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Native Hawaiian Law book cover

A new 1,400-page volume on Native Hawaiian law that touches everything from traditional and customary rights, to self-determination, to securing land titles will be unveiled on October 20. The volume, Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise, was compiled and edited by three members of the law school faculty who specialize in Native Hawaiian law at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law.

Fifteen years in the making, the new work offers a comprehensive overview as well as historical background for Native Hawaiian law as it relates to U.S. law as well as international law. It also provides detailed explanations of many aspects of law affecting Native Hawaiian cultural and natural resources.

“In doing this new book we realized how much further Native Hawaiian law had been developed since its predecessor, the Native Hawaiian Rights Handbook,” said editor-in-chief Professor Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie, director of Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law at the law school.

Executive editors are Susan K. Serrano, director of research and scholarship at Ka Huli Ao, and D. Kapuaʻala Sproat, also a professor at the law school who is an expert on Hawaiʻi water rights, among other specialties.

“There’s been an explosion in laws that affect the Native Hawaiian community,” continued MacKenzie. “There has been a substantial increase in the case law, and the federal and state regulatory regimes that affect Native Hawaiians particularly, and Native Hawaiian cultural and natural resources. In the first book we couldn’t include some important areas and now we’ve covered them.”

Said School of Law Dean Avi Soifer, “This extraordinary scholarly accomplishment is also an invaluable tool to aid understanding of the intersection of western law and Native Hawaiian cultural practices. There are multiple reasons to be excited by and proud of what Professor MacKenzie and her team accomplished. In fact, this book is a watershed moment for the law school and its reach will extend far beyond lawyers and scholars.”

“Our state courts have been very supportive and expansive in their interpretation of Hawaiian tradition and custom, and in relation to the trust issues surrounding the national lands of the Hawaiian Kingdom,” said MacKenzie. “We wanted to make sure that these important areas of law were well explained.”

A sampling of the many areas covered by the treatise includes:

  • The Public Land Trust
  • Water Rights
  • Traditional and Customary Access and Gathering Rights
  • Burial Rights
  • The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act
  • Judicial Methods for Securing Land Title
  • The Island of Kahoʻolawe
  • Konohiki Fishing Rights
  • Native Hawaiian Health
  • Hawaiian Language and Education

The volume is a joint project of Ka Huli Ao and the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, published by Kamehameha Publishing with support from a number of funders including the State Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, Kosasa Family Fund, Pōhaku Fund/Tides Foundation, Sukamto Foundation, Pūʻā Foundation, and Spoehr Family Fund.

The book is available in bookstores, through Apple iBooks, and on Kindle, and through Kamehameha Publishing, with the paperback version priced at $50, the electronic version at $30 and the boxed hardbound edition at $100.

For the full story, read the William S. Richardson School of Law news release.

—By Beverly Creamer

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