Till kingdom come

Kaua‘i County: Move over and share the power.

That’s the message from the leaders of the Polynesian Kingdom of Ato‘oi.

The kingdom, comprised of Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau, is a sovereign nation, with plans to draft laws, negotiate more trade agreements and work with the Kaua‘i Police Department to fight crime.

The kingdom also wants to help determine road map for development on the two islands.

In time, the kingdom also hopes to register and enroll every citizen of Kaua‘i County to provide improved government services, said Dayne Aipoalani, the ali‘i nui and a customary chief of the kingdom.

“I am involved because it is the right thing to do,” said Don Moses, a non-Hawaiian who is a kingdom member.

“I joined because it is good for everyone. We want to make this place a better place for everyone.”

Unlike the sovereignty or independence movements in the early 1970s that aimed for a renaissance of Hawaiian culture and language, the kingdom will work for the good of the “Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese or haole,” as well as the Hawaiians, Aipoalani said.

“People will like working with us because they will like the way we do it,” he said, adding the Kaua‘i Police Department, through a meeting with kingdom leaders on April 30, recognizes the kingdom, as does the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Leaders of the kingdom met with KPD officials in an effort to establish its legality and its sovereignty as a nation of the world, Freddie Patricio, a marshal of the kingdom, said.

“We gave them documents to explain what we are all about,” Aipoalani said.

The kingdom was first established through action by the United Nations in 1947.

It has jurisdiction over the two islands and crown lands in West Kaua‘i, kingdom members said.

Along with the kingdom of Ato‘oi, the UN created three other kingdoms in Hawai‘i during the same time, Aipoalani said.

Aipoalani said not much was said about the kingdom for nearly 50 years, because “of the suppression of what we represented,” Aipoalani said.

In 1994, he began making public declarations about the kingdom, establishing his right to lead it through his ancestral ties to the royalty of old Hawai‘i.

Related to King Kamehameha I, he said his great-grandfather was John Keli‘i Kanakaole Aipoalani, who was the ali‘i, or the chief, of the kingdom.

To legitimize the kingdom further, leaders have asked Gov. Linda Lingle to officially return the two islands to the kingdom, to declare the

non-existence of the state of Hawai‘i and the county of Kaua‘i and to allow for unimpeded access to ancestral lands and fishing grounds around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Patricio said Lingle cited her lack of authority to do so.

Kingdom leaders said they also will have law enforcement officers who will assist Kaua‘i police officers in responding to “breaches of the law,” Aipoalani said.

The kingdom will boast 13 marshals, six sheriffs, and one deputy chief, Patricio said.

Wiremu O Terangi Carroll, who said he is a U.S. marshal who recently transferred from the Big Island to Kaua’i, deputized Aipoalani and Patricio, who in turn deputized members of the kingdom’s law enforcement group.

The kingdom wants to play a key role in helping to shape the future of Ato‘oi, Aipoalani said.

Registering with the kingdom will allow a property owner, for instance, to have clear title to the land.

A cloud appeared over all properties with the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 and the annexation of Hawai‘i to the United States in 1898, Aipoalani said.

“Currently, a Kaua‘i property owner who is Japanese, Portuguese, Chinese or haole owns the land and has fee simple title, which was issued by the state of Hawai‘i or the county of Kaua‘i,” he said. “The issue is that these people think they have clear title, but they don’t. Registering with us will change that.”

Aipoalani said the kingdom also will ask the Kaua‘i County Planning Commission to only approve only “one subdivision at a time,” to help bring about more orderly development and to help the county and state catch up on infrastructure needs.

The kingdom also won’t support the Hawai‘i Superferry until the homeless problem on O‘ahu is mitigated or corrected, Aipoalani said.

“There are already enough homeless on Kaua‘i now, and the Superferry will only bring O‘ahu’s homeless here,” he said. “We don’t need that problem coming to Ato‘oi.”

The kingdom also is working with Kukui‘ula Development Company to give proper treatment to remains that may be found during the building of the 1,002-acre residential, commercial and resort project in Po‘ipu, Aipoalani said.

Aipoalani said no decision related to the kingdom is made in a vacuum, as he and 299 other customary chiefs must reach consensus before taking any action.

Philosophically, the kingdom is opposed to the Akaka bill, saying it is “racist” and works against Hawaiians, he said.

The bill was originally introduced by Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai‘i, and proposes to give federal recognition to native Hawaiians.

“What they like do, put us on reservations?” Aipoalani asked. “We are not Indians. We are Hawaiians.”

Translated, the Kingdom of Ato‘oi means the “Kingdom of the Light of God,” an entity with the primary goal of preserving the land, he said.

Customary Chief Kamali Kali said, “If this is God’s land, we should treat it like that.”

Aipoalani first made public declarations about the kingdom in 1994, but decided against promoting it because he didn’t want to interrupt the momentum of the sovereignty or independence movement.

“I wanted to give those guys a chance,” he said. “They had their chance, and there is still nothing. We aren’t just talking. We are doing.”

The decision by Agribusiness Development Corporation to prevent him from visiting ancestral sites in mauka areas in south Kaua‘i compelled him to advance the mission of the kingdom, he said.

“This was a burning issue for me,” Aipoalani said. “Now I can go (to the mountains).”

The Agribusiness Development Corporation was formed in 1994 to help Hawaii’s agriculture industry from sugar and pineapple — dominant commercial crops at one time — to diversified crops.

In December, Aipoalani met with representatives with Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., a leading supplier of genetically-modified agricultural products, and Syngenta Seeds, a global agribusiness company, to outline the mission of the kingdom.

Their first question caught him off guard, he said.

“They asked me whether we wanted shut them down,” Aipoalani said. “I told them, ‘we just want to regulate, not shut down. That is not what the Kingdom of Ato‘oi is about.’”

• Lester Chang, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or lchang@kauaipubco.com.

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