OHA revisits Makaweli Poi Mill transition

HONOLULU — The Office of Hawaiian Affairs announced Tuesday that its non-profit subsidiary, Hi‘ipoi LLC, will transition ownership and management of Makaweli Poi Mill to a Kaua‘i community organization.

“We want to ensure that people in the Kaua‘i kalo community would become the new owners and managers of Makaweli Poi Mill,” OHA Chief Operating Officer Kamana‘opono Crabbe said in a news release.

Hi‘ipoi’s plan allows decisions affecting Kaua‘i’s taro farmers and poi supply to be made by those closest to the situation, the release states.

“We know that local decision-making is important for our Hawaiian community,” Crabbe said. “Our transition plan is intended to make that happen.”

Crabbe said OHA is optimistic about its ongoing discussions with community members who are serious about becoming the new owners and managers of Makaweli Poi Mill.

“All of us in the discussion are aiming for a smooth transition that maintains taro production,” he said.

To maximize the success of the transition plan, OHA will be meeting with Kaua‘i taro community stakeholders, Wednesday to discuss an appropriate timeline and other aspects of the transition.

“We understand our original timeline may have been too ambitious and are open to considering a longer timeframe to implement the transition,” Crabbe said. “We are committed to working with the Kaua‘i community so that kalo can remain a vital part of its everyday life.”

Hi‘ipoi Chief Operating Officer Mona Bernadino said Tuesday in a phone conversation that there never was an intent to close the Makaweli Poi Mill following a visit to the facility and the town.

“Once an appropriate group is identified, things can happen quickly and there should be no disruption of poi,” Bernadino said. “If there is a disruption, it should be just briefly.”

OHA is a unique, independent state agency established through the Hawai‘i State Constitution and statutes to advocate for the betterment of conditions of all Native Hawaiians, with a Board of Trustees elected by the voters of Hawai‘i. OHA is guided by a vision and mission to ensure the perpetuation of the culture, to protect the entitlements of Native Hawaiians.

Visit www.oha.org for more information.

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