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Protecting the ‘aina is a priority for Maui Representative

When the Hawai‘i Supreme Court ordered that there be an injunction to prevent the State from selling “ceded lands” from the public land trust last year, the Justices correctly acknowledged the State’s fiduciary duty to preserve those lands until the unrelinquished claims of Native Hawaiians have been resolved.

The Hawai‘i Supreme Court, citing the 1993 Apology Resolution by Congress as well as State legislation, said that given the crucial importance of the ‘aina to the Native Hawaiian people and their culture, their religion, their economic self-sufficiency, and their sense of personal and community well-being, any further diminishment of the “ceded lands” from the public lands trust will negatively impact the contemplated reconciliation and settlement efforts between native Hawaiians and the State.

It is imperative not just for native Hawaiians, but all of Hawai‘i’s people that a moratorium on the selling of “ceded lands” remain in place to preserve this process of reconciliation.

As Chairwoman of the House Hawaiian Affairs Committee and Chairwoman of the Legislative Hawaiian Caucus, which consists of six State Senators and 22 State Representatives, I have kept an open and transparent discussion to educate lawmakers on the cultural, emotional, and inherent significance of these “ceded lands” to the Hawaiian people.

In late January 2009, the Caucus supported a full moratorium on the selling of “ceded lands” and introduced a bill that became the Caucus’ priority as part of a legislative package.

I have also provided an ongoing forum through the Caucus “Kukakuka” meetings as well as heard and passed out measures to address the moratorium issue, which involved the public in the discourse and allowed lawmakers to hear arguments from different sides of the “ceded lands” debate.

With the start of the 2009 Legislative Session, I’ve had discussions with Gov. Linda Lingle, Attorney General Mark Bennett, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Chair Micah Kane, Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustees Haunani Apoliana, Walter Heen, Oswald Ostender, Collette Machado, and Robert Lindsey, OHA’s Administrator Clyde Namu‘o as well as OHA’s attorney Bill Maheula, regarding the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on “ceded lands.”

Other members of the Hawaiian community who I had discussions with about the moratorium are the Royal Order of Kamehameha Ali‘i Nui Clifford Hashimoto and members, Hawai‘i attorney Sherry Broder, The Reinstated Hawaiian Government Prime Minister Henry Noa, Aha Kiole Representatives, Association of Hawaiian Civics Clubs President Leimomi Kahn, Hula Kumu Vicky Takamine-Holt of Iliuokalani and many, many others.

The legislative fight for a moratorium is one that has united kupuna, native Hawaiians, lawmakers, communities, and activists from across the state. The resounding support to bar the selling of “ceded lands” until the reconciliation process can take place is not simply there to institute a legal measure. The powerful emotions and voices that have emerged from our Kukakuka with Hawai‘i’s community reflect the willingness of Hawai‘i’s people to continue to move forward with this healing process and to protect the lands for future generations.

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