Ethnic Hawaiians and Non-Hawaiians Rank Priorities Similarly -- Education, Health, Housing, Environment Are Far More Important Than Native Hawaiian Rights, Racial Entitlements, and Ethnic Hawaiian Nationhood

(c) Copyright 2003 - 2006, Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved

What priorities do the people of Hawai'i have? How important is it to have a good school system, good healthcare, good housing, a clean environment, good business conditions, and less traffic congestion; compared against the importance of addressing Native Hawaiian concerns, sending more ceded land revenue to OHA, and achieving ethnic Hawaiian nationhood? If people were to believe government has a good solution to all these issues, then for which issues would people be most willing to pay more taxes to implement those good solutions? Do ethnic Hawaiians rank their priorities differently from everyone else?

Three surveys were done from 2003 through 2006, and the results are remarkably similar. One survey was done by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs through a series of community meetings and telephone interviews with people who were overwhelmingly of Hawaiian ethnicity, to establish a strategic plan to guide OHA goal-setting and spending priorities for the next five years. A different survey was conducted by the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper by telephone, using a random sample of the entire population with a sampling error of 4% (meaning that if every person in Hawai'i were interviewed, the results would probably not vary by more than 4% from what was reported for this sample). In both surveys, the order of priotities were education, health, housing, and environment at the top, while Native Hawaiian issues, ceded lands, and Native Hawaiian nationhood ranked at the bottom. Ethnic Hawaiians had roughly the same order of priorities and willingness to pay more taxes as people of other ethnicities. Details of the two surveys are provided later. In June 2006 the Honolulu Advertiser conducted a similar survey; and once again "Hawaiian sovereignty" was a high priority for only two percent of respondents.

The question might then be asked: Why do OHA, politicians running for office, and the State Legislature reverse these priorities? Why does OHA insist on adopting the corporate slogan "Ho'oulu lahui aloha" (to raise a beloved nation)? Why does OHA spend far more effort and money on public relations campaigns and political lobbying for "native rights" and the Akaka bill, than it spends on programs to improve education, housing, and healthcare? Why does the Legislature appropriate tens of millions of dollars in lieu of ceded land revenues for OHA (which OHA then invests in the stock market instead of helping needy Hawaiians), even while cutting the budgets for public schools, the University of Hawai'i, community health clinics, and welfare? The mood in the Legislature is vigorous support for the Akaka bill, eagerness to throw money at OHA, increased support for Hawaiian language immersion schools and Hawaiian culture immersion charter schools, and appropriations to fight the lawsuits seeking to dismantle OHA and other entitlement programs. Why?

It is clear why OHA gives highest priority to "native rights and entitlements" and "nationhood" despite the opposite priorities demanded by OHA's beneficiaries. OHA is a bloated bureaucracy with highly paid entrenched staff seeking to protect and increase its money and power. OHA is arrogant and condescending toward its beneficiaries, believing that OHA knows what's best for the long-term needs and social justice of the Native Hawaiians. OHA hoards its wealth and invests it in the stock market for long-term gain, awaiting the day when nationhood is achieved; rather than spending it to help needy people with immediate concerns for education, health, and housing.

Politicians supposedly represent all the people, yet they pay far more attention to Native Hawaiians than to any other ethnic group. And in paying attention to Native Hawaiians, the politicians incorrectly imagine that Native Hawaiians vote as a unified block for whichever candidate is the most zealous supporter of OHA and other racial entitlement programs. It is widely believed that the block of Native Hawaiians is the "swing vote" and will support the candidate who pledges the most money and power for OHA, and for defending against anti-OHA lawsuits, and for promoting the Akaka bill. Politicians also wrongly imagine that Hawai'i's people favor the entitlement programs and give them high priority, when the opposite is true (as disclosed by the recent surveys reported below). There are already over 160 government racial entitlement programs and many additional private ones, valued in the Billions of dollars:
and each year the federal and state governments enact new racial entitlement programs and provide increased budgets to continue the old ones. To examine some of the entitlement bills in the 2003 Legislature (and testimony in opposition), see:

