Let’s work together on Coco Palms

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.

  1. larry January 28, 2018 5:27 am Reply

    …..and for all who didn’t think about it…….the activities soon to take place there are going to create a nightmare at that intersection and the highway……I say make them work at night

  2. Steven McMacken January 28, 2018 6:36 am Reply

    This seems like a reasoned and sensible approach. But has the horse already left the barn?

  3. Ken Conklin January 28, 2018 7:46 am Reply

    In many third-world nations (including Mexico for example, where I have traveled by car) anybody passing through the “turf” or “territory” of a gang leader, mafioso, or warlord might be stopped on the highway at gunpoint and ordered to pay a “toll” or “tax” for the privilege of passing through. I hope nothing like that happens in Hawaii. “Hawaiian culture” is an integral part of what makes Hawaii a special place, and for more than two centuries it has been freely shared with everyone. If ethnic Hawaiians think their racial group “owns” hula or taro farming or Hawaiian language, then perhaps Caucasians as a racial group should demand that ethnic Hawaiians must pay royalties or “culture tax” to Euro-American Caucasians for use of the English language, for Christianity, for the concept of private ownership and rule of law, for the use of reading and writing, etc. Hawaiians might well be the world’s biggest appropriators of foreign culture. So, Michaelle Edwards, let’s make ’em pay, eh?

  4. JKS January 28, 2018 8:23 am Reply

    Yeah great my ancestors sold the Coco Palms site in 1880s and now I can see that was a bad decision so I want a mulligan with 20% off the top for my homeless buddies to buy more drugs.

    I have a better idea. Lets give these bums 20% of YOUR house.

    Report: Occupants Have no Claim

  5. Manawai January 28, 2018 8:53 am Reply

    It’s so easy to give away other peoples’ property especially when one has nothing to loose.

  6. KawikaW January 28, 2018 9:13 am Reply

    The Coco Palms owners approached Charles and Noa before taking them to court. They offered them both paid positions and they would be in charge of maintaining what they were doing with the land and would be able to teach people about Hawaiian Culture, Farming, and History. Charles and Noa turned them down.

  7. Reverend Malama Robinson January 28, 2018 9:35 am Reply

    Dear Ms. EDWARDS,

    I believe your heart is in the right place BUT your head is misguided…..

    Your ideas about profit, profit and more profit…. count how many times you say “profit”, is the point of contention here…
    What if you replaced each elitist good intentions letter with an act of kindness instead.
    White privilege aside.


  8. Larry Allen January 28, 2018 10:47 am Reply

    Why don’t you invite these bums up to your property Michelle..

  9. billyjoebob January 28, 2018 1:49 pm Reply

    A little coral could be built right next to the taro patch where unicorns can be raised.

  10. Honey-Girl January 28, 2018 1:52 pm Reply

    A shame because there were no efforts by the local community or government to purchase this property? Exactly who are you saying should carry this shame? You can stand on the outside and look in with rose colored glasses and fantasize a utopia that fits your world view. These folks who have been living there now need support in dealing with their grief and in establishing a new place to live. I am assuming from your article that YOU will be leading this $50 million dollar cultural center? I would suggest that you graciously offer them to camp out on your property in Princeville until they can re-establish themselves. That would be a start in keeping it real.

  11. Steve Martin January 28, 2018 7:42 pm Reply

    Ms. Edwards if you are so concerned you should have bought the property yourself and done what you want to do with it.The county did not and still doesn’t have money to buy it. We don’t need it we already have plenty of parks that don’t have the money for maintenance. These squatters ae looking for a free ride and they are not going to get it. More than likely they will ignore what the judge ordered them to do. That way they will get 3 meals a day and a cot. Why don’t you drive by and see for yourself that these people are not doing what you think would be so cool. And be careful where you walk. Get over it. All of this is wasting our tax dollars wake up!

  12. Kalapakijim January 28, 2018 8:02 pm Reply

    I got a better idea, how about we kick the bums off the land they don’t own, and make them pay for the harm they have done to a legitimate project. Hawaiian culture? Give me a break….no written language, Stone Age tools is not culture.

  13. Sunrise_blue January 28, 2018 11:04 pm Reply

    I think the Polynesian Cultural Center and the fire knife championships held there, for about 7 years now is a great tourist attraction. This kind of event attracts many people. Making a luau show at the site would be a great idea.

  14. pamela burrell January 29, 2018 6:01 am Reply

    Michelle, what a concept. To actually honor and respect the host culture!

  15. Ruth Mano January 29, 2018 6:02 am Reply

    Dear Michaelle,

    I have a few problems with your plan.

    1.How do you explain State Labor laws that allow non-payment for VISA workers? Do you consider this VISA fraud by the Mormon Church?

