(BIVN) – During the Hawaiian Homes Commission meeting held on Monday in Waimea, public testimony included the manaʻo of a homesteader who has been on the Humuʻula lands since 1991, who says he is “one of only three lessees on the 56,000 acres that exists up there.”
“Some of my frustration is that sometimes we feel we don’t exist,” said Richard Kaniho. “Sometimes the issues that we bring forward seem like they are not heard. Just being a person up there and being recognized, is a struggle.”
Kaniho told the commissioners that sometimes he finds out about controlled burns “from my friend driving down Saddle Road saying ‘your place is on fire.’ They’re spraying gorse from the helicopter. I don’t know until we got a landing helicopter and the guy tells us Hawaiian Homes told us to spray the gorse.”
“I was part of the ʻAina Mauna Legacy,” Kaniho said. “The first meeting right here in this very building, where there was double the people that are in this room today. And we were told: immediate interim lease. As one of 356,000 the last thing I want is to be the only kanaka on that mountain.”
“Where are the Hawaiians?” Kaniho said. “I spoke to you guys in January and Honolulu about a bigger issue that I think a lot of people here today don’t realize that is taking place on a mountain. This is beyond the feral cattle contract. This is beyond the gorse removal. This is about a non homesteader who claims that he owns all the land up there. I came to you guys in Honolulu with humility and respect, I went into deposition with your security team, and to this day not one of you guys have called me back.”
Hawaiian Homes Commission Chair William Ailā told Kaniho that things are in motion regarding the situation.
Kaniho also spoke in favor of the group that the Commission later confirmed would be awarded a contract to do feral cattle removal on the Aina Mauna lands. “The contractor supposedly was awarded the mauka contracts is pretty much getting beat up because he’s Oʻahu applicant,” Kaniho said in their defense. “The applicant lived with me, pretty much, for four years through his high school career. And was with me on Humuʻula and he helped me establish my Humuʻula homestead. He knows the mountain. He understands the mountain.”
Big Island Video News will be featuring other public testimony given at Monday’s Department of Hawaiian Home Lands meeting in Waimea.