At first, many years ago, it may have seemed logical: ethnic Hawaiians have the worst statistics for poor education, poor health, incarceration, drug abuse, etc. and therefore special programs should be created to help ethnic Hawaiians. But once such programs were created, then both the ethnic Hawaiians and the government agencies came to view people and programs as belonging primarily to racial groups. Thus, affirmative action and government outreach turned into racial entitlement programs with growing bureaucracies. Hawaii's people became balkanized in the eyes of government. It is now easy to imagine that if the racial entitlement programs are abandoned, then the people formerly helped by such programs will no longer be helped. But the truth is this: government should help needy people solely because they need help and regardless of race. If one particular group is neediest, then they will receive the lion's share of the help. For an analysis of how affirmative action leads to racial entitlements followed by balkanization and demands for independent sovereignty, see:

People should be seen by government as individuals, not as members of racial groups. That is especially true in Hawai'i where high rates of intermarriage have produced a population where vast numbers of individuals have many different races and ethnicities in their genetic heritage. Some individuals belong to five or six different groups! We know there are hardly any pure-blood Hawaiians. That means that virtually all ethnic Hawaiians are also members of other groups; furthermore, about three-fourths of people with any Hawaiian ancestry have less than 50% native blood.

Hawai'i is perhaps the most politically liberal of all the states. The new Republican Governor Linda Lingle, and the Republican members of the Legislature, favor social welfare programs supported by high taxes and intrusive regulations, that would make leftist Democrats in other states blush. Institutions like OHA have spent a lot of money and political capital on selling a public perception that ethnic Hawaiians are a poor, downtrodden people victimized by history and desperately in need of massive welfare assistance. Thus, kind-hearted people of a liberal political persuasion are eager to raise taxes and sacrifice general social services in order to give guilt-money to OHA as the representative of the ethnic Hawaiians.

Also, Native Hawaiian culture as represented in music, hula, chanting, Hawaiian language, etc. is the essence of what makes Hawai'i unique, and it is also a source of revenue as the foundation of Hawai'i's largest industry, tourism. Native Hawaiians are regarded as the indispensable providers of culture and aloha, and OHA is the institution designated to represent Native Hawaiians. But a culture belongs to all the people who practice it. Many, many people with no native ancestry eagerly and lovingly participate in various aspects of Hawaiian culture such as hula, music, Hawaiian language, and restoration of ancient taro patches and fishponds. Hawaiian culture is the living core of what defines the special character of Hawai'i for all Hawai'i's people. If OHA suddenly vanished, it would hardly be missed. If all people with any native Hawaiian ancestry suddenly vanished there would be a huge void and deep sadness, but Hawaiian culture would live on in the hearts and daily practices of all Hawai'i's people. The Aloha Spirit is very real and universally shared.

It can be hoped that surveys such as the two summarized below will eventually persuade politicians that all Hawai'i's people, including ethnic Hawaiians, want good education, healthcare, housing, and environment, and are not at all enthusiastic about racial entitlement programs, ceded land revenues, "native rights," and building a Native Hawaiian nation. The people have spoken. The politicians should listen.



From February 2001 through February 2002 a series of 15 community meetings were held throughout the islands, with participation by 329 individuals. Additional comments were obtained from responses to a survey in the monthly OHA newspaper. There were also 802 completed telephone interviews done by SMS Research (an independent survey polling company) with people who identified themselves as ethnic Hawaiian after a much larger number of phone calls were randomly made. Interestingly, the largest single income group, 18% of respondents, had family incomes of $50,000-$75,000 (8% had over $100,000 income).

When asked which 5 priorities out of 8 were most important: 95% chose education, 77% economic development, 75% Hawaiian culture, 73% social services, 67% environment and natural resources, 45% native rights advocacy, 36% Hawaiian issue policy, 23% nationhood.

