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With new leader, OHA swings toward activism

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 03:21 a.m. HST, Dec 22, 2010


The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is now under the leadership of longtime grass-roots activist Collette Machado, who was elected chairwoman yesterday.

Machado, 60, succeeds Haunani Apoliona, who did not seek another term as chairwoman and supported Machado, who is an ally. Machado was elected in a 7-0 vote. Trustees Rowena Akana and Donald Cataluna were not on hand for the vote.

Apoliona, who remains on the board, had chaired the agency since February 2002.

Machado said she will continue the priorities Apoliona established, focusing largely on ensuring OHA gets what it believes is a fair share of ceded-land revenues and lobbying for U.S. recognition of a native Hawaiian entity through congressional passage of the Akaka Bill.

But those attending yesterday's trustee investiture ceremony at St. Andrew's Cathedral Chapel said they expect OHA to lend a more sympathetic ear to native Hawaiian activist causes.

Apoliona has a social worker-educator background as former head of Alu Like, known for promoting economic and social self-sufficiency for native Hawaiians largely through education and social service programs.

Machado, on the other hand, was best known for her involvement in a number of native Hawaiian organizations, including the seminal Protect Kahoolawe Ohana and later the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission.

Kale Gumapac said he views the shift in leadership from Apoliona to Machado as "certainly a change in direction." A member of the Puna-based Kanaka Council o Moku o Keawe, which advocates for native Hawaiian rights, Gumapac said he envisions OHA making more of an effort to embrace activist views.

"The only way for Hawaiian community to holomua and to move forward is to be able to move forward together," Gumapac said.

That view was echoed by state Sen. Brickwood Galuteria (D, Downtown-Waikiki), who will head the committee overseeing Hawaiian affairs in the state Senate.

"If anybody has made that evolution from activist to established leader, I think Chair Machado has," Galuteria said.

Machado said she will be "encouraging our trustees to reach deep and extend an open hand and to work for all of the communities that we serve."

Akana, a longtime critic of the Apoliona-Machado faction, said she wished Machado the best. "I think Collette has more of a sense of real community, being a grass-roots person, and I think that's one of her good qualities that hopefully will transcend at the board level," Akana said.





More From The Star-Advertiser

Machado selected as new OHA chairwoman




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