HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Office of Hawaiian Affairs introduced some familiar faces and one new member to its board of trustees today.
In their coming term, they've got some big issues to tackle for Hawaii's Native Hawaiian population, including an ambitious push towards sovereignty.
Voters choose the familiar by re-electing four OHA trustees to the board, and on Tuesday, they were officially installed. Returning members include Chairwoman Colette Machado - representing Molokai and Lanai, at-large trustee Haunani Apoliona, the Big Island's Robert Lindsey, and Maui trustee, Carmen Hulu Lindsey.
Machado says, "I am confident that under this leadership and the makeup of the committee, we will be able to accomplish all of our expectations."
Dan Ahuna is the newest face on the board – representing Kauai and Niihau. He's been a teacher at Kauai high and is actively involved in youth sports as a coach.
"My expertise is in health and education," says Ahuna, "and I would like to continue pushing health and education to our Native Hawaiian people."
The nine member OHA board is tasked with big responsibilities in the coming years. "We want federal recognition!" says Machado.
To get that done - to realize the dream of a sovereign entity – OHA is supporting a state law that calls for a Native Hawaiian roll, Kana'iolowalu. It's a headcount, of sorts, and they're asking the islands' tens of thousands of Native Hawaiians to sign up within the next year.
"Once the roll is completed, it is going to be part of an official recognized roll that officially says this is the Native Hawaiian population of Hawaii," explains Machado.
Trustees plan to continue developing policies and expand economic opportunities that will generate long-term revenue streams, like the recent settlement with the state that gave OHA 30 acres of prime property in Kakaako.
OHA says it provides $14 million dollars in grants for beneficiaries and is working towards multiplying that.