The Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC) is the only non-profit, public interest law firm, concentrating in the unique area of Native Hawaiian Rights law. NHLC provides legal assistance to families and communities engaged in perpetuating the culture and traditions of Hawai'i's indigenous people.

Founded by several grass roots leaders in 1974, NHLC was a volunteer-run referral service initially. But the high demand for direct help, especially from families who needed legal assistance in protecting their lands, transformed NHLC into a law firm that now provides low cost legal help to approximately 700 clients annually.



Through their practice of aloha `aina, Hawai`i’s original inhabitants ensured their continued existence in one of the most isolated and physically remote places on earth.  For them, aloha `aina became the foundational principle of their sovereignty.   This same principle continues to carry significant meaning for each of us and embraces much more than the western concept of “land” as a commodity because our capacity to reestablish that relationship with the `aina, or “that which feeds”, will decide the fullness of our life, our liberty, and our ultimate happiness. 

As the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation looks back on its’ last forty-five years of service as a guardian of the Native Hawaiian identity with a deep sense of pride and gratitude, we recommit ourselves to that kuleana and seek your continued kokua via a monetary donation to ensure our continuing capacity to seek and secure justice for the lands, resources, traditions, and customs of Hawai‘i's indigenous people.  Mahalo for your continuing support and commitment!

Moses Kalei Nahonoapi`ilani Haia III, Executive Director







Court protects Hawaiian religious practice of inmates





Happy Holidays from the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation `Ohana!
Mele Kalikimaka a me Hau`oli Makahiki Hou!




Wrap up your holiday shopping at: and AmazonSmile will donate to the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation.

When you shop at Amazon year round, AmazonSmile will donate a portion of the sale price to the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation.  You can also access AmazonSmile through the AmazonSmile Banner on this page and click on "Get Started".

Please let your ‘ohana and friends know.  Mahalo nui for your support!







The Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation has decided to represent the Abigail K. K. Kawananakoa Foundation in the current trust proceeding brought on by the medical problem suffered by Ms. Kawananakoa in June of 2017. In the first attached pdf statement, the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation and the Foundation explain their shared perspective on the reason(s) for their participation in this matter.

Also attached, is a statement by Dr. Lilikala Kameeleihiwa which shares how she has come to understand and appreciate Ms. Kawananakoa’s commitment to the Lāhui Hawai‘i and her kuleana to kānaka. Dr. Kameeleihiwa also offers her apology for any pain her prior words have caused Ms. Kawananakoa and those close to her.


Click here or the image below for the Statement 


Click here or the image below for the Statement 





 NHLC extends its deepest sympathy to the family of the late Robert “Gil” Johnston. Gil passed away on June 21st in Chicago and we would be remiss if we did not express our gratitude for all that he did for NHLC, the Hawaiian community, and Hawai‘i in general.  “He was a good man, an advisor to the founding board and was instrumental in getting NHLC started,” said Melody MacKenzie and Māhealani Wendt, two of NHLC’s former executive directors.











We are both pleased and humbled that Kealopiko has released its first design in their Makamaka I Collection. In this first collaboration with the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, Kealopiko uses its design skill and cultural knowledge and experience to highlight the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation’s work which has inspired the creation of three beautiful Kealopiko designs during this season of Kū. The first design in Makamaka I is a tribute to our basic foundation, the ʻiēwe, ka honua mua. After the ʻiewe (placenta) nurtures us in the womb, it is returned to honua upon our birth. As the origin of our islands holds great genealogical importance to us, the essential part the ʻiewe (placenta and afterbirth) plays in our coming to be is, likewise, of great genealogical significance.

The ʻiēwe collection was just released and is available online at or visit Kealopiko at the Ward Village, Honolulu.

This design entitled He Makamaka Aloha is modeled by NHLC staff attorney, Camille Kalama.

In addition to telling our stories, Kealopiko supports the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation by donating a portion of the proceeds from its sale of these designs.






~ Book Reading By Author Dana Naone Hall ~

Please join us on Saturday, May 5, 2018, at 4:00 pm, Dana Naone Hall will appear at the Hawaii Book and Music Festival, to perform readings from her book, “Life of the Land:  Articulations of a Native Writer”.   The Book and Music Festival is held on the Frank F. Fast Civic grounds next to Honolulu Hale at the corner of South King Street and Punchbowl.  Dana’s reading will take place at the Alana Hawaiian Culture Pavilion.  We hope to see you there.

“Life of the Land:  Articulations of a Native Writer” ~ Soft Cover 264 pages
Dana Naone Hall continues to advocate for the protection of coastal resources and shoreline access, as well as the preservation of historic and cultural sites.  She lives in Ha‘ikū, Maui.

This volume explores the inexhaustible relationship of the Hawaiian people to their native land.  Dana Naone Hall’s writings cover more than three decades of her political and cultural engagement in public, federal, state, and county processes.  As an activist with poetic sensibilities, Naone Hall demonstrates how meticulous analysis coupled with the power of the imagination can unlock new ways of seeing and relating to places that may not be immediately recognized as retaining profound Hawaiian elements.

