Homestead summit advances ideas

Kekoa Enomoto (from left) affirms Bobby Pahia’s advocacy for conservation, archaeological and biological assessments before starting to farm Maui farmlands. “My passion is to feed the lahui,” or Hawaiian nation, kalo farmer Pahia told the Nov. 3 Maui Homestead Summit attendees. On a panel with Pa‘upena Community Development Corp. Chairwoman Enomoto of Kula and Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations Chairwoman Robin Puanani Danner (right) of Kauai, Pahia said he produces 1,500 pounds of kalo weekly on 15 Waikapu acres to make the Hawaiian staple available for $2 a pound to consumers. The Waiohuli homesteader said he can’t keep up with demand. -- GUY GAUMONT photo

Farmers and lawmakers planted the idea of a state agricultural strategic plan at the inaugural Maui Homestead Summit on Nov. 3 when 100 participants convened at He Piko No Waiohuli Community Center at Waiohuli Hawaiian homestead in Kula. 

“Hawaiians need to hear the important messages that were shared,” said attendee Robert Masters of 808 Building Supplies & Solutions, who called the summit “a wonderful event . . . so educational.” 

The Upcountry nonprofit Pa’upena Community Development Corp. hosted the summit featuring a panel with Maui legislators Kyle Yamashita and Troy Hashimoto, Hawaii Farmers Union United Maui spokesman Vincent Mina, and Maui Country Farm Bureau representatives Warren Watanabe and Mae Nakahata. Besides a state ag strategic plan, panelists discussed the possibility of a homestead ag/ranching roundtable with legislators before or during the 2019 legislative session. 

Also, Hashimoto introduced the concept of a Heritage Farming Families initiative, like the State Historic Sites program. 

“I look forward to working and speaking with you again in the future,” said  Hashimoto of the multigenerational Hashimoto persimmon-growing family in Kula. 

The purpose of the Maui Homestead Summit was to engage, inform and empower Hawaiian beneficiaries of the 1921 Hawaiian Homes Commission Act federal trust and the community at large on ag/ranching-related topics, and on their rights, benefits and kuleana, or responsibilities, under the HHCA. The free event offered giveaways of taro shoots to plant, medicinal teas, a kalo tasting and an evening paina (party) with food and entertainment. 

Pa’upena CDC co-sponsored the Maui Homestead Summit with the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations (SCHHA). Pa’upena CDC’s mission is to provide resources and training to empower fellow Hawaiian Homes trust beneficiaries to build homes and self-sufficient communities; see website www.paupena.org.

SCHHA is the oldest and largest coalition of homestead associations unified to protect and advocate for the interests of beneficiaries of the 1921 Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. For information, contact Kekoa Enomoto, cell/text (808) 276-2713 or email paupena.kekoa@gmail.com.

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