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Native Hawaiian Roll Commission to be led by former Gov. Waihee

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 4:20 p.m. HST, Sep 8, 2011

Former Gov. Waihee will lead a new commission charged with preparing and maintaining a roll of qualified Native Hawaiians that would work toward the reorganization of a native government.

Other members of the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, announced today by Gov. Abercrombie, are:

>> Na'alehu Anthony, Chief Executive Director of 'Oiwi TV and the principal of Paliku Documentary Films.

>> Lei Kihoi, former staff attorney for Judge Walter Heen who has served the Native Hawaiian community in various aspects for over 25 years.

>> Mahealani Perez-Wendt, Executive Director of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation for 32 years before retiring in December 2009.

>> Robin Puanani Danner, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement.

The commission was established under Senate Bill 1520, signed into law earlier this year by Abercrombie.

It formally recognizes Native Hawaiians as "the only indigenous, aboriginal, maoli population" of the islands and supports efforts in Congress to gain federal recognition for Hawaiians, similar to that offered to American Indians and native Alaskans. It would continue the effort at a state level regardless of whether that goal is achieved.

The commission is to prepare and maintain a roll of qualified Hawaiians who meet specific criteria. Qualified members must be at least 18 years old, be able to trace ancestry back to 1778, show that they have maintained their culture and be willing to participate. Once the roll is finished, the commission would be required to publish the registry to start the process of holding a convention to organize a Hawaiian governing entity. The governor would then disband the commission.

The commission is funded by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs but is to operate independently of the agency.

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