In July, Governor David Y. Ige signed a bill, HB451 HD1 SD2 CD1, into law on Molokaʻi, becoming Act 080. This act would reduce the minimum Hawaiian blood quantum requirement of certain successors to lessees of Hawaiian home lands from one quarter to one thirty-second. I was humbled to participate in this historical event.
Having this bill signing happen on Molokaʻi was important for a number of reasons. Not only is Molokaʻi the home of the first Hawaiian homestead, Kalamaʻula, but this is the first time that any bill signing has ever taken place on Molokaʻi. Descendants of the first homesteaders, who were among the bill’s advocates, were present for the bill’s signing. Other attendees included Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Director Jobie Masagatani, DHHL commissioners, State Representative Lynn DeCoite, and Maui County Councilwoman Stacy Crivello.
Currently, lessees can only designate a spouse, child, grandchild, brother or sister who have a blood quantum of one-quarter Hawaiian as a successor to their lease. It is important to note that this bill does not change that percentage needed for beneficiaries to be awarded a lease. The change only lowers the blood quantum necessary for successorship of leases from relatives.
Despite this bill’s signing by the Governor, the change is not one that happens immediately. Because the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act was created by an act of Congress, this act is subject to review and consent by the United States Congress. The political climate at the federal level has changed drastically over the years, creating a sense of uncertainty for any legislation and policy related to Native Hawaiians. Our Congressional delegation will need to collaborate and wait for the right opportunity to work on this initiative in a supportive environment. Pursuing the federal consent in a cautious manner is imperative. While the work is not done, we will continue to support the community, as well as state and federal officials as the bill proceeds to the federal level.
This change in the successorship blood quantum requirement, although highly debated this legislative session, aligns with Prince Kūhiō’s original intent. Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole, the author of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act as Hawaiʻi’s delegate to the U.S Congress, advocated for a lower blood quantum to be more inclusive of all Hawaiians. Ensuring that ʻohana are not forced off of the homestead lands that they have lived on for generations is a step to more closely achieve Prince Kūhiō’s vision for this program.
Note: Trustee columns represent the views of individual trustees and may not reflect the official positions adopted by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees.