Protesters who ‘reclaimed’ DHHL land step up pressure campaign — and make plans to stay

“This land was just wasting away. It’s just growing ... overgrown with invasive species,” said Manaole.
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 5:33 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 14, 2023 at 12:09 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Frustrated by the state Department of Hawaiian Home Land’s growing waitlist, Native Hawaiian activists are increasing the pressure on the department.

Over the weekend, one protester ― De Mont Manaole ― used an excavator to clear a long-vacant, four-acre DHHL parcel that was overrun by weeds and nonnative trees.

“This land was just wasting away. It’s just growing ... overgrown with invasive species,” said Manaole.

“It’s sad that they’re not taking care of it.”

Manaole, a second generation Native Hawaiian on the DHHL’s waitlist, “reclaimed” the land in protest to the department’s sluggish pace of building housing for Native Hawaiians.

The department’s waitlist for a homestead now stands at about 28,000 people.

Native Hawaiian protesters who are ‘tired of waiting’ stage protest to claim DHHL lands

Even though the DHHL didn’t issue him a lease, Manaole said he will build a home and conduct agroforestry farming on the land.

“We’re just tired of waiting to die on the list. If we don’t take action now, we’re gonna end up dying. We cannot wait,” he said.

The property is one of several on Oahu and on Molokai that are being “reclaimed” by DHHL beneficiaries.

The department’s interim chair said he understands their anger.

“I understand the waitlister’s frustrations. The fact that the waitlist is at 28,000 is unconscionable,” said DHHL interim Chair Ikaika Anderson.

Anderson said he’s also frustrated the Waianae parcel has been allowed to go vacant so long by the DHHL’s previous administration.

“I am concerned that there wasn’t enough of an interest by my immediate predecessor to put out for lease parcels to our beneficiaries,” he said.

Anderson said he’s confident his successor ― local developer and past DHHL chief Kali Watson ― will work with beneficiaries to reduce the DHHL’s waitlist.