In managing the OHA investment portfolio, there is an investment category established by the global investor community termed MRI or Mission Related Investment. MRI deviates from the normal stockholder-driven investments in that the return is not measured strictly by financial return (although in some cases it can be). For a number of years OHA has been active in acquiring properties for their cultural value to the Hawaiian people and what we expect will someday be the Hawaiian Nation. The OHA mission, as a placeholder until such time that a nation is re-birthed, includes pursuing initiatives that restore the geo-cultural dignity of the nation by physically defining it. Building an inventory of properties that speak to the national history and in which are imbedded the spiritual soul of the nation is very much a fiduciary duty of OHA. So many of our wahi pana (sacred places) were lost to the Hawaiian people in the colonizing of the Kingdom, it seems appropriate for OHA to re-acquire as many as we can by just buying them back. The time for begging is pau (finished).
These are some of the properties now in the OHA land inventory.
Waimea Valley was carved by rain and wind from the flank of the Koʻolau Mountain range on the windward side of Oʻahu some two million years ago. With its range of habitats stretching from the dry, salty sea shore to the cool, misty uplands, it is home to a vast array of ferns, flowering plants, invertebrates, stream life, and birds, including the endangered ʻalaeʻula, a black water bird with a red shield on its beak. Waimea Valley is one of the best places on Oʻahu to look for native species while strolling to a lovely waterfall and natural pool, and enjoying the many peacocks, the favorite bird of Princess Kaʻiulani.
Kūkaniloko Birthstones is one of the most significant cultural sites on Oʻahu. These uplands, located near Wahiawā, were a place where chiefs were born and where famed chiefs lived. Wahiawā is translated as place of rumbling. It is said that Wahiawā is where thunderstorms, the voices of the ancestral gods, welcomed an offspring of divine rank. Being the center of the island, Kūkaniloko is also symbolic of the piko (navel) and thus, birth.
Pahua Heiau in Hawai‘i Kai is located at the foot of the Kamilo Iki ridge. It is believed to have been built in the 14th century and is dedicated to the god of agriculture.
Wao Kele o Puna is the forested upland rain belt of the district of Puna. At 27,775 acres, it is home to the largest expanse of lowland tropical forest remaining in the Hawaiian Islands, and the entire United States. It is a vital part of our island’s watershed and is a haven of diversity, with many species that remain to be documented. This is also an area of great cultural importance to Native Hawaiians, who use it to gather plants for traditional crafts, medicine, and ceremonial uses.
Palauea is a 20-acre property donated to OHA to be maintained as a cultural preserve between the towns of Kīhei and Mākena along the west coast of Maui. It features an ancient fishing village and agricultural sites tied to Native Hawaiian culture, and is managed by the University of Hawai‘i Maui campus. The property offers invaluable insights on the traditional Hawaiian landscape.
The purchase by Hawaiians of these properties reminds us of the words of Kamehameha III: Ua mau ke ea o ka ‘āina i ka pono. The sovereignty of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.