As it welcomes new faces, embattled Office of Hawaiian Affairs seeks a new path forward

New faces representative of a new path for OHA

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There are some new faces on the OHA board of trustees.

And for the first time Tuesday, the agency held its investiture ceremony at Washington Place.

During the coming together, new trustees Brendon Kaleiaina Lee and Kalei Akaka, along with three re-elected trustees, were presented with lei hulu.

The peaceful ceremony charts a new path for the agency dedicated to Native Hawaiians.

Board chair Colette Machado says people who have protested against her, like activist Walter Ritte, were welcomed to the ceremony.

"This is what we call putting down the swords and moving forward collectively because we have a common goal that is bigger than me and him," she said.

During Monday's board meeting, the chair, vice chair and all the committee assignments received unanimous votes.

Some say it’s a sign of things to come.

“To my knowledge in the 40 years of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, there has never been a unanimous vote for chair, for the committees or vice chair so hopefully that will tell our beneficiaries and the public in general OHA is ready to move forward as one group," said Lee, who was named vice chairman.

“Hopefully that will end some of the things that were targeted at OHA through the audit and all these investigations.”

While the federal and state investigations into the agency are still ongoing, for many it's a new day.

"I think transparency is a good thing and I'm hopeful this board is going to support efforts to be transparent and accountable," said Kelii Akina, OHA trustee.

The ceremony honored Queen Liliuokalani and late U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, whose family gathered to sing a tribute.

“This has been a very beautiful full circle moment, honoring our traditions and our ohana of the past connecting and reconnecting with this generation and generations going forward,” said Kalei Akaka, new OHA trustee.

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