What if the Coco Palms landowners and Charles Hepa and Noa Mau-Esprito worked together?
The developers could make an agreement that permits them to stay and live on the land as the ancient Hawaiians did. Allow tourists to only visit certain areas, such as their taro patch, to learn about Hawaiian farming methods. Leave them to live peacefully in the back of the property and keep visitors away from their private area.
The hotel could feature programs in Hawaiian culture and give 10 to 20 percent of all revenue derived from the culture back to the Hawaiian people of Kauai.
I think it would be fair and prudent for the state to enact a Hawaiian cultural tax on any corporation or business that derives profits from the native culture, an example being hotel luaus.
I was just visiting New Zealand and the Maori people own the cultural centers that the tourists visit, so any revenue goes right to them. One does not see hotel chains in New Zealand that market Maori dancing at their facility. Unlike Hawaii, profits derived from the marketing and selling of Maori culture goes directly to the Maori.
The Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu is the biggest tourist attraction in the entire state and it is owned by the Mormon Church. They pay no taxes and many of their workers are not paid a wage but are employed in exchange for attending Brigham Young University.
The Hawaiian culture is the attraction and its seems fair that revenue collected by any hotel luau or cultural facility such as the Polynesian Cultural Center should pay a Hawaiian cultural tax of 10 to 20 percent of profits.
This would ensure a steady revenue stream for Hawaiian people and make some amends for lands lost and culture hijacked for profit. Even Disney has resorts in Hawaii that make profits from selling the Hawaiian culture.
So the hotel owners should work with the squatters and create a win-win for all. Rather than fighting about it, make the best of the situation.
None of what happened regarding the takeover is fair in hindsight. We cannot go back in time, so now we need to make laws that give revenue back to the Hawaiian people for profits being made now through the marketing of Hawaiian culture.
In hindsight, our county government could have gotten involved to purchase that property instead of it being sold to create yet another hotel.
It’s a shame that there was not a movement by the local community or government to purchase the property to create a Kauai cultural center.
This center could have employed native people and provided an income stream directly to them to assist with housing, healthcare and education.
Profits made off the Hawaiian culture need to be taxed and portions given back to the people of this land. This could help pay back a debt that is owed to the people whose land was stolen from them by the U.S. government so long ago.
If the developers decided to give up and sell out, we all need to work together to make a Kauai cultural center a reality for the Hawaiian people.
Michaelle Edwards is a resident of Princeville.