WAILUA, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kauai police and the prosecutor's office are debating whether to take action against a group of people who have been camping out at the abandoned Coco Palms Resort — some for as long as a year.
The iconic resort has sat idle since Hurricane Iniki caused major damage to it in 1992.
About 20 Native Hawaiians who say they are descendants of Kauai's last ruling king and queen have been occupying the property. They claim to have a birthright to the land -- and the documents to prove it.
One of the group members, Kamuela O Kamehameha, went on Facebook Live to respond to people skeptical of the family's claim to the Wailua property. In the video, he describes himself as, "One of the owners with the royal patents on this land."
"If you can do Hawaiian history and the land that you live in today that you're illegally occupying, by war crimes, pillaging, etc., that your kupunas did to my people, you should learn the facts about the history of our kuleana and what has been going on," Kamehameha says in the video.
But the resort's developers say otherwise.
"The county recognizes us as the owner of the property, and so we see it as criminal trespassing," said Tyler Greene of Greene Waters, which is rebuilding the resort. "And so that was the reason for us reaching out to the county prosecutor's office to get some guidance on the best way to approach things."
Greene said they first encountered the group only three weeks ago, as they worked on demolishing parts of the old resort.
The developers finally closed on the purchase of the property last July, after they got the permits to begin the long-awaited reconstruction of the resort.
Greene said that the occupation of the land isn't stopping the work.
"Fortunately, this is a different section of the property, and the good news and the upside is we're rounding third base on the selective demolition," he said.
Greene said the demolition is expected to finish next month, with reconstruction to begin in August.
The resort is expected to be completed near the end of 2018.
Meanwhile, one of the leaders of the group on the land declined an interview, but promised to send copies of the documents that prove they are the rightful landowners.