Our Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations (SCHHA) and Association of Hawaiians for Homestead Lands (AHHL) Maui/Lānaʻi Mokupuni Council held its first in-person meeting in years. Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) Beneficiary Services Agent Roy Newton generously hosted us in OHA’s beautiful meeting space in Kahului.
There were 28 of us in attendance and we heard from several guest speakers.
Rep. Troy Hashimoto of Maui of the Budget Oversight Committee spoke on Act 279 (the $600 million appropriation to DHHL) and shared a list of DHHL projects that account for more than one-third of Act 279 funds. He said the remaining funds may be used for purchasing lands and building infrastructure – although the committee does not want to see “land-banking.”
Hashimoto said purchasing lands that already have infrastructure or access to infrastructure would be seen favorably as long it came with plans for housing. Regarding the use of funds for buying people off the waitlist, he reported that DHHL Director Kali Watson was still evaluating the idea. He noted that the Budget Oversight Committee primarily serves as a sounding board while tracking DHHL’s progress and holding them accountable.
Dr. Jonathan Likeke Scheuer, a DHHL consultant on water management, provided a quick overview of Maui water developments in areas affected by the devastating wildfires. He shared how water usage beyond sustainable yield will result in saltwater leaching; a real danger already threatening Honokowai. Scheuer also shared that, in the newest version of the governor’s emergency proclamation, the water code and instream flow standards are back in place.
A Maui beneficiary from Leialiʻi Homestead expressed concern that there were too many developments already permitted that would be taking all the water ahead of our DHHL homestead developments. Scheuer reassured us that DHHL, with the urging of beneficiaries, would continue to assert our first rights to water for our homestead developments.
DHHL Maui Commissioner Randy Awo provided us with an update from the Lealiʻi Homestead regarding the Lahaina fires. He said that Leialiʻi Homestead had Ke Akua (God) protecting them because while the fires caused so much damage all around them, it mostly spared their homestead.
He told us they needed help with mortgage relief and finances because while most still have their homes, many have lost their jobs and others need help repairing their roofs. Significantly, he said many Leialiʻi homesteaders want to figure out the best ways to help others less fortunate than them – many have family and friends in nearby neighborhoods like Wahikuli. Awo also told us about a wonderful organization recently formed by cultural practitioners, Hui o Hoʻomalu, that is already working in Kaʻanapali and Leialiʻi.
Before adjourning, our SCHHA Disaster Relief Team members Iwalani McBrayer, Rolina Faagai and Kainoa MacDonald, who visited Lahaina earlier that day, discussed our Hawaiian Homestead Association Maui Fund and ongoing efforts to plan a Homestead Maui Relief Roundtable at the Maui Beach Hotel on Friday, October 20. Maui Homesteaders wanting to join in our planning efforts can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Maui Strong!!!