News, updates, finds, and stories from staff and community members at KAHEA.
Showing blog entries tagged as: land and cultural rights

News, updates, finds, stories, and tidbits from staff and community members at KAHEA. Got something to share? Email us at:

Turtle Bay Win!

Posted by Miwa at Apr 14, 2010 04:10 PM |

You’ve probably seen in the papers over the last few days, news of the Supreme Court win for Keep the North Shore Country and Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter. The ruling states that the 1985 EIS developed for a massive proposed development (5 hotels and 1,000 resort condos) on O’ahu’s North Shore, indeed does need an update. In addition to asserting the obvious fact that “things have changed” since the mid-1980s (for most of us, at least), the court acknowledged that the project is too big and too late for the pristine stretch of coastline along Kawela Bay.

Straight from KNSC guys:

Keep the North Shore Country is very pleased the Hawaii Supreme Court, on April 8, 2010, ordered a Supplemental EIS for the Turtle Bay Resort Expansion Plan.  We commend the Court for thoroughly reviewing the facts of the case and rendering a strong opinion on the need for an updated environmental review 25 years after the original report was completed in 1985.

We are very appreciative of the enormous support of residents on the North Shore, throughout the state of Hawaii and around the world who passionately cheered us on.  Everyone knew that this was the classic case where an SEIS should be required and the Court came down forcefully on the mistakes made by the Honolulu City & County Department of Planning and Permitting and the lower courts for their erroneous interpretation of the law.

Without the numerous donations, large and small, from concerned supporters, we would not have been able to mount this vigorous and ultimately successful campaign.  The cost of fighting city hall is staggering, but we were successful because of the stellar work by many people, not the least of whom are our attorneys.

To everyone who believed in us and to everyone who helped make it happen, MAHALO!

See more on their website at

LTE from Honolulu Advertiser

Posted by Miwa at Mar 23, 2010 08:16 PM |

Mahalo to Nancy for the following letter in the Honolulu Advertiser a few days ago:

I was struck by the brilliance of a campaign that came through my e-mail this past week. It provides a fresh look at solutions to Hawai’i's budget shortfalls; ideas that have yet to be considered and answers that have been hidden in plain sight.

The campaign calls for fair rents to be paid by the multitude of space entrepreneurs at the current and future laboratory sites on Mauna Kea. These areas, estimated at $50 million worth of rent fees, are going for one penny a year.

Long ago I researched the $1 lease made with the Army to use Mākua Valley for live fire and other training. (The original agreement was to return the land at the close of WWII.)

How many other sweet deals have been made that could be bringing in much-needed revenues so that our children, the most needy and fragile, don’t take any more hits?

Nancy Aleck

No Property, No Say, and No Plan

Posted by Miwa at Feb 19, 2010 03:30 AM |

From Miwa:

Back in January, we posted here about some disappointing news: the denial by the Hawai’i State Board of Land and Natural Resources (Land Board) and Judge Hara (3rd Circuit) of our right to a administrative review (contested case) on UH’s new “management plan” for Mauna Kea. We have now waded through the findings from the Judge, and here’s the story:

One cloudy Thursday afternoon, the Land Board voted to approve a UH’s proposed “management plan” for the conservation district on the summit of Mauna Kea. At the hearing, KAHEA, along with a group of long-time advocates, Native Hawaiians with ancestral ties to the mountain and conservationists (including Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter, Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, and Uncle Kukauakahi Ching) requested a “contested case” hearing, a common practice in Hawaiʻi.

A Simple Request: Hold a Hearing
As many of you know: For 40 years, the summit conservation district has been the focus of a contentious struggle over the expanding footprint of an industrial park for telescopes within its boundaries. Approval of this plan, written by the lead developer–the University of Hawai’i–would pave the way for the largest expansion of industrial land use on the summit in nearly a decade, a telescope complex larger than a modern sports stadium, the TMT.

The contested case hearing is part of a time-honored process designed to protect the rights of those affected by state agency decisions, allowing us to formally present evidence of how the plan would impact access, traditional use, cultural practice and natural resources on the mountain. Through the hearing process, we would be allowed to make our case for adopting a conservation plan in compliance with state laws governing the summit conservation district, in place of the development plan written by the lead developer.

