Hawaiian Homes Commission convenes Monday and Tuesday

Viewpoint

The piko, or center, of the Native Hawaiian universe well may be Wailuku starting 9:30 Monday morning.

And residents and visitors alike are welcome when the Hawaiian Homes Commission (HHC) convenes Monday and Tuesday to consider Hawaiian issues and concerns on the Valley Isle and statewide. To view the agenda and a detailed “HHC Meeting Packet” for the gathering at Paukukalo Community Center, 655 Kaumuali’i St., see website DHHL.hawaii.gov and click on Hawaiian Homes Commission Meetings 2018.

The commission is a policy-making body under the auspices of the 1921 Hawaiian Homes Commission Act federal trust. The nine-member entity guides the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL), whose role is to manage 200,000 trust acres earmarked for homes and farms for those with 50 percent Hawaiian blood quantum, or trust beneficiaries.

From one Hawaiian’s “viewpoint,” the most important Maui issues include that 5,276 beneficiaries languish on waiting lists for Maui agricultural and pastoral homesteads, while DHHL permits more than 5,000 Maui ag and pastoral trust acres to non-Hawaiians, in one case for more than three decades. And, advocacy needs to be stronger for the preeminent water rights of Native Hawaiians, beneficiaries and farmers as mandated under the State Water Code.

A layperson’s guide to the two-day annual HHC Maui meeting might include two suggested sessions: The J Agenda at or after 2 p.m. Monday, when beneficiaries testify on their respective cogent matters, and 6 Monday evening, when 11 Maui homestead organizations have an opportunity to present their programs and achievements.

Possible solutions to the above-mentioned issues include to engage and educate waitlisters, and empower them to advocate for themselves by testifying at monthly HHC meetings on all major islands. To pursue such solutions, the Maui Homestead Farmers & Ranchers Association was formed, led by president Sarah Mamane Nakihei. The group’s mission is to serve and advocate for the 5,276 native Hawaiians on waitlists for Maui ag and pastoral homestead awards.

To address decades-long DHHL permitting of Valley Isle homelands to non-Hawaiians, a Maui beneficiary group seeks to repatriate 4,006 acres of Upcountry trust lands for waitlisters’ ag and pastoral use. The IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit Pa’upena Community Development Corporation has applied for a Right Of Entry, or ROE, to the acreage, to run 100 or more head of dairy or beef cattle, and to operate a 100-acre ag park to train waitlisters to farm and raise livestock. Pa’upena principals will testify about 2 p.m. Monday for DHHL and HHC to approve its 2-year-old ROE application.

To enhance beneficiary and community engagement in Hawaiian issues, Pa’upena CDC will host a Nov. 3 Maui Homestead Summit at Waiohuli homestead in Kula.

Register for the daylong event, open free to the public, at website www.paupena.org/RSVP by Oct. 25.

Regarding water and other native rights, the piko of the Hawaiian universe in three weeks will be the ballot box. The beneficiary Vote2Rise campaign urges everyone to vote in the Nov. 6 General Election. Register to vote or to receive a permanent absentee ballot at a Vote2Rise table at this weekend’s Get Out the Vote mini-concert. The grassroots event unfolds from 5 to 9 Saturday evening in the former Kmart parking lot.

* Kekoa Enomoto is a 32-year homelands beneficiary at Keokea farm lots, the very last agricultural homesteads awarded statewide, in May 1986. She chairs Pa’upena CDC.

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