WAILUA — About 80 people gathered at Coco Palms Sunday, expecting to be ejected and possibly arrested from the property.
But no law enforcement officers showed up to enforce the ejectment ordered last week by District Court Judge Michael Soong, after a nearly two-month-long civil trial.
Soong’s ruling ejected co-defendants Noa Mau-Espirito and Kamu “Charles” Hepa from the land. But not their supporters.
Mau-Espirito and Hepa watched from off the site. They didn’t want to get arrested, because they still want to fight for the land they claim is theirs through royal patent and ancestry.
Instead, the group of supporters stood at the entrance to the property where a gate once stood to keep the occupiers of the land safe.
During the trial, Mau-Espirito spoke of the many threats they received from people they say were employed by development company Coco Palms Hui.
Now that the trial is over, the gate’s been removed. The sentiment that’s been heard throughout the camp this weekend is that the people are now the protectors of the aina.
During Sunday’s ceremony, kupuna Puanani Rogers spoke, imploring those present to spread the aloha to the ohana.
“We’re all here for a good thing,” she said. “Thank you for being here. This is a good thing.”
Rogers said she was proud to be standing there, representing her family and everyone she loves.
“The greatest gift we can give is to forgive,” she said. “Stay in the attitude of aloha.”
Kupuna Liko Martin also spoke to the group, commending Mau-Espirito and Hepa for their bravery during the nearly year-long ordeal. He said if arrests were made, he would be the first one to go.
“But if someone comes here, I want to greet them and ‘E komo mai’ them,” Martin said.
“The story that’s going to unfold is a beautiful story of healing and forgiveness,” he told The Garden Island in a statement.
“It’s about doing everything we can do to live peacefully and together.”
The story, Martin said, isn’t just for the Hawaiian or Polynesian people. “It’s for the world,” he said.
After the ceremony, those present were invited to give a blessing on an altar near the entrance to the land.
Those remaining on the property said they will file claims of their own.
They won’t leave, they said.
Chad Waters of Coco Palms Hui could not be reached for comment.