News Release

Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations

Kauai and Hawai’i Island – Homestead leaders from the island of Kauai and Hawai’i Island met virtually at the monthly homestead mokupuni meeting on Tuesday March 23, 2021. A significant agenda item included a discussion of the re-appointments of Mike Kaleikini and Dennis Neves to the Hawaiian Homes Commission for four-year terms ending in 2025.

“It was an enlightening discussion, based on actual policy actions and knowledge about the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA), each of these gentlemen have shown already serving on the Commission ,” said Robin Puanani Danner, Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations Chairwoman. “Kauai voices were firm and unanimous that Mr. Neves is just not a good fit in serving on the Hawaiian Homes Commission. Mr. Kaleikini received mixed reviews, mostly comments that he is unknown to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act beneficiary community.”

Governor Ige submitted the names of Neves and Kaleikini to the State Senate for confirmation, as his picks to serve in the Kauai and Hawai’i Island Commission seats, respectively. The Senate Committee on Hawaiian Affairs held a hearing on March 11th where a recommendation to the full Senate to consent to the appointments failed for both Neves and Kaleikini.

The next step in the legislative process, is for the full Senate of 25 Senators to vote on whether to consent to Governor Ige’s appointments, or to require the Governor to submit new names.

“My sense from the discussion was a sharing of frustration that appointments over the years, ignore any type of actual knowledge or minimum qualification standard about the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act,” Kipukai Kualii, Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations Policy Committee Chair said. “It’s also telling that the Senate Committee on Hawaiian Affairs was unable to garner the votes to formally recommend these gentlemen to the full Senate.”

Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations has a standing policy priority that the composition of the Commission be seated with a majority of Commissioners that are actually on the waitlist of 28,000 native Hawaiians, in order to focus Commission priorities on the waitlist and a core tenet of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act – to issue native Hawaiian’s homestead allotments for homes, farms and ranches, and for mercantile purposes. Today there are none that are eligible but have never received a homestead award, and only 4 of the 9 Commissioners are actual lessees, and therefore beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.

“We believe that there are literally hundreds of native Hawaiian citizens in our great State that are well qualified to serve, know the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act well, and should be a priority for the Senate in exercising its “advise and consent” authority,” remarked Kualii. “Neither State government nor native Hawaiians, especially the families on the untenable waitlist are served by taking a passive approach to Governor appointments. We can do better.”

Liberta Albao, a kupuna board member from Kauai serving on the only statewide waitlist homestead association added, “both Neves and Kaleikini voted to use our land for a casino. That hurt me, I’ve been waiting for over 40 years on the waitlist. We know there is plenty funds from Act 14 at the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) to build out lots, we don’t have Commissioners that do.”

The Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations asks members of the Senate to increase the scrutiny of Governor appointments to the Hawaiian Homes Commission, starting with a minimum expectation of individuals that are on the waitlist of 28,000 or at least meet regularly with homestead associations as is mandated in HAR 10-2-18.

For more information about the policy and advocacy work of the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations, contact info@hawaiianhomesteads.org.

Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations

Founded in 1987, the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations (SCHHA) is the oldest and largest governing homestead association registered with the Department of Interior, exercising sovereignty on the trust lands established under the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920.

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