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State and county decision-makers receive training on critical Native Hawaiian law issues

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Contact:
Melody K. MacKenzie, (808) 956-0828
Professor, Ka Huli Ao Center, William S. Richardson School of Law
Posted: Jun 1, 2018

Law training presenters, from left, Kapua Sproat, Malia Akutagawa and David Forman.
Law training presenters, from left, Kapua Sproat, Malia Akutagawa and David Forman.
Law training volunteers, from left, Mahesh Cleveland, Susan Serrano, Abi Wright, Letani Peltier and Kapua Sproat.
Law training volunteers, from left, Mahesh Cleveland, Susan Serrano, Abi Wright, Letani Peltier and Kapua Sproat.

On May 18, 2018, over 90 decision-makers, including several newly-appointed members of state boards, commissions and councils, received a full day of training on key issues in Native Hawaiian law at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa campus.

The training - covering four major legal areas affecting Native Hawaiians – is required for members of designated state boards, commissions and councils as part of Act 169, a state law passed in 2015. The specialized training, conducted by faculty members of Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law, was developed for recently appointed or elected officials.

Participating in the training were Hawaiʻi County councilmembers and staff, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands commissioners and staff, the staff of boards and commissions, and staff members of state agencies. Funding for the training sessions, which are held twice a year, comes from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA).

The training began with welcoming remarks by OHA Chair Collette Machado. Lea Hong, a 1991 Richardson graduate and director of the Trust for Public Land (TPL), then spoke of her experiences working with Hawaiian communities to preserve and protect ʻāina.  She pointed to the work of the Pele Defense Fund, OHA and TPL in aquiring and returning Wao Kele O Puna, a nearly 26,000-acre parcel originally part of the public land trust, to Native Hawaiian stewardship.  

Ethnic Studies Professor Davianna Pōmaikaʻi McGregor provided attendees with the historical and cultural context for Native Hawaiian land and resource rights. Law Professor Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie, who helps to coordinate the trainings, then gave attendees a presentation on Hawaiʻi’s Public Land Trust.

David Forman, director of the law school’s Environmental Law Program, presented on Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practices.  Associate Professor D. Kapuaʻala Sproat, Ka Huli Ao’s director, explained the legal and cultural framework for water resource management in Hawaiʻi and  Assistant Professor Malia Akutagawa discussed the laws relating to iwi kūpuna or Native Hawaiian ancestral remains.

MacKenzie noted that Ka Huli Ao has offered similar training for five years, with hundreds of state and county decision-makers and staff members participating. “We are very appreciative of the positive response that we got from those attending the training" she said. "We look forward to continuing to work with OHA to provide this important information to ensure that decisions affecting our natural and cultural resources are made by people who truly understand the law and the impact their decisions have on the Native Hawaiian community and on all in Hawaiʻi.”

For more information, visit: https://www.law.hawaii.edu/