BACKGROUND ON KULEANA LANDS
Kuleana lands were granted to Kanaka Maoli tenant farmers between 1850 and 1855 and include gathering, access, and agricultural rights as well as the right to build a dwelling. Only 8,205 Kanaka Maoli received Kuleana lands that account for less than 1 percent of Hawaiian Kingdom lands. Many of these awards were adversely possessed by corporations like sugar and pineapple plantations but a precious few are still in the same families today keeping their ancestral tie to their lands. Many of these awards were adversely possessed by corporations like sugar and pineapple plantations but a precious few are still in the same families today keeping their ancestral tie to their lands. The Kanaka Maoli peoples own some of the worst socio economic, health and education statistics in the state. For example, we make up almost 40% of the houseless population. Therefore, it is imperative that the State of Hawai’i help Kanaka Maoli stay on their ancestral lands. As people of the land, the well-being of Kanaka Maoli is intrinsically tied to the ‘āina.
WHAT SENATE BILL 1495 DOES
SB1495 helps keep Kanaka Maoli families on their lands by alleviating the economic stress of defending themselves against Quiet actions. Having paid fees and taxes for these lands for 170 years many of these families don’t have the economic means of hiring attorneys for costly court cases to defend their lands. KPAC supports the mandatory provisions in this measure for the following reasons:
- Providing mandatory mediation helps to narrow down issues in dispute lowering costs of litigation especially for parties without attorneys. The sheer number of family members that are usually involved makes this avenue a better route rather than going directly to court. Mediation is mandatory if requested for other types of real estate disputes (see HRS 421I-9, HRS421J-13 and HRS 514B-161).
2. Consolidating separate quiet title actions into one for the same kuleana land award will keep costs down for the defendants and prevent the Plaintiff from saying one thing in one case and another in another case.
3. Language that states that the Plantiffs shall bear the cost of mediation or other court fees. There should be no situation where the defendants should have to bear the cost of mediation in order for someone trying to quiet title or “legally steal” their lands.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
The assault on Kanaka Maoli Kuleana lands has been going on for over 126 years and is still going on. Kuleana land parcels are usually no larger than 5 acres and are sometimes as small as a tenth of an acre but even these parcels are constantly in danger of being quiet titled by corporations, big land owners, ranchers, short term housing rental owners, and now billionaires like Zuckerberg. Many of these lands have been in the families for over 170 years – from time immemorial. We know this because during the time of the Mahele native tenants were only allowed to claim the lands they were at the time currently living on and cultivating in other words lands they were already living on their Kuleana lands for years, generations, quite possibly centuries.
Please call or email Senator Rhoads to request a hearing at 808-586-6130 or firstname.lastname@example.org