MOLOKAI (KHNL) - The fight over the Friendly Isle rages on, new growth versus no growth. A developer wants to build new homes on Molokai, but long time residents worry it'll ruin their small town way of life.
"We here today to save our island save Molokai, fight for a culture, for subsistence," Hanohano Naehu said.
Residents organized a marched in protest of a planned development project at La'au Point. Many feel that new homes at La'au would strike away at the Hawaiian way of life.
"Molokai is very Hawaiian - and La'au is critical for us to be Hawaiian cause that's where our resources are," Walter Ritte said.
But under the proposed project, which would develop 200 $1 million dollar homes, Molokai Ranch says native Hawaiian gathering rights would not be affected.
"The whole area along the shoreline will be protected for subsistence practices," Molokai Ranch Spokesperson John Sabas said.
The people of Molokai readily admit that the native Hawaiian feel of the island could be upset by a large scale housing project. That concern drew people from more developed parts of the state to protest.
"We know what can happen. We seen all that stuff happen. We come down and support, and make sure we keep Molokai, Molokai," Kekai Keahi of Lahaina said.
Marchers walked along the shoreline where the homes would be, and while the natural landscape would be dramatically changed, the Ranch says the new development would help jump start Molokai's struggling economic landscape.
"We've been losing a ton of money over the year - in the area of 3 million a year," Sabas said.
"It would help all of Molokai, because now our economy stinks. Molokai needs help," project supporter Bo Perez said.
As part of the proposed plan, 50,000 acres would go into a trust as conservancy land, and some of the money raised by the sale of the new homes would go to fund some of that land trust.