Lawsuit alleges state misuse of Maunakea Access Road

A lawsuit was filed Thursday against the state contending that several state departments have violated their duties by using the Maunakea Access Road without the consent of native Hawaiians.

The lawsuit, filed by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, argues that the Hawaiian Homes Commission and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands did nothing to prevent the unpermitted use of lands at the Maunakea Access Road, which were specifically set aside to benefit native Hawaiians. It also argues that the state departments of Transporation and Land and Natural Resources do not have proper authority to use Hawaiian home lands.

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The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three Hawaiian community leaders on the Big Island: Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele, Halealoha Ayau and Keli‘i “Skippy” Ioane.

“The State’s use of and failure to pay for this valuable stretch of land deprives our home lands trust of needed land and revenues to help put the 28,000 native Hawaiians currently on waiting lists on homesteads,” read a joint statement from the three plaintiffs. “They simply took the land in the 1960s without proper permission from the Hawaiian Homes Commission and without consulting with beneficiaries.”

As restitution, the lawsuit seeks to force the state to compensate DHHL for its past use of the Maunakea Access Road lands and to halt any further uncompensated use of those lands until both the state and DHHL act solely in the interests of the land’s native Hawaiian beneficiaries.

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“We firmly believe that only the [Hawaiian Homes] Commission can regulate and manage the [access road], and only if it acts in the exclusive interests of its native Hawaiian beneficiaries,” the statement from the plaintiffs read.

See Saturday’s edition of West Hawaii Today for the full story.

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