    2. I believe that any action trying to bring in MORE visits from anyone is the problem in the first place.

    3. Do you worry about Mormons taking over Hawaii?

    4. If not, why not?

    Thank you

  16. Fathom January 29, 2018 10:43 pm Reply

    If you’re concerned about cartels similar to those in foreign countries infiltrating Hawai`i, READ THIS —


    Coco Palms Hyatt Resort developers have solicited investment loans of $500,000 each from as many as 172 wealthy Foreign Nationals, in exchange for automatic Green Cards and a direct path to U.S. Citizenship for these rich investors and each of their family members. These EB-5 Visas are often referred to as “Golden Visas’ for this reason.

    This Coco Palms Application, in the link below, shows how $86 million (2/3’s of the budget) for the 12,000 sq.’ Hyatt Resort was being raised through wealthy Foreign Nationals in exchange for Green Cards and a path to U.S. Citizenship for them and their family.

    These types of insured $500,000 ‘investment loans’ from wealthy foreign investors are happening all over Kaua`i, Hawai`i, and the United States of America —

    “The proposal identifies the new commercial enterprise (“NCE”) of the project as Lexden Coco Palms Loan Company, LLC, which was formed in the State of Delaware on January 31, 2014. The project is located at 4-947 Kuhio Highway, Kapaa, on the island of Kauai in the State of Hawaii. 172 immigrant investors will subscribe to the NCE as limited partners in exchange for capital contributions of $500,000 each and an aggregate of $86 million. The NCE will loan the $86 million of EB-5 capital to a third-party entity, Coco Palms Resort. The EB-5 capital loan proceeds will be used to acquire and re-launch The Coco Palm Resort as the Coco Palms by Hyatt in Kauai.”

    You can find this quote in the Lexden-Coco Palms Loan Company, LLC application at this link —


    The problem is, not even the U.S. Government is able to verify the true identities of these wealthy investors and their families, nor are they actually able to validate where this money comes from. That is why these types of investments may pose a National Security threat for us all. Here is a report from the United States Government Accountability Office —

    “The report concluded that because of difficulties ensuring the integrity of the Regional Center Program, USCIS was limited in its ability to prevent fraud or national security threats and could not demonstrate that the program was benefiting the U.S. economy and creating full-time employment as required by law.”

    “USCIS has identified fraud and national security risks in the EB-5 Program in various assessments it conducted over time and in collaboration with its interagency partners.”

    “Specifically, a senior FDNS official noted that while adjudication of petitions in the EB-5 Program, like other immigration programs, centers on the eligibility of the petitioner, the EB-5 Program also has an investment component that creates increased program complexity and the potential for fraud risks.”

    “However, according to USCIS officials, it can be difficult to verify the sources of immigrant investors’ funds and such verification difficulties could pose fraud risks to the program. For example, USCIS officials told us that some petitioners may have strong incentives to report inaccurate information about the source of their funds on their applications in instances when the funds come from illicit—and thus ineligible—sources, such as funds obtained through drug trade, human trafficking, or other criminal activities.”

    “USCIS officials said that IPO and FDNS did not have a means to verify self-reported immigrant financial information with many foreign banks. In addition, both USCIS and State officials noted that they did not have authority to verify banking information with many foreign countries. For example, State officials said that because the U.S. government lacks access to many foreign financial systems, there is no reliable method to verify the source of the funds of petitioners.”

    “Legitimacy of investment entity – The amount of investment required to participate in the EB-5 Program, coupled with the fact that EB-5 investors are making an investment in order to obtain an immigration benefit, can create fraud risks tied to unscrupulous regional center operators and intermediaries. According to SEC officials, they have identified instances of fraudulent investment schemes, including securities fraud, related to EB-5 investments.”


    This ‘Advisory’ from the ‘U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’ (FinCEN) one of many reasons the Lexden-Coco Palms Loan Company’s statement about their EB-5 Visa program should be a concern to us all —

    “Although FinCEN to date has focused on residential real estate, money laundering can also involve commercial real estate transactions.”

    “Real estate transactions and the real estate market have certain characteristics that make them vulnerable to abuse by illicit actors seeking to launder criminal proceeds. For example, many real estate transactions involve high-value assets, opaque entities, and processes that can limit transparency because of their complexity and diversity. In addition, the real estate market can be an attractive vehicle for laundering illicit gains because of the manner in which it appreciates in value, “cleans” large sums of money in a single transaction, and shields ill-gotten gains from market instability and exchange-rate fluctuations. For these reasons and others, drug traffickers, corrupt offcials, and other criminals can and have used real estate to conceal the existence and origins of their illicit funds.”

    “FinCEN’s analysis of BSA and GTO reported data, law enforcement information, and real estate deed records, as depicted by the case studies in this advisory, indicates that high-value residential real estate markets are vulnerable to penetration by foreign and domestic criminal organizations and corrupt actors, especially those misusing otherwise legitimate limited liability companies or other legal entities to shield their identities. In addition, when these transactions are conducted without any financing (i.e., “all-cash”), they can potentially avoid traditional anti-money laundering (AML) measures adopted by lending financial institutions, presenting increased risk.”

