Wailua Nui Update

SUBHEAD: No sign of County or State authorities yet as Hawaiian "occupation" of Kauai Coco Palms site continues.

By Brittany Lyte on 2 February 2018 for Civil Beat -

Image above: Photo of the entry gate to the Wailua Nui Hawaiian encampment. Photo by Brittany Lyte. From original article.

[IslandBreath Publisher's note: The young Hawaiians doing indigenous farming near the mouth of the Wailua River are doing what we all should be doing - living on the land and growing food. The Coco Palms Resort site was always an abomination to Hawaiian sovereignty, culture and history. The site is part of a large, intricate and most sacred Hawaiian cultural system on Kauai that extends from the mouth of the Wailua River (largest in Hawaii) past the giant heiau near Opaekaa Falls. The site is totally inappropriate for commercial resort development in that it is located at a choke point for traffic and is threatened by rising seas, beach erosion and storm surge caused by global warming. The developers of the Coco Palms Resort are scam artists who will be in and out of the deal as fast as they can, and off to paramilitary protected estates in New Zealand if their Ponzi scheme is successful. We stand with the Hawaiian "occupiers".]

Authorities have not intervened in the ongoing occupation of Kauai’s famed Coco Palms resort, but the number of people who remain there in defiance of a court order had dwindled Thursday night.

Four days after a judge-ordered property eviction went into effect for two encampment leaders, about a dozen Native Hawaiians claiming ancestral ties to the land continued to live on the property while farming taro, keeping watch over ancient burials and hosting Hawaiian language classes.

The State Sheriff Division is the entity that is responsible for responding to a violation of a court order, and Hawaii Department of Public Safety spokesperson Toni Schwartz said Wednesday that the division has received an official request for assistance from the property owner’s representative.

“The Sheriffs will work with the property owner, (Kauai Police Department) and the occupants towards a resolution to this matter,” Schwartz said in an email. “For safety and security reasons, we are not at this time, free to discuss any strategies that may be utilized in any related enforcement action.”

On Thursday evening, an ashen sky periodically squeezed out rain showers as a protester harvested a coconut tree. Seated in a row of folding beach chairs lining the encampment entry gate, five occupiers kept watch for anything coming their way — be it food donations from supporters or a widely anticipated visit from police. More than humidity, the night air held a palpable anxiety.

“I’m not trying to be a hero,” said Ke’ala Lopez, 22, an anthropology student at Columbia University who has been sleeping at the camp since New Year’s Day. “If law enforcement does come, I would like to have a civil conversation with them. I would like to show them documentation of why we are allowed to be here and why we are not under their direction or authority.

On social media occupiers made requests for supporters to join them in keeping a physical presence on the property. Beyond donations of tents, extension cords and ice, they asked supporters to bring cellphones and cameras to help document any police “action.”

“Sheriffs waiting for there to be little presence to move in, we need as many people as possible to hold space at gates 24/7,” Lopez posted on her Facebook page.

Image above: Photo of e’ala Lopez, 22, stands beside thriving taro plants cultivated by Coco Palms site Hawaiian gardeners. Photo by Brittany Lyte. From original article.

“We’re still here because we’re trying to continue our mission of stewarding the land regardless of what has been happening legally,” Lopez said Thursday. “If the sheriffs come and try to forcibly remove me from being able to do that then that’s a reflection on them. I am a peaceful person.”

At issue is an impassioned battle over land rights at the site of the long-shuttered resort. A judge’s ruling last week confirmed the validity of the special warranty deed to the property which Coco Palms Hui had purchased from an insurance company.

Defendants Noa Mau-Espirito and Kamu “Charles” Hepa employed Hawaiian kingdom law when they fought for their standing as the lineal descendants of the property’s last owners prior to the overthrow of the kingdom.

Judge Michael K. Soong ordered the ejection of the co-defendants from the property effective 6 p.m. last Sunday. Occupiers said Mau-Espirito and Hepa were still at the encampment Thursday night.

The dispute has lasted almost a year, stalling a planned redevelopment of the hotel where Elvis Presley’s “Blue Hawaii” was filmed in 1961. Long before the resort popularized torch-lighting ceremonies as a mainstay of Hawaii hospitality, the property was the 19th century home of Kauai’s last queen, Deborah Kapule Kaumuali’i.

Chad Waters and Tyler Greene of the Honolulu-based redevelopment firm Coco Palms Hui say they are committed to reopening the site as the Coco Palms Resort by Hyatt with an estimated $135 million project that will pay tribute to the property’s storied heritage.

The resort has been closed since it was heavily damaged in 1992 by Hurricane Iniki.

“Our commitment to rebuild the Coco Palms resort has never wavered,” Waters told Civil Beat. “All development projects have their own set of unique challenges. We work very hard to resolve all issues in a fair manner. “We know that when the court is asked to step in that it is going to take much longer than hoped or desired,” he said. “At this point, the Court has heard both sides and they have ruled that exclusive possession belongs to Coco Palms Hui, LLC. The writ was issued and now in the hands of law enforcement.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Okay given to destroy Paradise 6/10/17 
Ea O Ka Aina: Coco Palms Good to Go 3/11/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Annals of pure bullshit - Coco Palms 6/22/14  
Ea O Ka Aina: Coco Palms Travesty 8/10/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Wailua Beach "Elephant Path" 12/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Wailua Bike Path Consideration  12/12/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Prehistory Wailua Ahupuaa 1/20/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai Future 2020 - Part 1 1/18/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Hawaiian Ceremony for Wailua 11/11/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Preserve Wailua Beach 9/13/09
Island Breath: Annals of False Advertizing - Kauai Lagoons 3/18/08
Island Breath: Coco Palms Developers Break Promises 1/14/07
Island Breath: Coco Palms & Traffic Problem 3/1/06
Island Breath: Coco Palms Review 1/8/06
Island Breath: Kauai Coconut Coast Overdeveloped 11/12/05
Island Breath: Coco Palms Development 12/28/04


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