Waianae homeless leaders say the state blocked a CNN story about their camp

Updated: Dec. 22, 2017 at 6:31 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WAIANAE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The leader of Waianae's largest homeless village was hoping a film production crew working on a show for CNN would help tell their story to the world – until the crew's application for a one-day filming permit was denied by the state.

"They were going to bring more awareness to see if we can get more help out there, like sponsors and what not," said Twinkle Borge, the leader of Puuhonua O Waianae.

The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources objected to the film crew giving the Waianae homeless camp national publicity, saying the following in a statement:

"Bringing attention to this area on a national level has the possibility of suggesting that the State is okay with the current human occupation on this property, and while we continue to be in discussions with various parties about this property and its future use, at the moment we are not interested in the possibility of people living there being inaccurately or inappropriately portrayed to a national television audience."

Borge feels the censorship is part of an effort to force the camp to close.

"I was kind of angry when they told me they got denied," Borge said. "We have been here this long and all of a sudden it's a problem and you want to take it from us? Shame on you."

The state also claimed that the 16-person film crew would have had an impact on opae'ula, a protected species of tiny red shrimp which live in deep sinkholes around the camp. Borge, though, says it's the campers who have taken on responsibility for the animal's sustainability in the area.

"I believe they used that as an excuse," she said.

It's not the first time Borge has perceived that the state is attempting to push the homeless out. In October, state officials closed certain water spigots at the Waianae Small Boat Harbor for a road repaving project, causing the struggling families to find new supplies of water.

In an email to Hawaii News Now, the state said it had "no obligation to provide services to people camping illegally on state property."

The camp has the support of many in the Waianae community, including the neighborhood board.

"We're trying to play ball and we are trying to do everything to show we're willing to abide by the rules, but the state is not allowing that to happen for us to remain there," said Marc Paaluhi, a supporter of Puuhonua O Waianae.

The state refused Hawaii News Now's request for an interview on the status of the camp for this story. The film company that was denied a permit did not respond to our calls.

Copyright 2017 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.