(BIVN) – Members of the Moku o Keawe Beneficiary Trust Council and Kanaka Rangers spoke out during the Hawaiian Homes Commission meeting in Hilo on Monday, confronting Chair William Ailā with testimony so passionate that, at times, the chair had to call recess to restore order.
Both Kepa Kaeo and Laniakea Wilson, who have been working to find solutions on the Aina Mauna Legacy lands since 2014, got the gavel from Chair Ailā.
“I just gotta ask you guys to dismantle you guys’ illegal gigs, and just return the land to the kanakas,” said Kaeo, to applause from the crowded Grand Naniloa Hotel Crown Room. “You guys need to start acting accordingly. Stop breaking all these federal laws.”
“Beneficiaries, do we support the transfer of any land from the Hawaiian Home Lands trust to the State of Hawaiʻi?” Wilson asked the crowd after his testimony time ran out and his microphone was cut off. The answer from the crowd was a thunderous “no”.
“I’m gonna wrap it up real quick before you hit that hammer,” said Lākea Trask during his three-minute testimony. “Please bring that hammer up to Hawaiian Home Lands and help us build Hawaiian homes with it.”
The dispute between the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the group of beneficiaries has intensified as the conflict over the Thirty Meter Telescope planned for Mauna Kea drags on.
There are still hard feeling over DHHL’s dismantling of the Hale Kūhiō ranger station on the Mauna Kea Access Road in June 2019, which was done on the same day that the state announced it had issued a Notice to Proceed with the construction of the TMT.
“Thank you to William Ailā for deciding to bring in the TMT issue into the Hawaiian Home Lands issue,” Trask said. “Because before that was separate.”
“I’m up here to call everybody out, for you guys coming down to Hale Kūhiō and taking away my house,” said homesteader Malani Alameda.
“When is that Aina Mauna Legacy gonna take place?” asked Alameda. “It’s been… almost 10 years, already. I stand over here shaking in my shoes, brah. Because Aina Mauna Legacy is supposed to be for us, and the rehabilitation and the betterment of the conditions of us Native Hawaiians.”
“I hope you know, come March 26, Lā Kūhiō, I’m putting that hale back up, with or without your consent,” Alameda told the commission.
“As one kanaka now, we no can even go up to the mountain for even go provide for our ʻohana, for put kaukau on a table,” said hunter Scott Spencer. “We cannot. I cannot. I tried. I cannot.”
Big Island Video News will be featuring more public testimony from Monday’s Hawaiian Homes Commission meeting.