    “Money laundering is a crime orchestrated to conceal the source of illegal proceeds so that the money can be used without detection of its criminal source.”

    “Use of Shell Companies Decreases Transparency – Criminals launder money to obscure the illicit origin of their funds. To this end, money launderers can use a number of vehicles to reduce the transparency of their transactions. One such vehicle, highlighted in the below case study, is the use of shell companies. Shell companies are typically non-publicly traded corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), or trusts that have no physical presence beyond a mailing address and generate little to no independent economic value.Most shell companies are formed by individuals and businesses for legitimate purposes, such as to hold stock or assets of another business entity or to facilitate domestic and international currency trades, asset transfers, and corporate mergers. Shell companies can often be formed without disclosing the individuals that ultimately own or control them (i.e., their beneficial owners) and can be used to conduct financial transactions without disclosing their true beneficial owners’ involvement. Criminals abuse this anonymity to mask their identities, involvement in transactions, and origins of their wealth, hindering law enforcement efforts to identify individuals behind illicit activity.”

    “Criminals can use all-cash purchases to make payments in full for properties and evade scrutiny— on themselves and the origin of their wealth—that is regularly performed by financial institutions in transactions involving mortgages. All-cash transactions account for nearly one in four residential real estate purchases, totaling hundreds of billions of dollars nationwide, and are particularly exposed to abuse.”

    The entire FinCEN report can be read at this link —


    Here is how another Kaua`i resort development is soliciting these EB-5 investment loans to wealthy Foreign Nationals —


    As this 2015 column explains —


    “Through the EB-5 visa program, wealthy foreigners can invest $500,000 to $1 million in development projects and in turn, receive green cards for themselves and family members if the investment can be shown to create 10 U.S. jobs. The program is now up for Congressional reauthorization.”

    “The ability to monetize a scarce public asset — access to the United States — has become a gravy train for developers seeking cheap loans, immigration attorneys, China-based migration agencies and federally-authorized investment packagers known as regional centers.”

    “The profits at stake prompt deceptive practices — both in marketing investments and claiming job creation — that distort the intent if not the letter of the law.”

    “But claiming that EB-5 investments create jobs at no expense to the taxpayer is bogus. It’s also why an expected compromise regarding reauthorization of EB-5 falls short, despite improvements to the program.”

    “The green card alchemizes profits. Think about it: As long they get green cards, the immigrant investors don’t really care about interest and will take a 1 percent return. Meanwhile, the entrepreneurs getting the loan are eager to pay the regional center 5 to 8 percent as opposed to 12 percent they might have to pay on the open market.”

    “Yes, it’s unseemly that green cards can be acquired so cheaply. And I say cheaply, because remember, investors are not giving up $500,000; they’re just parking it for five years or so, and the major cost is foregone interest and fees.”

    “The Government Accountability Office this year concluded that the agency overseeing EB-5, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, could not validly analyze job creation. After all, projects financed through regional centers don’t require a headcount of employees. An economist’s report, which calculates not only direct jobs, but also indirect and induced jobs caused by spending, can suffice.”

    “One of the oddities about the EB-5 program is that the U.S. government is giving out the green cards, but the entrepreneur who puts together the investment gets the money. This scheme seems inefficient and open to corruption.”

    “EB-5 represents “corporate welfare” for certain businesses.”

    “In a modest reform, the new legislation mandates that one of the 10 required jobs be a direct job, validated with a head count.

    “So the EB-5 industry will still benefit from rules that allow them to credit immigrant investors for jobs created by the entire pot of money.”

    “In other words, the immigrant investors got credit for jobs financed by public subsidies and government-authorized tax-free bonds, funding that was already in place, not leveraged by the EB-5 investment.”


    We have to Wake Up to the reality that this is happening all over Hawai`i — not not only through the Coco Palms Hyatt Resort developers, but Everywhere!

    Please support the Hawaiians in their fight to protect their homelands from big developers who are using opaque foreign investment `loans’ to develop their lands and reroute Hawaii’s natural water systems.

  17. Manawai January 31, 2018 8:19 am Reply

    “Respecting the host culture” had nothing to do with giving up your private land to a bunch of self-styled sovereignty activists who ignore the fact that their purported Kapule ancestors lost ownership of that property during KINGDOM times. Maybe they missed that day in Hawaiian history class. This has nothing to do with the “occupation of Hawaii by the USA” and everything to do with unemployed free-stuffers who found a way to freeload off of others and be supported by patronizing haole fools. They have absolutely no right to occupy and live on that land. If they had some legal counsel they’d be told that…which is the probably reason they avoid legal assistance and enter pro se in court.

  18. DevelopmentIsRegression February 1, 2018 1:42 pm Reply

    Isn’t the Coco Palms development a money laundering scheme to sell citizenship to the Chinese?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.