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West Maui families to protest sale of Kahoma Valley land

By Staff | Apr 7, 2016


LAHAINA – Some 270 acres above Lahaina in Kahoma Valley are not up for grabs. So say a force of local families standing up last weekend claiming the land, Apana 3A, is not for sale.

Led by Archie Kalepa, the list of ‘ohana gathering together along the Keawe Street Extension and Lahaina Bypass roadway Saturday morning represented hundreds from West Maui families in peaceful demonstration of their rights.

Names that echo across many generations – like Keahi, Palakiko, Watson, Pali, Sylva, Kapu, Laborte, Nahooikaika, Dizon, Guth, Babayan, Haia, Farden and Kalepa, to name a few – were there, strong and determined.

“We are the families who have been here for more than four or five generations with deep connection to the land we have the koko (blood) of the land,” Kalepa told the Lahaina News in an interview; “this is what people don’t understand.”

“Kahoma (Land Company) LLC is seeking to obtain the land, Apana 3A,” Kalepa continued, “that is part of the Kana’ina land.

After the demonstration on Saturday morning, April 2, the families drove to Kahoma Valley.

“Kana’ina was Prince Lunalilo’s father. As part of the process, they have to get a hold of the heirs of Kana’ina to let them know that they are interested in the purchase of the land.”

Kalepa was clear: “The heirs do not want to sell. I’m not speaking for all of the heirs, but I would say, so far, most of the heirs have no intent to sell the land.”

In the interview, the legendary Native Hawaiian waterman focused on the na’au (guts, heart, mind).

“The purpose of the demonstration,” Kalepa said, “was making the families aware, especially those that live on Maui and in Lahaina, that they realize the value not necessarily of the land but the culture of the land – the culture of the place. And I am talking about the Hawaiian past; not missionary, pre-missionary.”

“The other part is right now people are using this land (for ATV and Zipline activities), and they have no authority to use this land, and now they are trying to contact the heirs to seek the purchase of this land,” Kalepa said.

The ‘ohanas, after the awareness protest, ventured up the old sugar cane roads and onto their family lands in the valley.

“We put up a Hawaiian flag on the land to show that, hey, we’re standing up; we’re standing up, and we’re fighting for the land that we know that we cannot sell. We cannot sell this land, because this land, when I’m living, this land belongs to me; but when I die, this land goes to my heirs, my family. That’s what is important,” Kalepa said.

Awareness, education and working together were major objectives last weekend.

“The goal is to keep everybody educated and work with the families. But more important, work with families from every valley, every gulch, every family that has kuleana rights, that has lineal rights, that has cultural rights, and work with them for them to understand that we all need each other. We need to work together, so that we can support what’s happening up in Kahoma. Even if your family is not from there, come and support us, because somewhere down the line the same thing will happen to you and your family’s land,” Kalepa warned.

He provided the community with an open invitation.

“If you want to come up and work on the land and want to share knowledge, we are totally 100 percent open to learn, share, work, all of this and do it together, so that we can be stronger as a people.”

Kalepa can be reached by telephone at 463-7140.

According to Kalepa, the legal situation stems from an open 1967 land court case and is “tricky” at best. He suggested a second article, exploring Native Hawaiian land rights, Kingdom law, quiet title, quiet claim, allodial title and heir lands. The goal is to explain this complex Hawaiian land system using laymen’s legalese, if possible.