The Colette Machado Scholarship will support Native Hawaiian TRIO students pursuing higher education.
About Colette Machado by Davianna McGreggor
Our wahine koa, Colette Pi'ipi'i Machado, champion for Moloka'i, with a heart full of aloha passed into the leina on May 23, 2022. In her lifetime, Colette overcame financial hardship and racial prejudice to become one of the most influential and respected leaders of our Lahui.
Born on Moloka'i, her ancestral roots traced to the Pi'ipi'i warriors of Halawa, Moloka'i. Her grandfather, Zachary Pali-Pahapu was one of the original six homesteaders to found the Hawaiian Homestead Program in Kalama'ula in 1921.
Her parents worked in the pineapple fields and collected welfarein the off-season. Later, they moved to Honolulu, living in the Palolo Housing and then in Kalihi. She would say, “I remember how dificult it was living on welfare on Moloka'i and the Palolo Housing. My commitment is to uplift our people, stand up against injustice, be an advocate.”
Colette was a high school dropout but completed her G.E.D and earned a Bachelor's degree in Education from the University of Hawai'i, Manoa. “I met Colette when she took the Hawaiians class that I teach in the Department of Ethnic Studies and we protested the eviction of farmers in Waiahole-Waikane and supported striking workers at Hawaiian Telephone,” said Davianna McGregor.
After college, Colette worked as a TRIO counselor at Honolulu Community College. Contractor, Chucky Coelho recalls how she helped him and other students from Moloka'i get financial aid and navigate through the system and graduate. She was a strong advocate for all Native Hawaiian students.
Fed up with O'ahu, Colette returned to Moloka'i and started the work to protect her island home from the development that was ruining O'ahu. First, she worked with Alu Like and then established the alternative education program, Kapapa Honua O Keawanui with Kamehameha Schools. It is at this time that she deep dove into the work to famously “Keep Moloka'i Moloka'i,” working alongside of Dr. Noa Emmett Aluli, Judy and Sherman Napoleon, Joyce Kainoa, Wren Wescoat, Adolph Helm and Leiala and Jane Lee as Hui Ala Loa to stop the development at West Moloka'i and save the island’s scarce water resources for the homesteaders. “We saved Kaiaka from becoming a restaurant and protected the fishing ko’a and sites at Kawakiu,” said Dr. Noa Emmett Aluli.
They also started Na Lima Hana O Na 'Opio, involving youth in reopening lo’i kalo in Mana'e, learning from taro farmers in Ke'anae-Waluanui and Waipi'o. Colette helped found Malama Manae, Ka Leo O Mana'e, Kako'o Kawela, Malama Moloka'i and Ke Kua'aina Hanauna Hou – all successful in protecting Moloka'i lands and wai from devleopment. Around this time, she met the love of her life, her husband, Myron Akutagawa, a descendant of taro farmers from Wailau Valley.
Across the channel, Colette and Hui Ala Loa successfully organized the Aloha 'Aina movement to stop the bombing and all military use of the island of Kaho’olawe. She continued to play a critical role in the Protect Kaho'olawe 'Ohana and later served on the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission.
Islandswide, Colette served on the State Land Use Commissionand the Hawaiian Homes Commission, preparing her to run forthe Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Her husband, Myron says, “Colette gave her best for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), serving as the trustee for the islands of Moloka'i and Lana'i for six terms from 1996 through 2020 and Chairperson of the Board of Trustees from 2010 to 2014 and 2017 through 2020.” While a trustee, Colette was key in the acquisition of Wao Kele O Puna, Kukaniloko Birthing stones and the Palauea Cultural Preserve. She brokered the acquisition of the Kaka'ako Makai lands, that generates $4.6 million annually and can ultimately generate $200 million. She also sponsored an OHA resolution to fund the kia'i of Mauna A Wakea and the filing of a civil suit challenging UH management of the mauna. During her tenure at OHA the organization became the 14th largest landowner in Hawai'i and the trust fund grew to $600 million.
As an OHA trustee, Colette was all about serving the people of Moloka'i and Lana'i and the majority from these islandsreciprocated by always voting for her. From funding a dyalisis station in Kalaupapa for Uncle Henry Nalaielua and other patients, to funding a state-of-the-art extension of the Moloka'i General Hospital serving the whole island, no need was too small or too large.
Colette’s heart continued to be in grassroots community organzing and advocacy with the Protect Kaho'olawe 'Ohana and Moloka'i groups at the forefront of protecting Hawai'i's lands and cultural resources, such as stopping the disinterment of hundreds of iwi kupuna at Honokohau, Maui. She was also a member of Ka 'Ohana o Kalaupapa and the Ho'olehua Hawaiian Civic and was the founding president of the Moloka'i Land Trust. Colette and Myron really made their mark in the islandswide movement for community-based economic development from Waiahole to Kipahulu. After saving the Puko'o lagoon from resort development, they initiated aquaculture, cultivating and marketing a popular native long ogolimu identified by Isabella Abbott as Gracilaria Parvispora (not to be confused with gorilla ogo).
Colette has come full circle in her life's journey, joining her ancestors in the embrace of her heavenly father in whom she believed as a faithful Christian. In her own words, “I love Moloka'i. It is my 'aina hanau, land of my birth, land of my kupuna kahiko and my kulaiwi where I will remain when I hala.”
Colette Machado’s legacy is for the generations – in what she worked tirelessly to accomplish for Moloka'i, Lana'i, Kaho'olawe and the OHA and DHHL beneficiaries. Hali'a aloha our fearless leader for Moloka'i and the Lahui, with a kind and generous heart and boundless aloha for 'ohana and the people of Moloka'i. An Aloha 'Aina, a mana wahine and wahine ko'a.
**E kala mai, we are still awaiting for Member Planet to fulfill our request for the proper diacritical marks for 'olelo Hawai'i.