Photo: DHHL Staff
(L-R) Pono Asano (executive assistant to Mayor Richard Bissen), Harold Rodrigues, Kealiʻi Reichel, Vania Kanamu (Ka ʻOhana o Kahikinui secretary) and Chair Kali Watson (Hawaiian Homes Commission). - Courtesy Photo

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) awarded 25 pastoral lots on December 2, as part of the Department’s Kuleana Program.

Established in 1999, the Kuleana Program was created through beneficiary consultation and is the department’s direct response to fulfilling the community’s needs and desire to be stewards of the land.

“It is a challenging program, but we do have people on our waitlist that are committed and will take on that challenge,” said Hawaiian Homes Commission Chairperson Kali Watson. “The department will be more actively involved, not only providing financing but assistance on the house construction so it’s an exciting time.”

At the program’s inception, 75 lots were awarded. December’s awards are the first in more than two decades.

The Kuleana Program provides an alternative homesteading option for DHHL beneficiaries interested in living on unimproved Hawaiian Home Lands. Furthermore, the program addresses the department’s need to quickly provide homesteads to a growing list of beneficiaries, many of whom lack sufficient funding to acquire a traditional residential lease.

“I’m glad to become a member of that great community [Kahikinui],” said DHHL beneficiary Harold Rodrigues. “Being in a homestead is a hardship but you persevere, as whoever is there now has persevered and built that community up to what it is now.”

Located on the leeward side of Haleakalā, Kahikinui encompasses 22,860 acres. The area is zoned for 101 lots ranging in size from 10 to 16 acres.

As part of the Kuleana Program, lessees are required to maintain the roadways, their properties, the surrounding landscape, and historical features.

The department’s pastoral leases provide lands for ranching and gives beneficiaries the opportunity to build a home. DHHL awards pastoral lots on Hawaiʻi Island, Kauaʻi, Maui and Molokaʻi. Pastoral lots vary in size.