When people were given an imaginary hoard of millions of dollars and asked to allocate the spending of those dollars among those same 8 categories, the order of spending was the same as the order of importance listed above, with education getting $35, economic development $15, and other categories descending to nationhood with $3.

Unfortunately, these results do not seem to be available on the internet, except here (maybe OHA doesn't want people to see those results!). The results reported here are taken from a 7-page strategic planning report handed out by an OHA representative at a sparsely-attended community meeting in Kane'ohe in early 2002.



A telephone survey was done of 603 adults, randomly selected, between January 25-30, 2003 by Ward Research. The sampling error was 4%, meaning that if every person in Hawai'i were interviewed, the results would probably not vary by more than 4% from what was reported for this sample.

The results speak for themselves, and are very similar to what was reported from the OHA survey. There are comparative bar-graphs and detailed charts available from the website of the Honolulu Advertiser.

A narrative overview, with anecdotal reports from named individuals, is at

A list of tables and graphs

On above page, nine bar graphs and detailed charts are offered -- one for each of the following bullet poins.

! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Ranking of important issues

Making needed repairs to public schools, improving quality of education i public schools, and attracting new businesses to Hawai'i

Helping companies in Hawai'i stay in business, providing social services, and solving traffic problems

Addressing environmental issues, addressing Native Hawaiian concerns

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Willingness to pay more taxes to solve issues

Making needed repairs to public schools, improving quality of education in public schools, and attracting new businesses to Hawai'i

Helping companies in Hawai'i stay in business, providing social services, and solving traffic problems

Addressing environmental issues, addressing Native Hawaiian concerns

(:) (:) (:) (:) (:) (:) (:) (:) (:) (:) (:) (:)

Poll Data: Graphics

Ranking of important issues
Comparative bar graphs showing "How important is it that the Governor and Legislature ...find ways to address ... Native Hawaiian concerns (for example)

Willingness to pay more taxes
Would you be willing to pay more taxes if you believe the government has a good solution to..[all issues compared in one table]

Most would pay to improve public schools



On July 5, 2006 the Honolulu Advertiser published its report of a survey conducted in June 2006 asking Hawai'i's people to rank their order of priority for the problems facing Hawai'i. Once again, "Hawaiian sovereignty" was near the bottom, listed as a high priority by only two percent of the people. Here's the chart from the Honolulu Advertiser article, followed by full text of the article itself.

The chart originally had URL and was included in the following article
Honolulu Advertiser, Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Economy has Isles in upbeat mood

By Mike Leidemann


The Advertiser Hawai'i Poll was conducted on June 8 and from June 21-27. Ward Research Inc. of Honolulu surveyed 602 Hawai'i adult residents, interviewing them by telephone. Margin of error for the results is plus or minus 4 percentage points. spacer spacer

Brian Dott is feeling good about his life right now, but he's worried about what's coming next.

"I'm in a business that's riding the economic boom," said the 54-year-old Dott, who works for a commercial construction contractor. "I'm thriving and enjoying it now, but there are lot of things like inflation that could turn things around quickly."

He's not alone in his thinking.

The latest Advertiser Hawai'i Poll shows most residents feel they are financially better off or at least not worse than they were five years ago. They are, however, slightly less optimistic about the next five years as concerns about traffic, the economy, affordable housing and schools top their list of worries.

Almost 40 percent of the respondents said they and their family are better off than they were five years ago. Asked the same question two years ago, when the local economy was starting to recover from a long slowdown, 25 percent of the respondents thought they were better off than before.

The upswing in optimism isn't surprising in a time when tourism figures are near all-time highs, real property values have skyrocketed, unemployment is among the lowest in the country and the economy is still expanding, although not as rapidly as in recent years, several local economists said.

