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-four 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





~ 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







~ For more details, go to our Events page ~ Mahalo!

Aloha mai kakou! The Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation ‘ohana held its fundraiser on Saturday, October 7, 2017, from 5pm to 9pm at the Ko`olau Ballrooms.  The theme of this year’s fundraiser, He ‘a‘ali‘i au ‘a‘ohe makani e hina ai! (I am an ‘a‘ali‘i shrub; no wind can push me over), appropriately describes our honorees:  Senator Daniel K. Akaka and Governor John Waihe‘e III.

We celebrated forty-three years of service to Hawai`i and honored and paid tribute to each of our honoree’s lifelong commitment toward ensuring a just Hawai`i guided by Hawaiian values, customs and ways of knowing.

Our work is both important and rewarding and is simply not possible without the support of each of you.   On behalf of the staff, the board, and our current and future clients, mahalo nui loa for your continuing support in preserving the heart and soul of Hawai`i.  We had a wonderful dinner, silent auction with many unique items and live entertainment.



If you'd like to help please email or call (808) 521-2302.  Mahalo nui for your support!

All proceeds benefit the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.




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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