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Hawaii officials mourn ‘sudden passing’ of former OHA Trustee Colette Machado

Former OHA Trustee Colette Machado, who spent decades serving on public boards and commissions focusing on Native Hawaiian issues, has died, OHA and other public officials announced Monday. Photo courtesy of OHA

Molokai’s Colette Machado, a former Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee for 24 years, has died, local officials said Monday.

Current OHA Board Chairperson and Maui Trustee Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey said that “we are shocked and saddened by today’s news of the sudden passing” of Machado.

“She was a true mana wahine who spent her life in service to the Native Hawaiian community and she will be dearly missed,” Lindsey said in a statement Monday evening. “Although this is a sad day at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, we will continue the work that Colette so passionately undertook as a role model in serving Native Hawaiians.

“Our deepest condolences and aloha go out to Uncle Myron and the Machado ohana.”

State Senate Majority Floor Leader Lynn DeCoite, who represents East and Upcountry Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe, also expressed condolences following Machado’s passing.

“Sending my thoughts, prayers and aloha in memory of former OHA Trustee Colette Machado,” DeCoite said in a statement Monday evening. “I am thankful for her years of service, her dedication to the people of Molokai along with her commitment to and her advocacy for Native Hawaiians across Hawaii. My heartfelt condolences to her ohana. She will be greatly missed.”

Machado was first elected to the OHA board in 1996, according to the agency. She served as chairperson from December 2010 to November 2014 and was chosen as chairperson again in 2017. She was ousted from the Molokai seat on the board by Luana Alapa in the 2020 elections.

Machado also served on multiple community boards and organizations, including the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission, the state Land Use Commission and the state Hawaiian Homes Commission. She was also a founding member of the Hawaii Alliance for Community Based Economic Development.

U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele praised Machado’s “unyielding support and advocacy for the advancement of Native Hawaiians” through her work with OHA, the Land Use Commission, the Molokai Burial Council and Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission, among others.

“The word ‘grassroots’ is synonymous with public service and community engagement,” Kahele said in a statement Monday evening. “It is also a word closely associated with Colette Machado, who during her decades-long career in the public sector, had the ability to effect positive change for the constituents she served.”

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