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People's Water Conference #9
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People's Water Conference #9

FEBRUARY 13, 1993


Any discussion of DHHL rights involves the idea of reserving water. The question of how the code will protect DHHL rights illuminates how the permit system as a whole will work as well as other aspects of the code. Without water, Hawaiian home lands for practical purposes do not exist. Yet this "water" -which Hawaiians do not have access to -- is a critical issue facing the commission now starting the mandated review of the Hawaii Water Code. Unless the Commission on Water Resources Management knows how much water is available (not reserved) it will be difficult to allocate water for competing interests.

Two important documents address this issue. Article XII, of the Hawaii Constitution and the recently passed Act 325 which addresses implementation of Article XII.

Article XII incorporates the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 in its entirety into the 1978 Hawaii Constitution.

The State and its people have broken faith! The public and the "powers that be" have either ignored or are unaware that when the voters ratified the amended Hawaii Constitution in 1978, they signed a legal agreement that the State and its people do hereby accept, as a compact with the United States, the conditions or trust provisions imposed by the United States relating to the disposition and management of the Hawaiian Home lands. Moreover, the voters affirmed this compact: "The State and its people do further agree and declare that the spirit of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act looking to the continuance of Hawaiian homes projects for the further rehabilitation of the Hawaiian race shall be faithfully carried out."

To add insult to injury, what has happened to the requirement that "Thirty percent of state receipts derived from the leasing of lands cultivated as sugarcane lands on the effective date of this section shall continue to be transferred to the native Hawaiian rehabilitation fund whenever such lands are sold, utilized, transferred, set aside or otherwise disposed of for purposes other than the cultivation of sugarcane. There shall be no ceiling established for the aggregate amount transferred into the native Hawaiian rehabilitation fund."

(Hawaii Constitution, Article XIII, Sections 1 and 2) Where is this water? Where are the projects? The conference is looking for creative solutions and support from all of us. These issues demand solutions.

According to Alan Murakami, Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation: "The upcoming 9th Annual People's Water conference will bring into focus the pressing issues involving Hawaiian water rights, as they affect the implementation of the 1987 Water Code. As the 100th year commemoration of the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii begins, Hawaiians will be pressing for greater self-governance and a share of the critical resources, like water to support their future economic development. State and federal laws already promise Hawaiians priority for water to support meaningful Hawaiian homestead development, to cultivate taro and to support traditional gathering rights. However, these laws have not been fully implemented. On the other hand, full implementation of these rights could heavily impact the availability of water resources for other competing developments and agricultural activities. The conference will explore the range of issues related to this neglected area of water law and management. Hopefully it will enlighten those interested as well as those affected so greater common understanding will result about one of the most critical concerns facing Hawaii at the dawn of the 21st century."

For further information about THE PEOPLE'S WATER CONFERENCE #9" call Martha Black at 395-2127.

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