This book will serve as a companion and guide to those engaged in protecting the sustained presence of Native Hawaiians on and in the land.

“Life of the Land:  Articulations of a Native Writer” by Dana Naone Hall is published by Ai Pōhaku Press and distributed by Native Books/Na Mea Hawai‘i and can be purchased online at the following link:

Mahalo for your support!





~ Honopou, East Maui~

On a site visit in 2004 in Honopou, East Maui, we witnessed Aunty Beatrice Kekahuna climbing the waterfall Hawaiian style, strong and barefooted. Our kupuna are amazing! In 2010 we presented her with the Native Hawaiian Advocate of the Year Award recognizing and honoring her for her exemplary achievements in the Hawaiian community. Click here to read more about Aunty Beatrice Kekahuna.






By Māhealani Wendt



For more than two decades, the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation has been involved in returning stream water back to East Maui farmers, fishermen and Native Hawaiian practitioners. Today, NHLC’s East Maui clients who are kalo farmers are enjoying an unprecedented rejuvenation since the streams were first diverted for commercial gain and profit over a century ago. In the article below, Māhealani Wendt captures eloquently what the passage of time has meant for those directly involved in the case. It is a story of hope, recovery and resiliency. NHLC’s clients will continue to advocate for the “end users” to ensure the survival of native habitats, fisheries, and shoreline ecosystems. Ultimately this is also a story of communities re-building their abilities to provide for themselves and beyond.

This has been an extraordinary time of ho`ohuli, of returning, reformation and reconciliation; of a circling back to our great traditions and wisdoms of the past. On the global stage, there has been no greater Hawai`i example than that of Hōkūle`a and its historic voyage, Mālama Hōnua. Our wa`a embarked on an epic journey and came home safely!

Ho`ohuli is also an apt word for the story of taro restoration in East Maui, for its literal root word, huli, is also the name of the taro plantling. This past year, in an historic development, the spirit of returning, of ho`ohuli, pervaded as wai was finally returned to Ko`olau Moku, Maui Hikina, Ke`anae-Wailuanui after more than a century of diversions to feed the thirsty sugar barons of Central Maui.
As a result, Mālama Hāloa -- caring for Hāloa or kalo -- has also seen an historic resurgence in our community. This portends well for communities like Ke`anae-Wailuanui whose inhabitants possess the `i`ini, the strong desire, to perpetuate traditions that will keep our people vibrant and healthy.

“They’re working with young people who don’t carry the same burden and memory they do; who just see all the fertile land, the water flows, the kupuna ready to teach them, and nothing but boundless possibilities that connect all of them to the past and the future and to feeding their communities.” - Summer Sylva, Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation

It has taken East Maui taro farmers organized as Na Moku Aupuni o Ko`olau Hui ("Na Moku"), with the help of  attorneys from the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, nearly two decades of legal battles and many more decades of struggle to accomplish this historic return.

While a decision on exactly how much wai those who, for centuries, have gorged and profited from it will have to restore, the unprecedented return of wai to East Maui in the interim has signaled a new beginning and great optimism for the future, as new generations of farmers return to land that once dried and cracked, is momona once more.

While we embark upon these new beginnings, many obstacles and challenges must overcome the wounds and trauma the diversion of billions of gallons of water annually inflicted on generations of Hawaiians:
• the loss of many kūpuna practitioners with their deep knowledge of the `āina and traditional farming, fishing and gathering practices;
• the opportunity lost to several generations who came into adulthood when farming was no longer viable due to lack of water;
• devastation caused by the thick overgrowth and proliferation of invasive plants and animals throughout the East Maui watershed during the decades when there weren't a sufficient number of farmers to carry out maintenance on a regular basis;
• severe degradation of the historic lo`i (taro patches) and auwai (traditional ditch) systems caused by invasives as well as unchecked erosion, segments of which are many miles in length along steep cliff sides along the Hana coastline.

In facing these challenges and obstacles, one of the greatest blessings to the farmers has been the partnership with the Hana-based non-profit, Ma Ka Hana Ka `Ike, and its affiliate organizations, Mālama Hāloa and Māhele Farms. Participants in the Mālama Hāloa (Ku`i) Program have cleared lo`i and planted thousands of huli in the Wailuanui taro complex under the direction of long-time kalo farmer Ed Wendt.  Their restorative efforts and maintenance throughout the Wailuanui lo`i complex have benefitted many of the farmers; in addition, the program shares Na Moku's commitment to restoring the streams and the lo`i they supply.  Restorative efforts include planting as well as many of the arduous tasks required to clear and maintain a lo`i complex spanning hundreds of acres.

