HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than three decades in the making the State of Hawaii and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs have settled their differences. The State is giving about 25 acres of land to OHA. It includes 10 parcels in Kakaako worth $200 million. Governor Neil Abercrombie says the value of the land is sure to go up.
There was applause and congratulations as the state house unanimously approved the settlement between the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Hawaii.
"Today we've taken a great step forward," said Governor Neil Abercrombie, after the vote. "We've established a foundation for the future not just of Native Hawaiians but all Hawaiians."
In the deal OHA will own the 25 acres of land along with the buildings that are on it including Fisherman's Wharf and the former John Dominis Restaurant site. It's prime real estate and most of it is right on the waterfront.
"Of course we have a lot of scrubbing down to do. There are a lot of things we will work on but I tell you we are landing on our two feet. It's not just shaky bottoms but we are solidly on our ground and that's the most important thing when we venture into this new arena," said Colette Machado, OHA Chairperson.
OHA will start planning and vows to allow input. Also any development must be approved by the Hawaii Community Development Authority. There are already some ideas on how to make money off the land.
"Restaurants, just follow the pattern from Ward Center across the street along the walkway. We're looking at a corridor that will extend to the ocean. No different from there. I'm not sure if they're making money but if you have the Hawaiians involved the heart is there and certainly anything can happen," said Machado.
"We're going to have a third city there. This is going to be the core of Urban Honolulu. This is going to be the rejuvenation of Native Hawaiians in terms of having a central role in their own destiny," said Gov. Abercrombie. "I am confident that the land base that is here now will increase in value virtually from the time the bill is signed. There will be a stewardship over the land now, respectful and visionary."
The land is still subject to all laws. The settlement means any ceded land dispute from 1978 to today is done. OHA is forever banned from filing a claim over the land that was taken from the Hawaiian Monarchy.
The governor plans to get all the procedural things in place and have a bill signing ceremony at Washington Place soon.