Native Hawaiian rights activist and lawyer Mililani Trask has been voted to become Hawaii island’s trustee for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
OHA in a news release introduced Trask, who’s from Hilo, after a Board of Trustees nomination process that included a public testimony hearing on Wednesday and presentations from nominees themselves today. That followed a round of questioning from trustees about advocacy measures.
Trask was voted in after receiving six votes from the OHA board. Two other candidates, Joshua Lanakila Mangauil and Kaloa Robinson, each received one vote in the third round of voting for the trustee position.
“I have dedicated my life to the uplifting of the Hawaiian peoples, the opposition to systemic racism that we face and the eradication of poverty, landlessness, and ill health which are current manifestations of our collective colonial past,” Trask said in a statement. “I state unequivocally, that if I am supported by the majority of the current Trustees, I will pledge to speak honestly, argue strenuously for consensus, and listen to and consider the words of my fellow Trustees as we work together to advance the status and condition of our peoples.”
Trask has served the Hawaiian community for decades, and for 30 years was the executive director of The Gibson Foundation, a nonprofit that assists Native Hawaiians in attaining home ownership. She has an extensive background relating to the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy, the creation of post-monarch Hawaiian Trusts, including the state Public Land Trust, the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust and the Admissions Act.
“On behalf of the OHA Board of Trustees, I extend a warm hoʻomaikaʻi (congratulations) to Trustee Trask on her appointment to serve the lāhui,” said the board’s chairwoman Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey in a statement, adding that there are ongoing issues such as “ensuring the state provides the proper allotment of Public Land Trust revenues for Native Hawaiians, and the protection of our precious ʻāina (land) and wai (water) resources. We look forward to working together to affect policy to improve the conditions for our beloved lāhui.”
OHA began searching for a replacement for the position after former trustee Keola Lindsey resigned on Feb. 1.
Trask will serve on the board until the general election on Nov. 8.