Celebrating 40 Years of Keeping the Tradition Alive
The Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC) is the only non-profit, public interest law firm, concentrating in the unique area of Native Hawaiian Rights law. NHLC provides legal assistance to families and communities engaged in perpetuating the culture and traditions of Hawai'i's indigenous people.
Founded by several grass roots leaders in 1974, NHLC was a volunteer-run referral service initially. But the high demand for direct help, especially from families who needed legal assistance in protecting their lands, transformed NHLC into a law firm that now provides low cost legal help to approximately 700 clients annually.
MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Through their practice of aloha `aina, Hawai`i’s original inhabitants ensured their continued existence in one of the most isolated and physically remote places on earth. For them, aloha `aina became the foundational principle of their sovereignty. This same principle continues to carry significant meaning for each of us and embraces much more than the western concept of “land” as a commodity because our capacity to reestablish that relationship with the `aina, or “that which feeds”, will decide the fullness of our life, our liberty, and our ultimate happiness.
As the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation looks back this year on its’ last forty years of service as a guardian of the Native Hawaiian identity with a deep sense of pride and gratitude, we recommit ourselves to that kuleana and seek your continued kokua via a monetary donation to ensure our continuing capacity to seek and secure justice for the lands, resources, traditions, and customs of Hawai‘i's indigenous people. Mahalo for your continuing support and commitment!
NEW! Check out the Hawai'i Supreme Court's 12/19/2013 decision regarding Kaua'i's Hapa Trail and other historic sites in Kōloa! Click here.
The Hawai`i Supreme Court put the future of Eric A. Knudsen Trust’s Village at Po`ipū subdivision in question today when it vacated a circuit court judgment and instructed the lower court to consider an eight count complaint filed by Theodore Kawahinehelelani Blake. Mr. Blake is represented by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation.
According to Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation staff attorney David Kimo Frankel, “The case involves Hapa Trail, the County’s approval of the Eric A. Knudsen Trust’s Village at Po`ipū subdivision, and the destruction of historic sites.”
Blake charged that: State and County agencies failed to fulfill their public trust obligations with respect to historic sites; the County failed to investigate and protect Native Hawaiian rights; the historic review process was not properly followed; the County failed to abide the coastal zone management act; the Knudsen Trust caused a public nuisance; and the Trust was negligent in failing to preserve Hapa Trail.
The circuit court on Kaua`i ruled that the case was not ripe for review because the Board of Land and Natural Resources had not yet decided whether it would allow Hapa Trail to be breached. The Hawai`i Supreme Court held that the board’s decision was not relevant as to the counts filed by Blake, and remanded the case back to the circuit court.
In 1979, Kaua`i County rezoned a portion of Knudsen’s land in Kōloa on the condition that all the significant historic sites be protected. Nevertheless, 18 historic sites on Knudsen’s land were bulldozed.
According to Blake, “In 2004, Knudsen promised to erect ‘an orange colored plastic barricade’ along the side of Hapa Trail and to bar construction within a buffer zone around the historic site. In 2006, the Trust promised to preserve the historic walls and restore them. Nevertheless, in 2008 and 2009, portions of the walls at Hapa Trail were damaged.”
Mr. Blake, a Native Hawaiian whose ancestors have lived in Kōloa for generations, has walked Hapa Trail since his childhood. His great great grandfather travelled on Hapa Trail to make deliveries in the mid to late nineteenth century.
Given Mr. Blake’s interest in the preservation of the cultural and historic resources in the Kōloa area, the opportunity to once again present his case to protect these resources is gratifying. Blake said, “Today is a good day. Culture is our foundation, and the Supreme Court’s decision represents a renewed opportunity to fulfill my cultural obligation to protect wahi pana.”
Phase I of the proposed Village at Po`ipū residential subdivision is approximately 208 acres.
NEW! Check out the Hawai'i Supreme Court's 12/13/2013 decision for Kilakila 'O Haleakala! Click here.
In a case concerning the construction of a 142' structure at the summit of Haleakalā, the Hawai'i Supreme Court ruled that the Board of Land and Natural Resources should not have voted on a conservation district use permit in December 2010 without first conducting a contested case hearing.
The high court’s decision means that a challenge to the University of Hawaii’s proposal for the advanced solar telescope project (ATST) -- a substantial complex of observatory facilities -- should have been allowed to proceed in court.
“Kilakila `O Haleakalā had repeatedly requested contested case hearings in order to highlight the impacts that the project would have on cultural resources and scenic vistas,” according to David Kimo Frankel of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation. “Nevertheless, the Board of Land and Natural Resources chose to ignore those requests until after approving the permit.” The Supreme Court’s decision reverses earlier decisions of the Intermediate Court of Appeals and the First Circuit Court upholding the action of the Board of Land and Natural Resources.
The appeal was filed by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation on behalf of Kilakila `O Haleakalā, an organization dedicated to the protection of the sacredness of the summit of Haleakalā. Two related cases challenging construction are still before the Intermediate Court of Appeals. One case challenges the University of Hawai`i’s failure to prepare an environmental impact statement on the management plan for the summit of Haleakalā. The other case challenges the Board of Land and Natural Resources’ decision in November 2012 to approve a second permit for the project.
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Mahalo to Mountain Apple Company and all of the artists for putting this together!