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Over 350 acres of land on Molokaʻi returned to Native Hawaiians

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Office of Gov. Josh Green
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Gov. Josh Green announced the return of more than 363 acres of land on Molokaʻi back to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands on Jan. 13, 2023.

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands plans to transform hundreds of acres of its revenue-generating lands on Molokaʻi into potential homestead lots for Native Hawaiian beneficiaries.

DHHL has leased the property in Hoʻolehua to various federal agencies since the 1960s. The most recent lease with the U.S. Air Force expired at the end of last year.

More than 360 acres of largely pastoral lands on the northside of Molokaʻi are being returned to directly serve beneficiaries, said DHHL acting director Ikaika Anderson.

"From what we’ve heard from the residents of Molokaʻi, the property has some solid opportunities for pastoral leases," Anderson said. "And when you look at the Hawaiian Homes waiting list the majority of the waitlist is not residential on the neighbor islands."

The Hoʻolehua property has been generating $40,000 a year in revenue for DHHL under a lease with the U.S. Air Force that began in the 1980s. DHHL first leased the land to the Federal Aviation Administration for telecommunications use in the 1960s.

Former Hawaiian Homes Commissioner and Kalamaʻula homesteader Gene Ross Davis said he was pleasantly surprised by the announcement.

"We call that place 'Antennae Farm' but they dismantled that way back in the 80s, so it kinda sat there all these years kinda vacant not knowing there was an expiration date on it," Davis said.

DHHL owns more than 25,000 acres of land on Molokaʻi, and currently has more than 2,100 applications from Native Hawaiian beneficiaries requesting a homestead lot on the island.

But before DHHL makes this Hoʻolehua land available for homesteading, Anderson stressed the importance of hearing from Molokaʻi beneficiaries.

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at khiraishi@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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