LIHUE, Kauai — The Native Hawaiians who have been occupying a plot of land in Wailua for nearly a year were ordered to leave by a judge.
District Court Judge Michael Soong on Tuesday ruled in favor of development company Coco Palms Hui and ousted the group that claimed interest in the land, the Garden Island reported . Soong gave the Native Hawaiians until Sunday to leave.
Co-defendants Noa Mau-Espirito and Kamu “Charles” Hepa argued in court that they have a right to be on the land through a Supreme Court ruling that said natives have a right to use land for cultural and religious purposes. But Soong said the occupation of the property does not in this case exercise native tenants’ rights.
“Those rights are the right to access to enter another person’s property to hunt, gather, exercise traditional religious and cultural practices,” Soong said. “What the defendants are exercising in this case is much more akin to adverse possession of another person’s property.”
The Coco Palms hotel property has been shuttered since it was damaged by Hurricane Iniki in 1992. There have been several attempts by developers to restore the property, but all have been thwarted for various reasons.
Since 2012, Waters and Greene of Coco Palms Hui have been trying to develop the property, with initial plans to begin phase II of the renovation and reconstruction scheduled for early spring. The $175 million project will boast about 400 rooms, retail space, three restaurants, leisure areas and a cultural center.