Akana ousted as OHA chair after nearly two months

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The Office of Hawaiian Affairs saw a leadership shakeup during a special board meeting Thursday.

Five of nine trustees approved a motion to remove At-Large Trustee Rowena Akana as OHA chair.

The five trustees who voted to remove her were: At-Large Trustee Leinaala Ahu Isa, Kauai Trustee Dan Ahuna, At-Large Trustee Peter Apo, Hawaii Island Trustee Robert Lindsey Jr., and Molokai Trustee Colette Machado. Trustee Akana voted against the motion, and At-Large Trustee Kelii Akina, Maui Trustee Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey, and At-Large Trustee John Waihee IV voted to abstain.

Akana had only been chair for about two months. She was elected on Dec. 8 during a previous reorganization meeting to replace Lindsey, who previously served as chair for two years.

Last December, Always Investigating reported on a bitterly divided OHA that faced mounting fees and lawsuits. Some said then that the board should do no more business under Akana until all legal matters were resolved.

Per OHA bylaws, Ahu Isa, who was vice chair, became the acting chair.

“My main goal is to bring stability to the OHA Board and our agency,” said Ahu Isa. “OHA’s greatest asset is our employees, and we need to provide a healthy work environment for them so they can continue to meet the needs of our beneficiaries.”

Ahu Isa will serve as the acting chair until the next board meeting, when trustees will elect a new chair.

The agenda for the next OHA board meeting has yet to be filed.

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