La`au Point

Niu Ola Hiki – Life giving Coconut

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

One of the ancient stories of Hawaii tells of a young Hawaiian boy, Kahanaiakeakua, son of Hina and Ku. The father has gone to Kahiki (Tahiti) and the boy longs to meet up with his father who he has not seen for some time.  

The boy asks his mother Hina for help. Hina then chants to their ancestor, the coconut tree. She sings, "niu ola hiki”, oh life giving coconut "niu loa hiki”, oh far traveling coconut. Suddenly a coconut sprouts in front of her. 

She wakes her son and tells him to climb the tree and hold on, while she continues chanting. The coconut sways and bends, it stretches and grows over the ocean until its crown comes down. At last the strong leaves rest on Kahiki where the boy is reunited with the father. 

There are many versions of this mo’olelo but always the coconut tree is pictured as a stretching tree with great mana, bearing the image of Ku, the ancestor of the Hawaiian people. 

The coconut tree offers a pathway to another world, and serves as the bridge between man and God, earth and heaven, child and ancestors. This tree is a path to the sacred land and therefore the staff of life. 

“After 111 years bearing the name of Molokai Ranch, no mahalos and no aloha ’oe” wrote Napua Leong in a recent letter to the editor.  Instead, on April 9th at 6:30 in the morning, residents of Kepuhi were awakened to the sound of chainsaws cutting down the West End’s largest and only stand of coconut trees. Almost thirty healthy and mature trees cut in two days.  

I spoke to residents on the West End over the course of a couple of days. Through those events my eyes were opened as I came to understand the connection which most of these folks have for these majestic trees.  

For most, the senseless removal of something so beautiful was more than they could bear. Just as it is with the loss of a loved one, it was a sense of permanent absence etched in the hearts of the people.  

Suddenly after so many years these trees were no more. Why? 

This intentional reckless act by Molokai Ranch wasn’t only about cutting trees; it was about going after the heart and soul of the people. Similar to the firing of Ranch employees, the intent was to take something valuable away from the people. The intent was to break the spirit of our people.   

No effort was ever put out to communicate with the community as to how to deal with what the Ranch claimed as “liabiity issues.” The intent, as one resident stated, was about intimidation, retribution, and getting a pound of flesh from an island that did not support MPL’s overreaching plan. What’s worse, many of those who supported Molokai Ranch were the ones most victimized. 

On April 9, I think most of us had hoped that the Ranch employees working that day would have walked off. But the real blame lies with Peter Nicholas who ordered workers to do his dirty work. Ranch employees were faced with the possibility of their finances being reduced even further should they have refused to cooperate.  

Large offshore businesses controlling the conscience and will of their employees is a curse. Can you imagine the Kanemitsu or Egusa family ever assuming this kind of immoral authority? Of course not! They, their children and their grandchildren are a part of this community.  

We must learn from the mistakes of the past and in looking forward, we as a community, are the one’s responsible for molding our future. We can no longer rely on those with deep pockets to some how take care of us or assume that they have our interest at heart. It is essential that our children are educated and understand the values of our culture.  

These values must be embedded in their na’au so that when the really difficult decisions must be made, they will know which way to go. 

Despite the tragedies of the last couple of weeks, Peter Nicholas, John Sabas and the other executives of Molokai Ranch are absolutely wrong. We may be deeply saddened but they will never break our spirit. We are Molokai and despite our differences, We are ‘ohana.  

I mua! 

Steve  Morgan/ Hui Ho’opakele ‘Aina

Updated: Ranch Cuts More Than Just Jobs

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Updated: Ranch Cuts More Than Just Jobs

Molokai Ranch communications manager John Sabas said they are cutting "older trees that aren’t doing so well." However, many of the palms, including the one pictured, were bountiful with coconuts, healthy, and thriving.

Destructive measures in the wake of closure.

Photo and Story By Brandon Roberts

Kaluakoi residents awoke Wednesday to the sound of rain and falling coconut palms. Up to 30 trees have been killed to make barriers around the golf course, and this has many Molokai residents wondering why.

