FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Jonathan Scheuer, director of OHA's Land Management Division, explained ceded-lands issues to the audience yesterday during a community meeting held at the Waimanalo Public Library to discuss a proposed ceded-lands settlement with the state.
Ceded-lands session meets native distrust
About 100 Hawaiians from Waimanalo and elsewhere turned out last night to learn more or to voice their opinions about the proposed $200 million settlement of a 30-year dispute between the state and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs over ceded lands.
Kaui Sang, 38, of Waimanalo said she attended to be educated on what the settlement encompasses and what OHA might have had to forgo, including the right to sue the state.
She fears that OHA might be "giving up too much" and that it could affect how OHA takes care of native Hawaiians.
Last night's meeting at Waimanalo Public Library was the first of several community meetings scheduled by OHA and the state Attorney General to explain the terms and conditions of the settlement and to gather comments and recommended improvements, which will be reported to the Legislature.
The settlement, signed Jan. 17, would include turning over to OHA state land along Kewalo Basin and at Kalaeloa on Oahu and along Banyan Drive in Hilo -- valued at about $187 million. The agreement also would give OHA $13 million now and a guaranteed $15 million annually.
An OHA representative explained the 30-year history of the dispute and that in the proposed settlement OHA gives up its right to sue for past-due amounts of income and proceeds of the public land trust from Nov. 7, 1978, to July 1, 2008.
It also gives up its right to sue for future payments in any year the Legislature does not pay at least $15.1 million. However, it does not release claims to the ownership of ceded lands, which are former monarchy lands that the state took over.
Sandra Clarke, who lives on the beach in Waimanalo, said, "I'm surprised to think that the same land that was ours, we're buying it."
Many native Hawaiians at last night's meeting expressed distrust of the state and Office of Hawaiian Affairs in their settlement agreement.
Others felt left out of the process.
Dexter Kaiama, 48, of Kailua said of the settlement, "What it is is a done deal. The deal is struck." He thought it unlikely that any input could be made into the terms of the settlement.
He called for a moratorium on the settlement proposal until the terms could properly be explained. He said there was "no prior input by the community, and a lack of transparency. Is that in keeping with the obligation of the state and OHA trustees to the native Hawaiians?
"It's an infomercial; it's OHA's attempt to inform the community to a settlement that they've already agreed to."
Orrin Kupau said, "OHA has not effectively rounded up the populace. You need the community helping you here today."
The dispute goes back to 1978 when Hawaii voters approved changes to the state Constitution that included the creation of OHA and required the state to give OHA revenues from ceded lands.
MORE MEETINGS SCHEDULED
Community meetings on the proposed settlement between the state and Office of Hawaiian Affairs:
» 7 p.m. tomorrow, Pearl City High School Cultural Center Hall
» 10 a.m. Saturday, Maili Elementary School
» 7 p.m. Monday, Molokai at Kulana Oiwi
» 7 p.m. Wednesday, Lihue Public Library
» 6 p.m. Feb. 23, Maui Community College in Kalama Room 103
» 7 p.m. Feb. 25, Queen Liliuokalani Children's Center in Hilo
Additional meetings will be scheduled in downtown Honolulu and Kona.
» 9 a.m. Feb. 22 by logging on to www.oha.org/pastdue