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OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Joint statement by DHHL and OHA on 1993 water use permit

HAWAI’I SUPREME COURT SCHEDULES ORAL ARGUMENTS ON 1993 WATER USE PERMIT

JOINT STATEMENT BY DHHL AND OHA

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) are looking forward to taking the next steps in protecting Hawaiian water rights on Molokai from proposed resort uses by Molokai Ranch.

The Hawai`i Supreme Court has recently scheduled oral arguments on the most recent dispute regarding a 1993 Water Use Permit granted to Molokai Public Utilities (MPU), a subsidiary of the Moloka`i Ranch, by the Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM). In 2007, the Court overruled the CWRM decision finding that they did not adequately consider the impact of the Ranch’s proposed use on the DHHL or on groundwater flow to the coast that supports traditional and customary practices of Hawaiians.

At issue in this case is a more recent 2017 dismissal by the CWRM of the remanded application by the Ranch to use water from Well 17 to redevelop an abandoned golf course and resort on the extremely dry west end of Molokai. CWRM, OHA, and DHHL took Molokai Ranch at their word when in 2008, the Ranch sent a letter to CWRM stating in part “This letter is to inform you that Molokai Public Utilities (MPU) does not intend to continue this case on remand.” Now the Ranch is arguing that that letter was “equivocal” and thus did not count as an abandonment of their appeal.

OHA and the DHHL have been parties to this litigation, along with individual petitioners Judy Caparida and Georgina Kuahuia, for over twenty-five years. Both organizations remain committed to protecting Hawaiian water rights on the island of Molokai.

Water rights advocacy and training is one of the priority goals of the Hawaiian Homes Commission’s Water Policy Plan, which will be a core discussion topic at the next monthly meeting of the Hawaiian Homes Commission on Molokai on April 16 and 17, 2018.

“We appreciate that the Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments” said Jobie Masagatani, Chairman of the Hawaiian Homes Commission that oversees DHHL. “If we are to return more native Hawaiians to the land, water is necessary.”

Colette Machado, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of OHA, is from Molokai. “We continue to stand with the Hawaiian people of this island to make sure that any development of water is only done after the needs of our people are first considered, as the law requires” she said. “We are glad for the chance to again make sure that the state protects Public Trust uses of water, which includes Hawaiian gathering rights and the needs of Hawaiian Home Lands.”

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for May 31, 2018 at 10:00 am at the Supreme Court Courtroom in Honolulu.

www.courts.state.hi.us/courts/oral_arguments/oral_arguments_schedule

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