Despite the fact that we have had contested case hearings in the past, in a surprise move, the Board denied our request.

No Property, No Say, and No Plan
The Land Board denied our right to a hearing, based on a claim that our group does not have a “property interest”–flying in the face of decades of law affirming Native Hawaiian traditional and customary rights and the right to a healthy environment. The unexpected decision instead championed a dangerous new model for rights on public lands:  No property, no say.

“No property, no say” is a dangerous new tactic that the summit developers and the Land Board are hot to pursue. Why? Because detrimental (but profitable!) activities in conservation districts are easier to push through if no one can challenge them. There are legal rights to cultural practice, public access, and a healthy environment in Hawai‘i. But “no property, no say” makes it difficult or impossible for many to assert or uphold those rights.

The Land Board also asserted that “the plan is a plan but is not a plan.” (Yeah. Makes no sense to us, either.)  In the UH Plan, an unlimited number of telescopes, roads, office buildings, parking lots and other structures may or may not be built at an undetermined date in the future. The Land Board is claiming that because the UH plan is so vague, it can’t possibly affect anyone. Since no one is affected, no one gets a contested case. One judge (Judge Hara), agreed.

BUT by approving the plan, the Board has ensured that almost any future action to expand industrial land use in the summit conservation district will be “consistent” with the approved plan. We believe this action impacts us–and the future of Mauna Kea’s conservation district–big time.

No Property, No Say and No Plan? We believe this is a really, erm… crappy way to do decision-making and planning on the future of important conservation lands in Hawai’i. And we’re going to fight it.

The Road Ahead
We are again appealing, this time to the intermediate court of appeals. The outcome of this case will set the stage for how decisions are made on conservation lands in Hawai’i for decades to come. Throughout Hawai’i, approximately 2 million acres of land fall within conservation districts like the one on Mauna Kea.

We are facing well-funded developers from some of the world’s wealthiest nations, and some of the highest paid attorneys in Hawai‘i. Yet, we also are building on over 15 years of successful advocacy, closer than ever to realizing our vision of a better future for this incredible summit–where native habitat and cultural sites can be restored, and species brought back from the edge of extinction.

Your Kōkua Needed!
At stake is not just the future of Mauna Kea, but the future of community voices and the fate of unique and fragile forests, shorelines, summits and waters throughout Hawai’i.

We are committed to fighting this dangerous new paradigm all the way to the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court, if that’s what it takes. We hope you–and so many like you, who understand what is at stake–will walk with us on journey forward.

We are currently working to raise $10,000 in legal fees. We are a little over 1/4 of the way there. If you’d like to contribute, click here to make a secure, easy contribution online. You can also send your gift to: KAHEA, PO Box 37368, Honolulu, Hawai'i 96837.

We will continue to update you on the latest for the sacred summit, and opportunities to get involved, participate, and kōkua.

*The plaintiffs — Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, Royal Order of Kamehameha I, Sierra Club, KAHEA, and Clarence Kukauakahi Ching –express our deepest thanks to you for your support and for making a difference! MAHALO!

Triple Sea Turtle Kill? A'ole.

Someones gotta protect the our oceans and the animals that live in it, and it sure isn’t going to be National Marine Fisheries Service…

Today, conservation groups Turtle Island Restoration Network, Center for Biological Diversity, and KAHEA, represented by Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Honolulu, Hawai`i challenging a new federal rule allowing the Hawai’i-based longline swordfish fishery to catch nearly three times as many loggerhead sea turtles as was previously permitted. The lawsuit challenges a rule issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service on December 10, 2009, which allows the fishery to fish without any limitation on the amount of fishing it can do, except that it must stop if and when it catches the authorized number of turtles. Until now, there were limits on the number of longline sets that could be fished, as well as a lower number of turtles that could be taken. With the new rule, federal fishery managers have created an endangered turtle derby. Federal fishery managers project that the fishery will eventually expand to about three times the size it’s been for the past six years, leading to increased bycatch not only of turtles, but of marine mammals and sea birds as well.

To read rest of article click here

Click below to read more!

Point Missed

From Marti:

News coverage of the court hearing on the University’s plans for Mauna Kea characterized our opposition to the plan as anti-development.  It said:

“(opponents) want to block new development on the mountain by stopping approval of the management plan.”

