercut OHA’s policy to work toward nation building.

Crabbe said Machado suggested he and the board engage in hooponopono, the Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness, to smooth things out over the flap. Machado said the hooponopono is scheduled for May 19.

One trustee, Dan Ahuna, sent a subsequent letter to Kerry asking that his name be removed from the board’s follow-up letter. In his letter, Ahuna said Crabbe was merely "carrying out his fiduciary authority of due diligence in gathering evidence needed to make decisions" as OHA’s chief executive.

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