Tensions rise on Molokai as state sheriffs evict group who operated mule rides

Updated: Apr. 14, 2018 at 5:09 PM HST
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MOLOKAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - When state sheriffs went to evict the family-owned Kalaupapa Ranch Adventures (KRA) Saturday, there were tense moments stemming from an ongoing battle over land ownership.

At one point, sheriffs threatened to arrest a woman from the business.

KRA has operated out of land owned by R.W. Meyer for over 40 years.

They operated what's believed to be Molokai's best tourist attraction: mule rides over rugged terrain to the area of Kalaupapa.

Saturday morning, state sheriffs arrived to evict the business from the property. The incident was recorded on a Facebook live stream. (Note: Some language may be strong for some viewers.)

In a statement Saturday, Paul Meyer, president of R.W. Meyer, Ltd said:

"Since November 2016, we have reached out to Kalaupapa Rare Adventures multiple times to negotiate a new lease in good faith, even offering mediation as a way to resolve our differences. The only responses we have received from KRA were frivolous claims demanding millions in damages and a defiant refusal to pay their monthly rent for more than a year, show us proof of liability insurance and to honor the Court ordered Writ of Possession. Not only has KRA put our family trust at risk, their behavior has affected us financially and emotionally. We remain hopeful R.W Meyer will be able to continue the tradition of escorted tours on Kalaupapa Trail with another company, one that will negotiate a lease with us in good faith, honor our lease agreement and keep our visitors safe."

The disagreement began in January 2017 at the end of KRA's lease with R.W. Meyer.

Hawaii News Now previously reported that R.W. Meyer board members voted to increase KRA's rent from $1,800 to $3,000, and demanded 20 percent of the business profits.

"They basically want to up our rent and charge us a toll fee," Kalehua Sproat-Augustiro, a family member of the company, said last year.

"If anyone knows how it is to raise animals and to run a business here in Hawaii, they'll know that you're lucky if you even take home 20 percent after everything is paid out," she added.

According to R.W. Meyer, KRA stopped paying rent and has been unable to show proof of liability insurance, putting them at risk for lawsuits.

"This is about good business practices and fulfilling our responsibility to our shareholders and the 900 living descendants of R.W. Meyer. Everyday that Kalaupapa Rare Adventures operates without a lease agreement, we are put at risk, and they have refused to make any attempts to pay rent or even respond to our requests to negotiate a new lease. They left us no choice but to evict them from our property," Meyers previously said.

The Sproat family however claims they have Allodial Rights to the land. They have previously said the issue will be brought to court.

This story will be updated.

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