As one of our kupuna pointed out, actually the motivation is all the University’s part.  She said

“advocates for more telescopes on the summit want the UH CMP rushed to completion in order to move forward with several new development plans.”

While it is true that as long as there is no plan there is no TMT, that is not the desired outcome for the plan.  We’re not trying to block the plan to stop TMT.

What we do want is the opportunity to have a real plan–one that arises out of a transparent process and allows communities to articulate a public vision for the future of these extremely important public trust lands. That is what a public planning process is supposed to do. The point is that we have been denied the kind of critical, public and open discussion that would lead to such a plan. In its place, we are being told to shut up and accept a plan that was written by the university and driven by its interest in telescope development and telescope dollars.

We have long said that we want a fair opportunity to talk through and determine together how astronomy and cultural practice and natural conservation coexist–in what form, by what rules, and with what limits–on the summit. This is not an unreasonable ask. The University is wasting precious public education dollars on motion after motion in this case, because they are unwilling to compromise in any way on their development plans. For the University, this case is all about TMT. For advocates of the mountain, this case is not about TMT at all. It is about our standing, and the right of the people of Hawai’i to determine the future of a unique, irreplaceable summit that is part of Hawai’i's public trust.

Click here to read the article from the Hawaii Tribune Herald.

Mauna Kea Court Case Update

Posted by kahea at Dec 10, 2009 10:20 PM |

From Marti:

Yesterday morning, the Third Circuit Court heard oral arguments on the University of Hawaii’s motion to dismiss our appeal for a contested case hearing on the University’s new management plan for Mauna Kea.

Though we are still waiting for the judge’s ruling, the hearing made one thing clear: supporters of this “CMP” also support more telescopes (and more desecration and destruction) on the sacred summit.  Less than a dozen people sign-waved outside the Hilo courthouse during the hearing with pre-printed signs that said “Mauna Kea TMT Yes!”  If you ever doubted the connection between more telescopes and the University’s CMP, then yesterday’s demonstration of support for the “Thirty Meter Telescope” at a hearing on the CMP should make it clear that the University wrote this CMP to facilitate telescope construction on Mauna Kea.  Indeed, the CMP does not speak to any limitations on telescopes or a carrying capacity for the summit.

…unless, of course, if by “TMT” they meant “Too Many Telescopes.”

And, Mahalo Nunui!! This is just a little shout out to all of those who took time out of their workday to sit in solidarity with us before the judge.  Mahalo for your unwavering support.

Want to help? Click here to sign up for action alerts and receive regular court updates. And click over here to donate directly to the Mauna Kea Legal Defense Fund.

Turtle Bay Talkstory II

From Marti:

The Defend Oahu Coalition is looking to you to help keep the country country.  A developer is close to receiving the last set of permits necessary to proceed with a massive resort complex on the North Shore. Your participation can help to protect Oahu’s shorelines from construction and the rural character of this community. Take a look at their update below and please try to attend their community meeting tomorrow evening 6:30 pm at Kahuku High School Cafeteria.


Tuesday, Dec. 8th at 6:30-9:00
Kahuku High School Cafeteria

From Defend Oahu Coalition:

This is the second in a series of Community Forums regarding the future of Turtle Bay. The City’s Department of Permitting and Planning is reportedly very close to issuing final subdivision permits to the developer at Turtle Bay which will allow him to move ahead with the outdated plan for five additional hotels and one thousand more resort condominiums. The State Supreme Court is set to hear Oral Arguments regarding the Keep the North Shore Country case asking for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

The existing property is formally changing owners this month, who are reportedly working on a new business model for the resort. This is a crucial time to get updated about the current situation. Efforts aimed at building on plans for preservation as well as sustainable land use enforcement at City and State levels will also be addressed.

Notable speakers invited to attend include: Governor Lingle, Representatives Abercrombie and Hirono, Mayor Hannemann, Turtle Bay Advisory Working Group Chair Bill Paty, Senator Clayton Hee, Councilmember Donovan Dela Cruz and Interim Developer for Kuilima Resort Company Stanford Carr. The moderator for the evening will be Dee Dee Letts, a member of the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board and longtime community activist.

Click here to learn more from the DOC.

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