“This is just so sad, it looks like a war-zone with all the beautiful trees down,” said Jody Canady, Ke Nani Kai resident of 27 years. “They could have at least had the courtesy to tell us.”

She believes that Molokai Ranch is doing this as retribution for the failure of the La`au development.

Canady's husband Darryl, former president of the West Molokai Association, said that the Ranch shutdown and subsequent hacking of healthy trees has been a “festering, ongoing, and growing situation for many years.” Mrs. Canady added that the horrible situation has hope, “it brings us together in the community.”

The Canady’s echoed many West End residents’ sentiments that what respect the Ranch and Peter Nicholas may have had has all but disappeared. One resident of 18 years said that they should be put in jail.

“When the La`au proposal started, I gave the Ranch the benefit of the doubt, but it divided the community, and when I saw Peter Nicholas get ugly, I said, 'this is not the way a business person should act, this is wrong'. I did not respect the way Nicholas treated the members of the community,” Canady said with sadness.

“Walter Ritte was wonderful today,” Canady said. She made a phone call to Ritte, a community leader against the La`au development, the night before to express her concern and emotions about the destruction on the West End.

Ritte told communications manager John Sabas that he would bring the Ranch all the kiawe trees they wanted to barricade the vacant golf course. However, Sabas reportedly said he preferred to use the coconuts.

“They just don’t care, not one ounce,” expressed an emotional Carol Harms, Kaluakoi resident. She pointed toward a standing group of dead coconut trees wondering why live palms were used instead to make the ineffective barriers.

Historically in Hawaii, it was an act of war and disrespect to cut down coconut palms. The trees are a source of life, producing food, water, shade, and holding precious land from erosion.

The Hawaiian Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement said it was on private property and out of their jurisdiction.

"The Ranch is lacking aloha," said Representative Mele Carroll. "It is not about private property, this is our home. It shows where their heart is."

Meanwhile, in Maunaloa, the swimming pool at The Lodge, which just last week held blue waters and happy vacationers, is now full of sand. The Lodge itself has been wrapped in hog fencing, and many now wonder if this is a new definition of “mothballing”.

Many questions arise as to the legality of recent Ranch activities. Did the Ranch need permits for these actions? The back-filling of the pool and the chopping of a healthy Norfolk pine next to the Lodge to clear a path for a dump truck to access the pool, as well as the killing of vibrant coconut palms are all questionable. Many on Molokai are empty and in pain, wondering what motives and intent the Ranch has behind their destructive and disrespectful actions.

Captain Molokai

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Captain Molokai

Fight to preserve Molokai remains the same, 20 years later.

In 1988, a mystery writer who called himself Captain Molokai, began writing a regular column in the Molokai Dispatch. The author wrote editorials that were as honest and factual as they were outspoken and critical of corporate control of Molokai land. Two decades later, this individual still lives on Molokai and continues his fight to keep Molokai, Molokai.

Although the following Captain Molokai article was written more than 20 years ago, its message more than applies to present day concerns on Molokai.

Aloha! I’m Captain Molokai. I’ve been on Molokai longer than most people would believe, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Molokai is the best place in the United States, maybe the world, to live, work and raise a family.

There is a lot of love, a lot of caring; a lot of sharing; a lot of spiritual energy; a lot of neighbor helping neighbor; and a lot of other good things we value but sometimes take for granted.

You hear a lot of talk about jobs and progress, but most of that talk doesn’t focus on the quality of those jobs, how many jobs are needed, or what progress means to Molokai, and what impact that progress has on the current lifestyle that families enjoy so much.

What does progress mean on Molokai? Does it mean haphazard uncontrolled growth? One hotel? 5 hotels? A traffic light? A Burger King? More condos? More Crime? An exclusive country club playground for the world’s rich and famous?