"It makes sense. More of us are employed and we find it easier to switch to jobs that pay more and suit us better. Along with rising income and a very robust economy, it all adds up to a sense of security," said Carl Bonham, executive director of the University of Hawai'i Economic Research Organization.

In addition, rising property values and a strong stock market make people feel more financially comfortable, economists said.

"A lot of people are feeling better about themselves now. There's a sense that they survived 9/11 and the dot-com market crash five years ago, and now they're better positioned to face whatever is coming next," said Michael Cloe, a financial adviser with the firm of Broederdorf and Cloe.


While the current economic recovery has helped many throughout O'ahu find steady work and some financial security, Dott is thinking ahead to the next phase of the economic cycle.

"The cost of everything land, labor, warehousing is rising," he said. "The state and counties are enjoying a good boom in revenue right now, but I don't see them doing anything to plan ahead for the time when the revenue starts to drop. Eventually, real estate is going to flatten, the construction boom will go bust and everything in business will become a lot more competitive."

The most optimistic poll respondents are those who have lived here 10 years or less (53 percent), are under 35 years of age (51 percent), and Filipinos (51 percent), according to a detailed breakdown of polling data.

Women (19 percent), people over 55 years old (18 percent) and those born and raised here (18 percent) tended to most often feel like they are worse off than five years ago.

More Republicans than Democrats said they are better off than five years ago 55 percent to 32 percent. Slight more than one-third of respondents thought their own situation would improve in the next five years.

"I'm not so worried about myself because I don't have to work anymore, but I can't imagine what it's going to be like for my grandchildren. It's not going to be easy for them. Everything is going to cost more from homes to college tuition," said Kailua resident Janice Tupa, 72, a retired pharmacist. "I don't like the way things are going. Housing prices are going up and up and there are already so many homeless people. Someday the country is going to be broke. We're already borrowing too much money from other countries."


Traffic topped the list of important issues facing Hawai'i, according to the poll. About 24 percent of respondents identified traffic as the most pressing problem a startling increase from four years ago, when just 1 percent of the respondents to a Hawai'i poll listed traffic as the most important problem confronting the state.

The findings give support to Mayor Mufi Hannemann's contention that Hawai'i residents may finally be ready to support a new mass transit initiative, an idea that has floundered at least four times in the past 25 years.

"It takes longer and longer to get from one place to another," said Vivian Davis, a Chinatown resident who uses both a car and moped to get around. "I'd ride the rail if they build it. It would be faster and easier, and I could leave my car at home."

Bank of Hawaii economist Paul Brewbaker maintains that while people may be frustrated by stalled or slow progress they still believe traffic problems will be addressed by the government.

"Knowing that virtually nothing material has happened to improve education, drug abuse, etcetera, people are focusing in on transportation ... since the other problems at least aren't getting any worse," he said.

Economic concerns slipped in this year's poll. In 2002, 38 percent of all respondents felt the economy was the state's most pressing problem. This year's poll, that matter dropped to 19 percent. Only respondents under age 35 rated the economy a bigger concern than traffic in the current poll.

Bonham, the UH economist, wondered if a question about infrastructure should have been included in the poll.

"Infrastructure ought to be near the top of the list. Infrastructure includes highways, city roads, sewage, ports, harbors and electricity," he said. "All those things are extremely important and have potential to adversely affect society, people and the economy."


While some respondents felt relatively comfortable in their financial situations, they worried a lot about those less fortunate.

"I'm not a bleeding heart, but I'm concerned about all the homeless," said Kailua resident Jan Ocvirk. "There are a lot of working people who can't afford a place to live, yet we keep building new places for the wealthy. I don't understand that thinking."

Alvina Klosick, a retired federal worker living in the Ala Wai area, agreed.

"I'm better off myself, but I think most people are still struggling," Klosick said. "Prices are outrageously high and they keep increasing the rents every six months. Most people can't afford that, and I think it's going to keep getting worse. It's going to be terrible."