(BIVN) – The Office of Hawaiian Affairs on Thursday heard all about the disputed ownership of the Mauna Kea Access Road.
Edward Halealoha Ayau testified during the OHA Board of Trustees meeting in Hilo, and explained how – no matter what the state says – the access road that ascends the mountain over Hawaiian Home Lands is not under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Transportation. Ayau says its a matter of law.
On August 30, the Department of the Attorney General opined that the Mauna Kea Access Road “is under the control and jurisdiction of DOT,” which has controlled and maintained the road since it became part of the state highways system in 2018.
The issue of jurisdiction became an issue when the standoff over the Thirty Meter Telescope heated up in July, and the Mauna Kea Access Road was closed by the state to make way for TMT construction crews. Opponents of the TMT project, however, took control of road before the heavy machinery could be moved. Law enforcement has thus far been unable to clear the road.
An August 14th State Senate Hawaiian Affairs Committee meeting inflamed the debate, especially when Hilo State Senator Kai Kahele questioned the validity of the state’s jurisdiction claims.
The state says Act 14 (1995) resolved all claims concerning the use of Hawaiian home lands for public roads and highways built before and after statehood. However, Kahele – and Ayau – say certain conditions of the settlement were never met, and that the deal is therefore void.
Ayau has already given the state notice that he and three other beneficiaries intend to sue over the alleged breach of trust relating to the disputed road.
The other parties who signed the notice of intent are Pualani Kanakaʻole Kanahele, Samuel Kaleikoa Ka’eo, and Keliʻi “Skippy” Ioane.