Celebrating 40 Years of Keeping the Tradition Alive
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.
MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
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 this year on its’ last forty 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!
(Honolulu, HI) – On June 29, 2015 starting at 8:30 a.m., circuit judge Jeannette Castagnetti will hear evidence regarding whether the State of Hawai‘i has failed to fulfill its constitutional mandate to provide the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands with sufficient funding for its operations. In 2007, the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, on behalf of six Native Hawaiian beneficiaries, sued the State of Hawaiʻi over its failure to sufficiently fund the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL), and the DHHL for its failure to seek sufficient funding from the State. By the time the lawsuit, known as Nelson v. Hawaiian Homes Commission, reached the Hawai‘i Supreme Court in 2012, two of the original six plaintiffs had passed away. “In 1978 the waiting list was at 5,700. By the end of 2013, it was over 26,000. Without adequate funding, the DHHL is unable to fulfill its purpose: to return Native Hawaiians to the land.” said Moses Haia, Executive Director for the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation. Haia continued “Our clients and the community have been waiting a long time for the State to fulfill its responsibility, the time is now.” Judge Castagnetti’s courtroom is on the fifth floor of Kauikeaouli Hale, 1111 Alakea Street.
The Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC) has added three members to its board of directors: Mālia Ka'aihue, Gina Lobaco and Mark Kawika Patterson.
“We’re excited to have Mālia, Gina and Mark join the leadership of our organization because each one brings their own tremendous personal and professional experience and skill to the table and strengthens and diversifies the make-up of our board,” said Moses Haia, executive director of NHLC. “This is critical for NHLC's continuing evolution as an organization committed to the effective and efficient protection and preservation of the rights of Native Hawaiians.”
Ka'aihue, Ph.D., is a partner and vice president at DTL, a Hawaiian strategy studio, where she is responsible for daily operations and client service. Ka'aihue formerly served as director of community planning at WCIT Architecture, founding editor of MANA Magazine and chief knowledge officer at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Ka'aihue also taught and directed programs at the University of Hawaii System for 12 years.
Lobaco, who has more than 20 years of experience in fund development, serves as associate director of philanthropy at The Nature Conservancy of Hawai`i where she is responsible for funding of the Palmyra Program. Her career includes senior development positions with both Hawaii- and California-based organizations including Para Los Niños, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Bet Tzedek Legal Services and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California.
Patterson’s career spans nearly 30 years working in various capacities within corrections facilities in Hawaii and Nevada. He currently is administrator of the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility, responsible for management and operations. Patterson’s career also includes senior positions at Hawaii Women’s Community Correctional Center and the Halawa Correctional Facility.
NHLC’s board also includes:
· Puanani Burgess (NHLC Board President), a community development consultant;
· Roy Catalani (NHLC Board Vice President-External Affairs), an attorney and vice president at Young Brothers;
· Walter Mehe'ula Heen, a retired attorney and Associate Judge of the Hawai'i Intermediate Court of Appeals from 1981 to 1994;
· Mike Hodson, a retired County of Hawai‘i police officer and current farmer on Hawaiian Homestead lands;
· Jon Matsuoka, CEO of the Consuelo Foundation;
· Robert Merce, (NHLC Board Vice-President-Internal Affairs), a retired attorney; and
· Teresa Tico, an attorney and filmmaker.
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.
Click here to read more about this year's Native Hawaiian Community Advocate Awardee Judge Walter Meheula Heen!
Moses Haia, Judge Heen, and his grandson Christian at the CNHA Convention on October 2, 2014.
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Your donation will enable the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation to provide effective, low cost legal assistance to individuals, families and communities who seek to protect their traditional cultural practices and maintain their ancestral ties to their lands and natural resources.
Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise
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