Progress on Molokai, some say means controlled growth at the local level; preserving community traditions; creating a more diverse economy; promoting better and more meaningful job situations; maintaining affordable housing for future generations; protecting our ocean and other natural resources; and providing our children with higher education opportunities.

The three basic groups that Capt. Molokai is referring to are: 1. BIG FOREIGN LAND OWNERS: This group includes Molokai Ranch, Tokyo Kosan, Bishop Estate, and the boys from New York that bought Murphy Ranch. 2. A FEW MOLOKAI LANDOWNERS AND BUSINESSES. 3. NEWCOMERS TO MOLOKAI: These are the ones who come to Molokai and say they are in love with the Friendly Isle. However, as soon as they get here they want to change Molokai so they can enjoy many of the conveniences they had on the mainland.

At this point, the strategies of what I see as three basic, self-serving groups with their own agendas are to 1) develop plans they intend to pursue with token input from the Molokai community; 2) build support for those plans away from Molokai by using their influence, or “connected” high priced lawyers, to lobby the Governor and State agencies on Oahu or the Mayor and County Department heads on Maui; and 3) once everything is in place, then come back to Molokai and use the old “divide and conquer” routine which is to throw a few crumbs or some money to a few people or groups on Molokai in an effort to buy support for their project knowing that community members will end up fighting among each other.

Capt. Molokai is not anti-growth; he’s just concerned with who is going to determine Molokai’s growth rate, and how that growth will be allowed to impact those unique tangible and intangible values that Molokai is still lucky enough to have.

Don’t sell out for the quick fix. It hasn’t worked in the past and it won’t work now.

The various Molokai factions, and those community members who have something to say but tend not to get involved, are all going to have to come together and agree on where they want the community to go, and make that position known real clear to the big-time guys rollin’ into Molokai. If the community doesn’t take the lead, then the aggressive investor groups will inherit the power to determine the direction of Molokai’s future based on their values, and not our values.

Molokai-Return to Pono

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Molokai Action Team Unite!

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Molokai Action Team Unite!

Senator J. Kalani English shares his mana`o with the Molokai Action Team on the economic future of the Friendly Isle.

Agencies come together for the island’s future.

By Brandon Roberts

In the wake of the Molokai Ranch closure, the Friendly Isle’s economic future rests in the hands of the community. State, county, and local representatives were brought together to find short and long-term approaches to economic stability, and assist the Ranch employees.

The Molokai Action Team (MAT) was created by Governor Linda Lingle and facilitated by Abbey Mayer, the newly appointed Director of the Hawaii Office of Planning. MAT held its first meeting, which was open to the public, April 7 at Kulana `Oiwi.

“The function of this group is not to be dictating to Molokai what should happen,” Mayer explained. “What happens here must be from the bottom up.”

The team consists of 13 state, county, and community officials, and their kuleana is workforce development and job creation for Molokai. The Ranch, whose actions lead to the team's conception, declined to participate in the meetings.

“The main advantages I see this action team bringing are collaborations among different levels of the community and government,” Mayer said, relying on community leaders for public outreach.

Maui County Councilman Danny Mateo believes the success of MAT begins with the inclusion of the Molokai residents. Mateo believes Molokai should be the piko of Hawaiian agriculture. He suggested the state look at relocating the Department of Agriculture to Molokai.

“We need to offer a hand up, not a hand out,” Mateo said, emphasizing that many unfilled county jobs have already been funded.

Homesteader Walter Ritte and OHA trustee Colette Machado both agreed that the state must be transparent in their inter-agency actions, as well as their dealings with the Ranch. Mayer concurred that MAT is currently limited without more information from the Ranch.

“This is a way to bring the community back together,” said Representative Mele Carroll. “We need to start healing.” She concurred with Mayer and Mateo that a viable, acceptable plan must be created and engaged by the community.

Rep. Carroll feels very positive about the meeting, yet she is worried about Ranch employees, especially those with mortgages, health care needs, and families. “We have very resourceful people on the team; my focus is on the implementation.”

