(BIVN) – The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is cracking down on the “Aloha Safety Checkpoint” and the Hale Kūhiō set up by the Mauna Kea Access Road, beneficiaries say.
Speaking out at Monday night’s community meeting in Keaukaha, Beneficiary Trust Council kanaka rangers told the audience they were recently told to take down the small structure. The meeting was organized by State Senator Kai Kahele and County Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy, and held in the absence of a scheduled DHHL meeting, apparently postponed due to last week’s threat from Tropical Storm Olivia.
“Dear Mr. Wilson,” Kalaniakea Wilson read, holding a letter he received from DHHL. “It is been brought to my attention that you are owner of the illegal dwelling / structure posted on the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands property on Mauna Kea.”
“That’s the problem,” Wilson said, “DHHL is calling me illegal for taking down numbers.”
Wilson was one of the primary organizers of the “Aloha Safety Checkpoint” and the kanaka ranger effort, started on Prince Kūhiō Day as a part of the next phase of “Aina Mauna Solution”.
“Our dedication of Hale o Kūhiō as an Aloha Safety Checkpoint is the first phase of community-lead Malama Aina programming by our beneficiaries to maintain a presence and better manage roughly 1/3rd of the total DHHL lands, some of the most important and critical cultural and natural resources in the Hawaiian islands,” an early statement read. “Starting with gathering invaluable data that has never been produced here, monitoring an accurate number of daily vehicles and visitors to the Aina Mauna and instilling a sense of protocol for these lands, the [Beneficiary Trust Council] will also be working with the Department on developing the necessary partnerships and programs for kanaka to serve and protect the health and safety of this Aina Hoopulapula.”
The Beneficiary Trust Council said it was inspired by “our Alii’s work and compelled to honor his legacy as well as remedy the over 27,000 native Hawaiian beneficiaries currently waiting for a chance on our national lands.”
But DHHL never sanctioned the effort, and apparently targeted Hale Kūhiō in a notice sent to Wilson. “I inform you to remove your structure immediately,” Wilson continued reading from the letter Monday night. “Should you fail to do so, the Department of Hawaiian homelands will take measures permitted by law to remove the structure and confiscate the structure and further trespassing actions will be taken against you.”
“I was surprised to find out,” Sen. Kahele said of the take-down notice. “We were there last Monday. When I drove by ’em never look like the structure I had seen for about 4 months. When I came down from the Mauna, then I found out, I realized, that [Hale Kūhiō] was taken down a few days ago. But it had been rebuilt, not how it was before. But that’s one of the questions I have, is the protocol in removing that structure.”
“So we’re gonna find out,” Kahele said, in reference to the upcoming DHHL meetings, rescheduled for next week in Hilo.
The legal notice stirred the passions of other Beneficiary Trust Council members. “I’m here for the department and this breach of trust that’s been going on far too long,” said Kepa Kaeo during the meeting, “and I hope you guys can get the governor involved because it’s like Uncle Sonny, Kahikinui, everybody down the line. We ready to get arrested. And this data is on behalf of the whole state. How much people go up here? How much do-do coming off that mountain, on down to Hawaiian home land?”
“All these people need to be fired on the spot,” Kaeo said of DHHL. “All you have to do is have to give back their their paychecks already.”