Policy Center Publishes Desktop Reference Guide on Hawaiian Trust Lands Issued by State of Hawaii for Non-Homesteading Purposes


April 21, 2011

Honolulu, Hawaii – The Native Hawaiian Policy Center, serving more than 100 Native Hawaiian organizations has completed a publication on Hawaiian home land leases by the state of Hawaii, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL).  The Desktop Reference Guide made available to member organizations of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA), completes research based on the 2009 Annual Financial Report issued by DHHL.

“This has been a great project to look at real data to gain a more clear picture of how the trust lands of Hawaiians have been deployed by DHHL over the last many years,” said Michelle Kauhane, one of 18 members on the board of CNHA and the Policy Center’s Chairwoman.  “It shows that just over 67,000 acres of the total 200,000 acres of lands have been authorized for use for purposes that are not homesteading for residential, agricultural or pastoral leases to Hawaiians themselves.  That’s 34% of our total lands.”

The Desktop Reference Guide became a priority for CNHA and the Policy Center it administers, when members identified the process under which the state of Hawaii issued lands was not transparent, nor standardized for requesting businesses, individuals and other organizations.  The priority was adopted at the Annual Native Hawaiian Convention in October 2010 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center.

“We’ve spent the last six months working on the project in fulfillment of this policy priority by our member leaders,” said Robin Danner, CNHA President.  “The data has always been out there, but not published by state government in a way that gives a full view.  We know this will help advise not only our Hawaiian leaders in the homesteads, but also the new Abercrombie administration, and perhaps most importantly, the brand new Hawaiian Homes Commissioners to be cleared by the state senate this month.”

Danner believes in increased transparency and consultation with Hawaiian community leaders in the administration of the Hawaiian Home Land Trust, as well as the ceded land revenue trust administered by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.  “Both of these trusts will perform better when they have the benefit of data, and also, the benefit of the incredible knowledge of their beneficiaries,” Danner remarked.

Findings published in the DRG are not limited to, but include the following:

1.  A total of 67,736 acres have been issued under 702 land instruments statewide for non-homesteading purposes, representing 34% of the total land trust. 13,096 acres or 21% are under long term general leases, 28,444 acres or 42% are under month to month revocable permits and 26,195 acres or 37% are under short and long term licenses for public purposes.

2.  The annual revenue received by the state by issuing these land instruments for non-homesteading purposes instead of issuing homestead leases to Hawaiians totals $11.6 million per year as reported in the 2009 DHHL annual report.  The average revenue earned for the trust totaled $14.32 per acre per month on the 67,736 acres.  It should be noted, the state spends in excess of $14 million per year on state government workers to administer the trust, which exceeds the revenue generated, creating a net loss to beneficiaries of the trust not only in funding, but also lands not available to them for homesteading.

3.  Hawaii Island lands are deployed for non-homesteading purposes the most at 37,986 acres, compared to Kauai at 927 acres, Maui at 14,056 acres and Oahu at 2,145 acres. Oahu lands earn the most revenue at an average of $3,127 per acre per month.

4.  The DRG describes the Lingle DHHL doctrine which put into motion an even more aggressive diversion of trust lands away from homesteading purposes and toward land instruments for non-homesteading purposes.  Former Governor Lingle and her DHHL administration cut off any state funding support for the administration of the trust, forcing the government agency to take lands intended for homesteading and placing them into non-homesteading use in order to support the costs and expenses of the government agency operations.

5.  Every non-homesteading land instrument in place as of 2009 is published in the DRG.  Examples include a general lease of 509 acres to Maui Land and Pine on Maui for $11.52 per acre per month, and a month to month revocable permit of 5 acres of beach front property to a church on Kauai for $63.00 a month that has been in place for over 20 years.  The church posts no trespassing signs along the beach, and coordinates no activities involving the larger community use of the trust land parcel.

6.  A specific section in the DRG is dedicated to the Native Hawaiian Policy Center project wherein a standardized land request application form developed through consultation with beneficiary leaders is presented.  The application form would put forward pertinent information for the Hawaiian Homes Commission to consider before taking action on non-homesteading land requests.

Copies of the DRG have been distributed to newly elected Governor Abercrombie and Lieutenant Governor Schatz, newly appointed Hawaiian Homes Commission Chair, Alapaki Nahalea, the Federal Director of the Office of Native Hawaiian Relations at the U.S. Department of the Interior, and to every elected homestead association president.

“This DRG is powerfully important to our beneficiary community, and to the new Abercrombie administration as it develops its strategy over the next four years for this unique trust,” said Dickie Nelson, President of the Association of Hawaiians for Homestead Lands, a CNHA member.  “It is also important to share with the Obama Administration, because the federal government has a trust responsibility under the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.  The Office of Native Hawaiian Relations at the U.S. Department of the Interior, along with Secretary Salazar, are important overseers of DHHL and state government in the administration of the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust.”

The publication entitled Desktop Reference Guide:  Disposition of Hawaiian Home Lands by the State of Hawaii for Non-Homesteading Uses, includes a listing of every land instrument issued by island and by type of instrument, as well as copies of legislation enacted in 2010 by the Hawaii Legislature under the championship of Senator Clayton Hee to mandate Beneficiary Consultation and revenue sharing to cultural and community nonprofits.  For more information, or to receive a copy of the DRG, email policy@hawaiiancouncil.org or contact CNHA at 808.596.8155.

The Native Hawaiian Policy Center is administered by the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) to research and pursue public policy priorities of non-governmental organizations.  Visit www.hawaiiancouncil.org.


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