She is also very interested in following ideas presented by the Molokai Livestock Cooperative general manager, and Ho`olehua homesteader, Kammy Purdy. The Co-op has shelves ready to be stocked, and would like to use fenced homestead lands to raise cattle. Molokai Ranch has 500 head of cattle that will soon be homeless.

Senator J. Kalani English said there are immediate solutions that do not need legislative action. English created the Emergency Environmental Work Force and believes it can be partnered with the Nature Conservancy, and other organizations, to provide instantaneous island employment.

“There is a genuine sense of just what is at stake,” English said. “What is on the table is the ability to deliver.”

MAT will meet again, May 5, at 11 a.m. in the DHHL conference room at Kulana `Oiwi.

The team consists of Senator J. Kalani English, Representative Mele Carroll, OHA trustee Colette Machado, Jo-ann Ridao (Office of the Mayor), Councilman Danny Mateo, Henry Oliva (Department of Human Services), Ray Foster (Monsanto), Stacy Crivello (Molokai Enterprise Community), Barbara Kalipi (QLCC), Kammy Purdy (Ho`olehua Homestead Association), Barbara Haliniak (Molokai Chamber of Commerce), Janice Kalanihuia (Governor’s Molokai Community Advisory Council), and Jimmy Duvauchelle (Maunaloa ‘Ohana Community Association).

Molokai Ranch has finally shown their true colors

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

The swiftness of Molokai Ranch's closure is certainly a shock, but the shutdown itself is not really a surprise. Molokai Ranch has finally shown their true colors. Since they couldn't shove their unwanted development down the throat of this community, they will now take it out on their own workers, while blaming the development opposition for the "need" to do this.
  Indeed, the Ranch states in their press release: "Unacceptable delays caused by continued opposition to every aspect of the Master Plan means we are unable to fund continued normal company operations." But this is simply not true. The community did not object to "every aspect" of the Plan; rather, the community objected to the La'au development aspect of the Plan. Indeed, we have been consistent from the start in saying the there are many good parts of the Plan (which the community itself put a lot of work into creating), but that developing La'au is simply unacceptable.

Aloha to the MPL Employees

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Aloha to the MPL employees,                                                March 27, 2008                             

I feel that MPL’s selfish decision to close down and lay-off all their employees to prove a point is typical of a wealthy corporate bully. Guoco, MPL’s mother company, made a net profit of six billion dollars last year.

This is the perfect opportunity for the MPL victims to take advantage of offers that will come their way.  On Moloka`i there is a need for educators, nurses, social workers, computer technicians, bookkeepers and entrepreneurs. For those that are homesteaders use your land and water, get involved in agriculture, whether it is a small garden or large farm. If your 40 acres are fenced, raise cattle for your family or for the Moloka`i Livestock Cooperative. MPL has 500 head; maybe they will donate or sell their young cattle for your self-sufficiency (if they really care about their employees).

The State of Hawaii proposes to assist MPL’s former employees; they should provide scholarships for college, farm/ranch grants for homesteaders, as well as training and funding to become business entrepreneurs.  Utilize the Moloka`i Kuha`o Business Center, the Maui/Molokai Community College, the CTAHR agriculture specialist, and other available programs that will development your capacity. Don’t settle for minimum wage; don’t toil for a company that does not appreciate your true worth.  Use this situation as a motivator to improve your life and job skills. 

Ask the State of Hawaii to provide the resources that will be truly helpful and don’t settle for only an unemployment or welfare check.  I know many of you, and trust me; you are capable of fulfilling your own dreams. It’s time to think positive and journey into new ventures. Imua!!! Best wishes to you all. 

Kammy Purdy, Entrepreneur

Purdy’s Macadamia Nut Farm

Former business owner of the Kamuela’s Cookhouse and The Travel Shoppe

Administrator of the Molokai Livestock Cooperative

Failure of MPL Cannot be Blamed on the Opposition

Monday, March 31st, 2008

for operational needs" (p.115). MPL operations for the past four years appear to have been supported only by real estate sales: "Between 2003 and 2007, MPL was able to sell enough land in order that it could fund its own operating cash requirements, capital needs, master planning, and entitlement costs" (p.115).

