A group claiming the authority of the Hawaiian Kingdom has again set up camp in Hilo’s Wailoa State Recreation Area and planted taro and fruit trees it describes as a “kanaka garden” on the lawn near the statue of Kamehameha the Great.
In a video posted on YouTube, Gene Tamashiro, a longtime Hawaiian sovereignty activist who identifies himself in a “investigation and order to cease &desist” document as “Hawaiian Kingdom Governance Authority,” described the demonstration Sunday as “an occupation” and urged others to join.
“We are now given the opportunity and charged with the responsibility to hold space,” Tamashiro said, while dozens of demonstrators circled behind him, some holding hands and most, if not all, maskless. He urged that actions taken by the group be done “with aloha.”
On Monday morning, the group had dwindled to a half-dozen or so, with Tamashiro noting “it’s early” and saying he expected more later in the day. Tamashiro played congas in the style of Hawaiian pahu along Kamehameha Avenue while Kaleo Zuleo, a man Tamashiro described as “our shaman,” played a small flute.
As claimed by Tamashiro and others occupying the same space and planting a kanaka garden in 2012 and 2013, he said the county and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources had taken what he described as crown lands deeded to the Hawaiian people without due process.
“They pulled the plants without due process four times,” Tamashiro said.
Police evicted activists from the park the day before the Merrie Monarch Festival Parade — which starts within the park — in April 2013, and numerous people were arrested, including Hawaiian elder Abel Lui.
Tamashiro said Kamehameha III deeded the land as “private property in the public trust.”
“Think about that. Private property protected in all those allodial rights but created in the public trust so that everyone benefits and everyone is protected in the law of the most high,” he said.
As for the timing, Tamashiro replied, “The whole world is in lockdown and myself, as you can see, I have no mask.”
Calling the government’s response to the coronavirus, “a scamdemic,” Tamashiro added, “Our research shows us that there is no actual science that confirms that the lockdown is based on the truth.”
Lindafaye Kroll, who described herself as a retired registered nurse, said she was there “supporting truth and justice.”
“Gene’s process is a pono process because it includes all of us that don’t want to be persecuted anymore from the illegal occupiers,” Kroll said. “And we are persecuted, all the time. … We’re fighting for everybody’s rights, and we’re doing it with aloha.”
DLNR enforcement officers visited the site on Sunday, and the Hawaii Police Department made one arrest at the site — Serena N. White, 21, of Pahoa, who was charged with driving without a license and insurance, disobeying a police officer and refusing to show identification.
She made her initial court appearance on Monday, was released from custody on her own recognizance, and told to return on Feb. 8.
HPD Lt. Tuckloy Aurello said White’s arrest was unrelated to the occupation of the park and demonstration. Aurello added DLNR is the lead agency in any enforcement action and county police are in a support role.
“They were documenting with photographs, and they’re going to send their case to the (attorney general’s) office, from what I understand,” Aurello said.
DLNR spokesman Dan Dennison said in an email Monday the demonstrators don’t have a permit and the department does “not discuss enforcement plans.”
He added, “All people are required to follow state and county mask mandates.”
Tamashiro said his plan is to remain “as long as the creator wills.”
“If it’s in the creator’s will, we’re going to create a village,” he said. “And we’re going to aloha and cooperate with all parties in peace and harmony and in clarification and confirmation of the law. That’s what we’re here for. It’s an inalienable right to require and to give full disclosure and substantive due process. And that’s all I want.
“I mean, if the state attorney general, Clare Connors, or head of DLNR, Suzanne Case … can bring actual evidence that they have superior title to this ‘aina, I’ll go home, cook rice. I will. And we all will leave.”