Hulō! Hulō! On October 4, 2007, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ (“OHA’s”) Board of Trustees voted unanimously to award the Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law a $630,000 grant in support of our Na‘au Pono Initiative. Na‘au Pono is a deep sense of justice, which is what the Center strives to achieve for Native Hawaiians. Funding will be provided over two years to help enable the Center’s continued existence at the Law School. OHA’s support has proved critical, as the Center is facing a significant budget shortfall this year.

In 2005, the Center was established by a Native Hawaiian Education Act (“NHEA”) grant to improve the quality of life for Native Hawaiians by providing law students, attorneys, and community members the opportunities and tools to learn about and impact Native Hawaiian law and issues, while increasing access to information and historical materials. We are now an academic center that promotes education, scholarship, community outreach and collaboration on issues of law, culture and justice for Native Hawaiians and other Pacific and Indigenous peoples.

For two years, the Center received funding under the NHEA as a specifically designated program. However, under new Congressional procedures, a year-long moratorium was put on specifically designating programs for funding. Although the Center applied for NHEA funding through the competitive grant process, its efforts were not successful.

The Center also applied for a Trustee Initiative Grant from OHA. On October 3, 2007, at a joint meeting of the Committee on Beneficiary Advocacy and Empowerment and the Committee on Asset & Resource Management, the committees considered and passed out the Center’s funding application. The Center was supported in its efforts by Chief Justice William S. Richardson as well as by Dean Avi Soifer, both of whom attended the joint committee meeting to provide information and answer questions. The full Board of Trustees took up and approved the matter the next day. Mahalo piha to the OHA Trustees and staff for their commitment to our program and work on behalf of the Native Hawaiian community.

The Center also received good news from University of Hawai‘i Vice-Chancellor of Research and Graduate Education Gary Ostrander who has committed to provide up to $50,000 to support the Center’s staff and programs.

We are hopeful that NHEA funding will resume next fiscal year. In the meantime, we are implementing a larger fundraising strategy to ensure that we can continue all aspects of our program, including our student Summer and Post-J.D. Fellowships.

To help with these and other Center initiatives, please click on the following link: Make a donation. Your help will enable the Center to empower Native Hawaiian and other students to pursue and succeed in legal careers, and to engage in issues that impact the Hawaiian community. Your donations are tax deductible. Mahalo!