More than 100 learn Native Hawaiian law

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Derek Kauanoe, 808-956-0836
Student & Community Outreach Coordinator, Law
Posted: Jan 14, 2014

L-R: D. Forman, K. Sproat, Jocelyn Doane, M. Akutagawa, M. MacKenzie, Derek Kauanoe, and K. Crabbe
L-R: D. Forman, K. Sproat, Jocelyn Doane, M. Akutagawa, M. MacKenzie, Derek Kauanoe, and K. Crabbe

More than 100 people from throughout the State of Hawaiʻi - representing state and county governments - learned about trust obligations in relation to Native Hawaiian cultural and natural resources at UH Mānoa's William S. Richardson School of Law.  The training course was provided by Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law.  It was funded by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and held on Saturday, January 11, 2014. 

Maui County Council Chair Gladys Baisa described the training as “an essential program for public servants in making crucial decisions for the community.”

The training included a variety of speakers.  Native Hawaiian law attorney and Ka Huli Ao Director, Associate Professor Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie opened the training and was followed by Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chief Executive Officer Kamanaʻopono Crabbe who shared a few words.  William Aila, Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, spoke about the impact of decision-making on Native Hawaiian culture and practices.  Ethnic Studies Professor Davianna McGregor provided training attendees with an historical overview and context for understanding Hawaiʻi’s unique laws.  MacKenzie then returned to the lectern and gave attendees a presentation on Hawaiʻi’s “Public Land Trust.”

David Forman, the Director of the Law School’s Environmental Law Program, presented on Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practices.  Former Earthjustice staff attorney, and now Assistant Professor, Kapuaʻala Sproat explained the legal and cultural framework for water resource management in Hawaiʻi.  Assistant Professor Malia Akutagawa discussed the laws relating to iwi kūpuna or Native Hawaiian human burial remains. 

Baisa further explained, “As Chair of the Maui County Council, I echo Professor Kapuaʻala Sproat’s statement that the best policy is usually based on shared knowledge and not on litigation.  Understanding our unique history and the priorities set forth by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs are crucial in policy making for proper resource management that is pono.” 

After the training, MacKenzie shared, “I heard nothing but good things from those who attended. Everyone really appreciated all of the information and felt that they had substantially increased their understanding of the laws protecting Native Hawaiian natural and cultural resources.”

Several state and other county lawmakers attended the training, including:  Senators Suzanne Chun OaklandDonovan Dela Cruz and Maile Shimabukuro; Representatives Karen Awana, Isaac Choy, Faye Hanohano, Richard Onishi, and Calvin Say; and Hawaiʻi County Councilmembers Dru Kanuha and Valerie Poindexter. 

Among the various governmenal entities represented at the training, there were a few federal employees; state House and Senate staff; members and staff of the Natural Area Reserves System Commission; the Kauaʻi-Niʻihau Burial Council; the Environmental Council; the Department of the Attorney General; the Departments of Agriculture, Health, Land and Natural Resources, and Transportation, as well as the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism; the State Water Commission; the County Councils; the Honolulu Planning Commission; the Honolulu Office of Council Services; the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting; the Clean Water and Natural Lands Commission; and the Board of Water Supply.