The Mālama Hāloa program hosts Ku`i Thursdays at Hana School from noon through late afternoon and, according to its website, sometimes into the evening. This past year, they steamed nearly 10,000 pounds of kalo, and hosted an estimated 500 participants from keiki to kūpuna, including community members. The students ku`i (pound) kalo and have the opportunity to share the pa`i `ai with kupuna unable to come ku`i for themselves.

Up until now, kalo for Ku`i Thursdays has been supplied from outside East Maui, but East Maui farmers have great hopes that their contribution, the ‘āina’s bounty will be far more substantial in the future.
As we look forward to the bright promise of this coming year, i ke Akua ka ho`omau `ana i kana ho`opōmaika`i iā kākou a pau -- May God bless us all.





~ Oral Argument, Supreme Court ~ February 7, 2018 ~

To each and every person who attended today’s oral argument at the Hawaii Supreme Court on the issue of the duty of the State to provide a Hawaiian language education program on Lanai, mahalo nui for your overwhelming and greatly appreciated show of support for our client’s, the Clarabals, and all who will benefit from their courageous stand!

Moses K. N. Haia, III
Executive Director







A circuit court judge today (12/15/16) invalidated a 2014 Board of Land & Natural Resources (BLNR) decision approving a sublease between the University of Hawai‘i and the developer of the TMT telescope on Mauna Kea.  "Today, Mr. Kalani Flores and the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC) received a key ruling in the on-going struggle over the fate of Mauna Kea,” said NHLC attorney David Kauila Kopper. 


Click here or the image below for the Press Release






Leading non-profit and advocacy groups in Hawai‘i launched “The People’s Congress,” a new initiative to build a more just, fair and healthy future for Hawai`i. Working with organizations and individuals across the islands, this coalition seeks to end systemic barriers to justice with the launch of a “People’s Agenda” - a political and organizing strategy for lasting positive change in Hawaiʻi. 

Click here or the image below for the Press Release





State Supreme Court Rules TMT Permit Invalid, Construction on Hold and Another Contested Case Hearing to Be Held

 In short, BLNR acted improperly when it issued the permit prior to holding a contested case hearing. No case or argument put forth by UHH or BLNR persuades otherwise. The court vacates the circuit court's May 5, 2014 Decision and Order Affirming Board of Land and Natural Resources, State of Hawaii's Findings of Fact, conclusions of Law and Decision and Order Granting Conservation District Use Permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope at the Mauna Kea Science Reserve Dated April 12, 2013, and final judgment thereon. This matter is remanded to the circuit court to further remand to BLNR for proceedings consistent with this opinion, so that a contested case hearing can be conducted before the Board or a new hearing officer, or for other proceedings consistent with this opinion. For more information, click here for the Opinion.



 DECISION - Opinion of the Court





 In a 40-page decision issued late Friday afternoon, the court concluded, “the legislature has failed to appropriate sufficient sums to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands for its administrative and operating budget in violation of its constitutional duty to do so. This failure includes every fiscal year since at least 1992.” In her ruling Judge Castagnetti noted that the “DHHL suffers from a lack of funding and staffing, which adversely affects beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust.”

Moses Haia, the Executive Director of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation applauded the decision. “This has been a long time coming. We are thankful that the Court has provided the State and the DHHL with a roadmap for making good on the State’s constitutional mandate and on both the State’s and the DHHL’s trust duties under the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. We trust this ruling will ultimately result in a significant increase in the number of beneficiaries living on Hawaiian Home Lands.”  For more information, click here for the press release and here for the decision.



 DECISION - Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order




 DECISION - Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order Granting Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment




Trial began Tuesday in Circuit Court as two Native Hawaiian plaintiffs (Ku Ching and Mary Maxine Kahaulelio) are suing the State over the military training on tens of thousands of acres on ceded lands.

Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL


KITV News4 - State Sued Over Military Training on Ceded Lands




Maunakea Supreme Court Hearing: August 27, 2015 | Story from Oiwi TV on Vimeo.



Long-awaited Hearing on East Maui Water Rights Underway


State Has Failed to Protect Ceded Lands at Pohakuloa

On Friday, December 12, 2014 at 3:00 PM, Circuit Court Judge Gary Chang will consider arguments in his courtroom regarding the State's failure to protect public trust ceded lands at Pōhakuloa. Clarence Ching and Mary Maxine Kahaulelio, represented by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, filed a motion for summary judgment asking the Court to conclude that the State breached its trust obligations by failing to ensure that the military complies with the conditions of its lease at Pōhakuloa. They also ask the Court to bar the State from negotiating the extension of the existing lease, which expires in 2029, or entering into a new lease until the State ensures that the terms of the existing lease have been satisfactorily fulfilled.

In 1964, the State agreed to lease three parcels of land at Pōhakuloa to the Federal government for military purposes. Lease conditions, however, require the military "make every reasonable effort to . . . remove or deactivate all live or blank ammunition" and to "remove or bury all trash, garbage or other waste materials." The State has done nothing to ensure that the military has complied with its promises.

To read the motion for summary judgment, click here.









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