Judge dismisses 1 of 2 OHA claims

HILO — A Honolulu Circuit Court judge dismissed one of two claims the Office of Hawaiian Affairs made against the University of Hawaii and state Department of Land and Natural Resources over management of Maunakea.

The lawsuit, filed in November 2017, alleges UH is in violation of its general lease for the 11,228-acre Maunakea Science Reserve.

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OHA’s claims were breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract. The judge dismissed the latter, according to UH.

Regarding the fiduciary claim, the agency alleges UH is failing to fulfill its trust duties for ceded lands.

OHA said it is pleased to be able to continue the lawsuit on the remaining claim against the state for its “longstanding and well-documented failures as stewards of Maunakea.”

“After 50 years of empty promises to the mauna and our community, the state must be held accountable,” the statement said. “Maunakea deserves better.”

In a statement, UH said it is pleased one of two claims were dismissed, and that it believes the remaining claim is without merit.

“For two decades now, UH has made great strides in its management of Maunakea since a critical state audit in 1998,” the university said.

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It quoted a 2014 audit that stated: “UH has developed several management plans that provide a comprehensive framework for managing and protecting Maunakea while balancing the competing interests of culture, conservation, scientific research and recreation.”

OHA has faced critical audits recently over its spending practices.

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