Editorial: Hawaiian takes on DHHL
The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has long been under fire for its lengthy waiting list of those qualified for a homestead lot.
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The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act was intended to provide homesteads and other lands for qualifying beneficiaries — that is, those with a Native Hawaiian blood quantum of 50% or more.
However, a new complaint illustrates how the fulfillment of this mission is, yet again, very much in dispute.
The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has long been under fire for its lengthy waiting list of those qualified for a homestead lot. But now a beneficiary has said he is not getting due consideration for leased land to run a business.
Edward Maria, the beneficiary, was told repeatedly over several years that there was none in Kalaeloa for a planned trucking business, so eventually he signed with a private landlord to start it. Meanwhile, the commission approved a lease in that area for a Canadian firm.
Maria and the advocacy group Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations are seeking an administrative hearing to contest that decision. There are two sections of the enabling act that reference business-type arrangements.
Here’s the language of one: “The department is expressly authorized to negotiate, prior to negotiations with the general public, the disposition of Hawaiian home lands or any improvements thereon to a native Hawaiian, or organization or association owned or controlled by native Hawaiians, for commercial, industrial, or other business purposes.”
It will be interesting to hear the commission’s response — assuming Maria gets the hearing, as he should.