HONOLULU – State Representatives passed two resolutions through committee on Monday requesting stakeholders collaborate on the future stewardship and preservation of Waipi‘o Valley.
Bishop Museum is planning to sell its assets in Waipi’o Valley, reported to be a total of 537 acres. The House resolutions state that the planned sale is creating “uncertainty and anxiety for the taro farming families of Waipi‘o Valley”, many of whom lease the Bishop Museum lands.
RELATED VIDEO: January 2016
HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION
REQUESTING COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS FOR STEWARDSHIP AND PRESERVATION OF WAIPI‘O VALLEY.
WHEREAS, the Legislature finds that Waipi‘o Valley, located on Hawai‘i Island, is an area with great cultural, historical, genealogical, and agricultural significance; and
WHEREAS, Waipi‘o Valley is a revered wahi pana, or sacred place, and has served as a cultural and demographic center for the Native Hawaiian culture for many centuries, housing precious resources including multiple heiau, an extensive taro lo‘i and auwai system, fishponds, burial sites, ocean culture, and incomparable scenic beauty; and
WHEREAS, the Task Force to Preserve Waipi‘o Valley, formed pursuant to House Resolution No. 277, Regular Session of 1990, found a need to protect and preserve the cultural, aesthetic, and agricultural integrity of Waipi‘o Valley and identified several concerns including:
(1) Health and safety issues arising from a lack of public facilities and substandard infrastructure aggravated by unregulated access into the valley;
(2) Demographic changes on Hawai‘i Island and in the Hāmākua region impacting the natural and cultural resources of the valley; and
(3) Environmental concerns related to stream management and flood control to preserve and protect life and property; and
WHEREAS, the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Department of Urban and Regional Planning compiled community planning and ahupua‘a management reports in 1999 and 2000 and offered possible solutions to many of the issues identified; and
WHEREAS, the Waipi‘o Valley Stakeholders Alliance (WVSA) was formed in July 2015, and includes representation from the Waipi‘o Taro Farmers Association, Waipi‘o Community Circle, and Hā Ola O Waipi‘o Valley, their voices representing the many perspectives of the Waipi‘o community; and
WHEREAS, WVSA works collaboratively with various community resource partners to proactively implement solutions to issues that have negatively impacted the valley, including addressing road access and safety issues and implementation of the Waipi‘o Valley Stream Management Plan; and
WHEREAS, the Bishop Museum has owned and managed five hundred and thirty-seven acres of Waipi‘o Valley property, representing approximately sixty per cent of the valley floor, for the past one hundred thirty years and has publicly announced its intent to sell its interest in order to enable the museum to move forward with a new strategic management plan; and
WHEREAS, the land, which is divided into approximately one hundred tax map key parcels, contains a majority of the taro growing lands as well as significant cultural sites such as Pāka‘alana Heiau; and
WHEREAS, most of the taro production lands are leased to Waipi‘o families, many of whom have cared for their ‘āina for many generations, and the announcement by Bishop Museum to sell their lands has created a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety for the taro farming families of Waipi‘o Valley and the future of their beloved and well-cared for farms; and
WHEREAS, WVSA is fully committed to take the lead on stewardship efforts to transition the Bishop Museum lands, and is currently working with many stakeholders, community leaders from groups who have experienced similar situations, and others who have expertise in land acquisition and land management to identify possible options that will both ensure that Bishop Museum can remain solvent and continue its important work caring for Hawai‘i’s cultural treasures, while at the same time honoring Waipi‘o Valley’s past, present, and future to ensure that the land remains in the loving, caring hands of the Waipi‘o families as it has for centuries; now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the House of Representatives of the Twenty-eighth Legislature of the State of Hawai‘i, Regular Session of 2016, the Senate concurring, that Waipi‘o Valley Stakeholders Alliance is requested to coordinate with the Bishop Museum, Kamehameha Schools, Friends of the Future, County of Hawai‘i, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Trust For Public Land, State of Hawai‘i, and other interested parties who may be invited by WVSA to provide their guidance and mana‘o regarding the future preservation and stewardship of Waipi‘o Valley; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that WVSA is requested to submit a report of the results of stewardship meetings including findings, recommendations, and any proposed legislation, to the Legislature no later than twenty days prior to the commencement of the 2017 Regular Session; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the Governor, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Hawai‘i State Director of the Trust for Public Land, Mayor of the County of Hawai‘i, Community Liaison of Waipi‘o Valley Stakeholders Alliance, President of Bishop Museum, Chair of Kamehameha Schools, and President of Friends of the Future.