Alleged trespassers claim right to land
Five plead not guilty after 16 are arrested on a Maui parcel being developed for housing
WAILUKU » Several native Hawaiians arrested for allegedly trespassing on a planned housing project on Maui appeared yesterday in Wailuku District Court.
The five in the group of 16 arrestees who claim they are heirs of the land pleaded not guilty before Judge Douglas Ige.
The date for completing the 16's pretrial motions was Dec. 12. Ige released the five on their own recognizance. The other 11 had posted $100 bail.
The group, including four older than 60, was arrested Sunday on land in Waiehu being developed by Sterling Kim.
Valerie Piimauna Dukelow, one of those arrested Sunday and a member of the group Ko Hawaii Pae Aina-Aha O Na Wai Eha, said that based on a royal patent, she and the others have vested rights to the land and should be able to live on it.
"I wanted to show them this was my right as a kanaka. I had the right to be there," Dukelow said.
"We cannot step back anymore. ... We were not afraid because we knew what we were doing was right."
But Kim, head of Hale Mua Properties LLC, said the people were using the claims as heirs to squat on his land and that he has already received a Maui Circuit Court summary judgment in his favor.
"None of the people who were arrested had ever filed a claim in the court that was recognized," Kim said.
Kim said there was no paperwork or genealogy to justify their claims.
"We've tried to discuss things with them. ... We have people who are misinformed," Kim said.
Dukelow said her group has been visiting the site regularly to take care of the land.
Native Hawaiians have cleared the land and planted crops on the site, including squash, mamaki tea, awa, kukui and taro.
Dukelow said the group has encountered police on multiple occasions during their work at the site, but decided Sunday that they could not back down.
The land, formerly used for sugar cane cultivation, was once owned by Wailuku Agribusiness.
Kim said he plans to build 466 homes on 240 acres of land, including 238 affordable homes with prices beginning at $180,000 for a three-bedroom.
He said the affordable houses will be available for purchase by many people, including native Hawaiians.
"This is not a quick-get-rich scheme," Kim said.