28 Sep 2016

Hawaiian group welcomes US recognition

11:33 am on 28 September 2016

A prominent native Hawaiian says moves to allow the state's indigenous population to choose whether to form a unified government is a huge development.

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Photo: Copyright: kamchatka / 123RF Stock Photo

The United States last week announced that native Hawaiians are now eligible for federal recognition, and can choose to form a body to enter into formal government-to-government relations with the US.

It would be the first time the Native Hawaiian community had their own government since their kingdom was overthrown in 1893, a move that led to US annexation in 1898.

The president of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, Annelle Amaral, said she is overjoyed by the announcement, which has been decades in the making.

"It means that finally the indigenous people of Hawaii are recognised by the federal government," she said.

"They have never formally recognised us as the people. And the other thing it means as that we will finally have sovereignty, we will finally have a full-throated voice."

Ms Amaral said the community is already working to establish a unified government.

She said the community was looking at a constitution and working hard to meet the other requirements for recognition.

"I think there's a threshold of 150,000 have to participate in the ratification of the governing document and the election of their people, and we have in in total 300,000 - so that's a participation rate of half.

"The indigenous people are being held to a pretty high standard but that's OK, we can do this."