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Native Hawaiian board forms to protect Kawananakoa’s foundation

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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 2015

Abigail Kawananakoa

In the latest twist to the court battle over Abigail Kawananakoa’s fortune, a newly formed Abigail KK Kawananakoa Foundation board of directors is seeking to insert itself into the case in an effort to protect the Native Hawaiian charity that was planned to be underwritten by about half of the Campbell Estate heiress’s $215 million trust fund after her death.

“It would be a great tragedy if the moneys that Abigail Kawananakoa wanted to give to the foundation for the Hawaiian people was misused or squandered,” said Lilikala Kame‘eleihiwa, director and professor at the University of Hawaii’s Center for Hawaiian Studies.

Kame‘eleihiwa is one of three prominent Hawaiians who joined the foundation’s board of directors. The other two are board President Oswald Stender, the former Kamehameha Schools and Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee, and Jan Dill, founder and president of the Partners in Development Foundation.

Represented by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., the board filed its initial court submittal Thursday. Next week it plans to seek a postponement of a key hearing to allow it to catch up on the 4,000-plus pages of filings previously submitted in the Probate Court case.

The foundation board was formed with the help of successor trustee James Wright, who petitioned the court for control of the estate, with the assets frozen in place, following the stroke Kawananakoa suffered last year. It was an action that was spelled out in a successorship plan previously set up by the heiress in case she became incapacitated.

But Veronica Gail Worth, Kawananakoa’s life partner of more than 20 years and now wife, challenged the declaration, insisting that Kawananakoa, 92, is mentally capable of handling her own affairs.

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