Beneficiaries and those on the waitlist for Hawaiian homestead property called for legislative change before the state Senate Committee on Hawaiian Affairs on Monday.
During the informational briefing, homesteaders expressed concerns about what they described as the poor conditions of the houses they received from the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.
“I’ve been asking for a hearing for my home and not one engineer comes in 11 years,” said Iwalani McBrayer, a Kapolei homesteader. “You see the plumbing, the foundation, everything and a non-responsive department.”
Those who were on the waitlist said they worried they would die before ever receiving any property.
“I’ve been on the waitlist since 1971. I had to wait for my parents to die before I got on Nanakuli [land],” said Mike Kahikina, a former state representative who was on the Hawaiian Homes Commission from 2011-2019.
Robin Danner, chairman of the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Association, asked the committee to introduce a 16-point bill that would amend the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.
“This is how the state treats us, paternalistically, as if somebody always has to do it for us. We want DHHL off our field. We will come out of the bleachers and we will thrive as a people,” she said.
“DHHL must be forced to give land to beneficiaries, give water to beneficiaries, give our trust assets to beneficiaries,” Danner said.
Department Director William Aila Jr. was not at the meeting.
“I had spoken to Chair (Maile) Shimabukuro prior to hearing being scheduled and we agreed that this hearing would be an opportunity for beneficiaries to address their concerns directly to the committee without my attendance," Aila said in a statement.