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Law would lower the blood quantum requirement needed for Hawaiian Homelands eligibility

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Congressman Kaialiʻi Kahele
/
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Rep. Kai Kahele speaking in Washington D.C. on Dec. 21, 2022.

Rep. Kai Kahele introduced a bill Wednesday that would revert the limit on blood quantum levels needed to secure the use of Hawaiian Homelands back to Prince Kūhiō’s original intent.

HR 9614 states that the blood quantum requirement for successorship of Hawaiian Homeland property be reduced to 1/32nd.

Currently, there are special exceptions for spouses, children, grandchildren and siblings, who only need to have 25% Hawaiian blood to obtain a homestead lease. While lower than the 50% needed by applicants and other members of extended family, this new law would decrease the overall requirement significantly.

Thousands of successors are on the Department of Hawaiian Homelands waitlist, according to Kahele. He urged congress that the requirement be lowered to tend to those who 'will die on the waitlist.'

"Due to interracial marriages and blended families, many descendants of beneficiaries do not meet the 25% requirement for successorship," he said.

HPR spoke to DHHL Spokesperson Cedric Duarte last year, who outlined how the current law came to be.

“It was never Kūhiō’s intent to apply any sort of limit or blood quantum,” said Duarte. “But the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act in and of itself is an act of compromise.”

He said that Prince Kūhiō faced opposition from ranchers and sugar interests who lobbied to limit the program to full-blooded Hawaiians. Kūhiō insisted on a blood quantum of 1/32nd, but securing passage of the act would require he compromise at 50%.

With Kahele's congressional role coming to an end, he said he hopes this issue is addressed by the 118th Congress in the next session. Jill Tokuda will be taking Kahele's place in early January.

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