Office of Hawaiian Affairs
This year marks the centennial anniversary of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. For nearly 30 of these past 100 years, there has been no expansion of homesteading opportunities on Molokaʻi, despite the best efforts of Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and Office of Hawaiian Affairs to create such opportunities by upholding Department of Hawaiian Home Landsʻ priority right to water in a manner consistent with the public trust, and the state water code.
Over the years, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been invested by both Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and Office of Hawaiian Affairs in hydrologic studies, advocacy, and litigation to uphold the public trust in Molokaʻiʻs water resources, and vindicate the rights of Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practitioners that should be prioritized and protected under the trust. Unfortunately, these efforts have been continually stymied by powerful interests, including in particular the currently closed Molokaʻi Ranch.
Finally, today, the Water Commission will have the opportunity to grant its final approval of a Water Use Permit Application from Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, which would increase its allocation of water from Kualapuʻu for the first time in nearly three decades. Not only would this benefit existing homesteaders and others who depend on Department of Hawaiian Home Landsʻ water system, but would also significantly advance the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act‘s mission to return Hawaiians to the land, by providing sufficient water to establish 171 new homestead service connections and up to 210 new service connections for subdivided homestead lots.
Finally, I would like to mahalo the staff of the Water Commission and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands for their diligent and steadfast effort to bring us to this historical moment on the 100th anniversary of the passage of Prince Kūhiō’s landmark legislation.
Office of Hawaiian Affairs’s testimony on the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Water Use Permit Application can be viewed here.
About the Office of Hawaiian Affairs
Established by the state Constitutional Convention in 1978, Office of Hawaiian Affairs is a semi-autonomous state agency mandated to better the conditions of Native Hawaiians. Guided by a board of nine publicly elected trustees, Office of Hawaiian Affairs fulfills its mandate through advocacy, research, community engagement, land management and the funding of community programs. Learn more at www.oha.org.