This appears to no longer be the case. The closing of Molokai Ranch indicates its operations are no longer self-sustaining, via real-estate sales or otherwise. Peter Nicholas states that "unacceptable delays caused by continued opposition to every aspect of the Master Plan means we are unable to fund continued normal company operations". He continues to say "without the prospect of an economic future for the company that results from the implementation of all facets of the Master Plan, we are unable to continue to bear large losses from continuing these operations".

However, the "delays" in starting the implementation of the La'au Point development and other "Master Plan" activities are procedural, and not due to unforeseeable, unexpected, or unreasonable opposition to "The Plan". A final EIS has yet to be completed, as well as numerous other proceedings needed to go forward with the project. These are required by law. MPL has (or should have) known the time needed for their completion at the outset of this project. They have nothing to do with the current financial standing of MPL.

MPL blames their current financial insolvency on opposition to La'au Point. Some people have been convinced enough to blame specific individuals vocal and visible in their opposition to MPL's plan, and who are pursuing other alternatives to it. However, blaming La'au opposition fails to acknowledge the actual reasons for MPL's financial woes – a history of operating deficits, depressed real-estate and lending industries worldwide, and a parent company unwilling to continue subsidizing non-performing investments.

The unemployment resulting from the closure of Molokai Ranch operations will have a ripple effect on individuals, families, and the community at large. Emotions will run high – this is evident form the comments posted on the Molokai community newspapers' websites. I am optimistic that unproductive blame and anger can be converted into support, collaboration, and innovation in moving forward with Molokai's future.

Keith Izawa

Molokai High c/o 1999

Machado Should Look in the Mirror

Monday, March 31st, 2008


This just shows how out of touch Trustee Machado is with the Molokai people, and with reality.

At the November LUC hearings, nearly 300 Molokai community members protested against the La'au development. These activists were not "loud" (except in clapping after testimonies), nor were their voices ever "angry" or "unreasonable." On the contrary, they were full of aloha for La'au Point and Moloka'i, and their testimonies were extremely thorough and well-informed. Indeed, they spoke with a beautiful combination of knowledge and passion about the issue.

This is what LUC Commissioner Wong expressed (transcripts): “I must say that the testimony was extremely informative.  They were well prepared. And more importantly they brought to bear all of the issues.  They brought it on the table.  And the people of the community expressed their thoughts and their feelings.”

The large majority of Molokai residents (not a “minority”) were against the La’au Point development. No one wanted to see workers lose their jobs; and thus, the community tried to invite Trustee Machado and Molokai Ranch “back to the table” to find acceptable alternative solutions. They never came, and now we have a crisis.

Therefore, Miss Machado really ought to look in the mirror before casting blame on anyone else.


             Mahalo nui loa,

             Kalani Thompson


Not the People’s Fault

Monday, March 31st, 2008

It is not the fault of the people.

It is not the fault of the people of Molokai that Molokai Ranch doesn't know how to run a successful hotel in paradise.

It is not the fault of the people of Molokai that Molokai Ranch cannot run a successful golf course in the state of Hawaii.

It is not the fault of the people of Molokai that Molokai Ranch cannot run a successful Cattle operation.

It is certainly not the fault of the people of Molokai that the original purchaser of Molokai Ranch paid so much for the property.

Well Molokai Ranch, made a mistake in thinking that the people of Molokai would fall for an ill-conceived project covered with mirrors and smoke so thick The Governor and Both Senators were all bamboozled into backing this foreign investment company that owns the Molokai Ranch.

And it certainly is not the fault of the people of Molokai that this man cannot admit his mistake instead of acting like a childish brat and taking his ball and going home.

The people of Molokai will not be cowed by greedy little men from somewhere else.

Penny Spiller, Ho`olehua