Maui mayor announces: Lahaina Advisory Team, community meetings, creation of Office of Recovery

Listen to this Article
3 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen (middle) talks with West Maui residents running the Honokōwai Relief Center on the one-month anniversary of the deadly Lahaina fire. PC: Cammy Clark (9.8.23)

Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen has formed a 5-member Lahaina Advisory Team comprised of Lahaina residents that will meet with him weekly to ensure the County makes decisions based on the needs and desires of the community.

“As parents, business owners, compassionate community leaders and residents who have long-standing and generational ties to Lahaina, each member offers a perspective that will help guide key discussions as we purposefully and mindfully go forward,” Bissen said.

Lahaina Advisory Team members (from left) Kim Ball, Kaliko Storer, Laurie DeGama, Mayor Richard Bissen, Rick Nava, and Archie Kalepa.

The member of the Advisory Team:

Archie Kalepa: A 9th generation resident of Lahaina. He was inducted in 2012 to the Duke Kahanamoku Foundation’s Hawaiʻi Waterman Hall of Fame; was a crew member of Hokuleʻa and Hawaiʻiloa voyaging canoes; leader of Maui Ocean Rescue and Safety; and renowned big wave surfer.

Kaliko Storer: An area training and cultural advisor for Hyatt Resorts; Puʻu Kukui Watershed operations supervisor; and Kula Kaiapuni parent.


Kim Ball: Founder and president of Hi-Tech Maui and Lahainaluna High School wrestling coach since 1980.

Laurie DeGama: Owner of Lahaina business No Ka Oi Deli; president of Lahainaluna PTSA; and for two generations her family owned and operated Hop Wo store and bakery in Lahaina.

Rick Nava: A US Army veteran; president and owner of Lahaina-based MSI Maui; former board member and officer of West Maui Taxpayers Association and the Maui Chamber of Commerce; and a member of Rotary Club of Lahaina.

Four of the Advisory Team members – Kalepa, Storer, DeGama and Nava – are alumni of Lahainaluna High School. Three members – Ball, DeGama and Nava – lost their homes in the Aug. 8 fire.

Bissen also announced two community informational meetings for those impacted by the wildfire disaster. Information will be shared about housing plans, air quality status, support programs and the establishment of a County of Maui Office of Recovery.


Sept. 22, 5 p.m.: Lahaina Civic Center

Sept. 24, 3 p.m.: Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Kahului

The Office of Recovery is being created to ensure a clear focus on meeting the needs of the community and strong coordination of combined efforts involving multiple county departments, state and federal agencies, and non-government organizations.

Bissen has selected Josiah Nishita, who has been in County leadership positions for 11 years, to lead the new department. He currently is Deputy Director in the Department of Management, which oversees the Countyʻs 17 departments. 

Deputy Managing Director Josiha Nishita

Nishita holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from George Fox University and earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Hawaiʻi Shidler College of Business.


“Josiah’s experience, leadership skills and genuine care for our community will serve us well as the new Office of Recovery begins to take shape,” Bissen said in a news release. “We are still in the early stage of its formation and once operational, community engagement will be a necessary part of its success. It’s important that our efforts continue to be community led, government supported.”

The Office of Recovery will address intermediate and long-term disaster recovery needs and be the center of coordination for integrated outcomes in community planning; housing; infrastructure; natural, historical and cultural resources; economic resiliency; and health and social service systems.

“The way forward is together,” Bissen said. “We are making our way through the profoundly heartbreaking period of searching for unaccounted-for family members, an effort we continue to do tirelessly.

“Next week, residents will begin to re-enter restricted zones as the areas complete inspections for their safe access. This week’s community informational meetings will be the start of many other opportunities for the County to include the community in its work.

“With the valuable perspectives of the advisory team and the establishment of a County Office of Recovery, we are entering into an extensive effort that provides a foundation to move forward on with the welfare and well-being of the community at the forefront of our efforts. We will do everything in our power to bring stability and support to all of our Maui ʻohana who are experiencing unimaginable hardship.”


Sponsored Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily or weekly
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Maui Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments