By Wendy Osher
Governor Neil Abercrombie today announced the appointment of Maui’s Hōkūlani Holt as an interim commissioner on the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission.
She is also a Hawaiian language and culture lecturer at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College, president of Kauahea Inc., and vice president of the Lalakea Foundation, state officials said.
“Hōkūlani is an ideal choice,” said Commission Chair Michele McLean in a press release issued by the governor’s office. “Her experience and manaʻo will be extremely valuable to Kahoʻolawe and the Commission, and I am grateful that she is able to join us at this critical time,” she said.
KIRC Executive Director Michael Nāhoʻopiʻi also issued the following statement:
“This is an important period of transition for the KIRC, as we work with our community to develop a strategic plan for Kaho‘olawe: 2026, which will commemorate 50 years since the native Hawaiians and the people of Hawai’i fought for the return of Kaho‘olawe – and – as we launch a new fund development action plan in response to the diminishing trust fund while working to cultivate partners in our restoration efforts.”
Holt’s involvement with Kahoʻolawe reportedly began as an advocate during the movement to stop the Navy bombing practice on the island, state officials said.
In addition to a long history with the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana, the governor notes that Holt was also hired in 1997 to serve as the KIRC culture & education manager. During that time, she was reportedly tasked with designing a cultural orientation program for workers involved with the island cleanup project.
Holt responded to the news saying, “It will be a great challenge but also a great pleasure. I am very happy to be on the Commission at this time.”
Holt’s interim role is still subject to state Senate confirmation, and is for the seat selected by the governor from lists submitted by native Hawaiian organizations.
The six other commission seats include:
- An OHA representative: Colette Y. Machado
- Chair of the Board of Land and Natural Resources: William Aila, Jr.
- A representative of the County of Maui: Michele McLean (KIRC Chair)
- A member of the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana: Amber Namaka Whitehead
- Two members selected by the governor from a list submitted by the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana: Christopher Kaliko Baker and Noa Emmett Aluli