Saturday, June 01, 2024


Hawai`i Supreme Court Rules For Mauna Kea Kia`i - Says Mauna Kea Access Road Belongs To Hawaiians, Not The Fake State














Big Island Video News - May 31, 2024 

The Hawaiʻi Supreme Court has ruled in favor of plaintiffs and vacated a circuit court decision on the jurisdiction of the Mauna Kea Access Road, a controversy that was central to the Thirty Meter Telescope standoff in the summer of 2019.

The plaintiffs – Native Hawaiian beneficiaries of the Hawaiian home lands trust, Pualani Kanakaʻole Kanahele, Edward Halealoha Ayau, and Keliʻi Ione, Jr – alleged the State of Hawaiʻi and the Hawaiian Homes Commission breached their trust duties by allowing the State to use the Mauna Kea Access Road without payment since the 1970’s, and that the attempt by the State Department of Transportation (DOT) to make the road a state highway in 2018, via internal memo, was illegal.

Opponents of the planned Thirty Meter Telescope occupied the base of the Mauna Kea Access Road (MKAR) in July 2019, blocking construction crews’ access to the mountain summit. Thirty-four individuals were arrested on the third day of the standoff, including plaintiffs Kanahele and Ioane.

Opponents of the TMT project disputed the State’s assertion that the portion of the road was a state highway….

On February 13, 2020, Plaintiffs filed suit in circuit court. Two years later, the court sided with the defendants, ruling Act 14 of 1995 “fully and finally resolved” claims which arose between August 21, 1959 and July 1, 1988, involving the “uncompensated use of Hawaiian homelands for state roads claims and highways.” The plaintiffs appealed the decision.

On Thursday, in its 47-page opinion written by Justice Sabrina McKenna, the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court held:

    Act 14 of 1995 does not preclude Plaintiffs’ claims;
    the portion of the MKAR going through DHHL lands is not a state highway because legal requirements for such a designation were not satisfied; and
    the State blatantly disregarded unambiguous requirements of the “Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920” (“HHCA”), and in doing so, breached its constitutional and fiduciary obligation to faithfully carry out the HHCA. Haw. Const. art. XII, § 2; Ahuna v. Dep’t of Hawaiian Home Lands, 64 Haw. 327, 338, 640 P.2d 1161, 1168 (1982).

The Hawaiʻi Supreme Court wrote that the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands “failed to prevent the DOT from illegally assuming control and jurisdiction over the MKAR in 2018,” and added:

    It is troubling that the DOT unilaterally designated the MKAR as a state highway via an internal memo. Instead of following the procedures for a land exchange or sale as described in HHCA sections 204(a)(3) and 205 and 43 C.F.R. part 47, the State – particularly the HHC members and DHHL – blatantly breached their fiduciary duties by allowing the illegal taking and then failing to remedy the designation that violated the HHCA. Hence, the MKAR was not properly designated a state highway.

The Hawaiʻi Supreme Court vacated the circuit court’s March 16, 2022 final judgment and remanded to the circuit court for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.

The Thirty Meter Telescope project has been stalled ever since the 2019 standoff on the Mauna Kea Access Road, and no further progress towards construction has been made.