Four will seek seats as
trustees of OHA

They say they want to bring some teamwork
to the Hawaiian board

By Pat Omandam

Four native Hawaiians today were to announce their candidacies for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, kicking off a race for seats on the board of trustees this fall.

Haunani Apoliona of Oahu, Colette Machado of Molokai, Warren Perry of Kauai and Hannah Springer of the Big Island say they hope to bring a team approach to the board, which has been criticized for political infighting.

The four, members of the group Na Lei Lokahi, hope their philosophy of harmony and balance will bring unity to the OHA board - and to the Hawaiian community at large.

"I feel that we would be certainly able to see `eyeball to eyeball' and sit comfortably at a table to talk about the hard issues and yet still come away with respect for one another," said Machado, a member of the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission.

Voter participation in OHA races is another of the candidates' goals.

The nine-member OHA board has been plagued with power struggles and factional politics, which prompted one other Hawaiian group to seek changes on the board.

Up for re-election this September are trustees Kinau Boyd Kamalii (at-large), Moanikeala Akaka (Hawaii), Moses K. Keale Sr. (Kauai-Niihau) and Samuel L. Kealoha Jr. (Molokai-Lanai).

Trustees serve staggered four-year terms, with half the seats up for election every even-numbered year.

Machado is the president and executive director of Ke Kua`aina Haunauna Hou on Maui, a community-based organization aimed at creating economic opportunities for Hawaiians.

Hawaiians are vulnerable now, Machado said, because the lack of unity has brought public criticism and calls for more spending of OHA's $227 million reserves.

"Whatever it is, we have been taking it in the butt the last three years, more so this legislative session. Hawaiians themselves are looking to figure out what to do," she said.

Perry, former president of the Kauai Bar Association, said the choice to run was difficult but necessary, given his desire to restore integrity to OHA. He feels OHA needs to direct its resources toward helping Hawaiian youth and solving problems that plague Hawaiians. And he sees OHA's internal problems as a major obstacle for getting those things done. "And what I'm ashamed of is if I hold that outside view, as one who really cares about the goings on about our people, I'm wondering what all the other non-kanaka maoli are thinking."

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