LIHUE — The case against a Kanaka Maoli Hawaiian charged with commercial vending in a state park was tossed out of Kauai District Court on Thursday.
Punohu Kekaualua III, of Wailuauka, was standing at Waimea Canyon lookout last Feb. 25, wearing a malo and spirit helmet when he was cited for commercial vending within the jurisdiction of Division of State Parks by Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The petty misdemeanor offense was punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Kekaualua fought the charge. He said he was conducting religious and cultural rights afforded to Kanaka Maoli, or natives.
His motion to dismiss the case was denied in December, but he was acquitted on Thursday by Per Diem Judge Jonathan Chun of the 5th Circuit District Court, Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar said.
According to Kekaualua, the judge wanted to see if there was some compensation received or not, and did not consider donations as a fee.
“There is no sign and clearly other people were taking pictures without giving money, and it’s voluntary on their behalf,” Kekaualua said. “These visitors are not customers, but participants.”
DLNR describes illegal vending as a detriment to visitor experience as it decreases accessibility, overuses resources and devalues the wilderness experience at state parks. DLNR regulations say commercial activity involves activity in a state park for which compensation is received for goods or services to include display, demand or request.
“People of pae aina o Hawaii, educate yourselves on the truth of the fake state of Hawaii, rise up for your inherent birth rights, and don’t let them take your resources or be afraid or ashamed to be who you were born to be,” Kekaualua said. “Our peoples spirits are still here. For the love of a nation that still exists.”
Other cases on Thursday in 5th Circuit Court include:
– Kiliona Immanuel Hunkin, 18, of Anahola, was granted a deferred acceptance of his no-contest plea entered on Sept. 22, 2014, on charges of amended second-degree property damage, and resisting arrest. The term of deferment is four years for the felony, and one year for the misdemeanor and the 34 days time already served in jail. In addition, Hunkin must pay $375 in restitution to Kauai Police Department, and $100 to Hawaii Civil Defense.
– Pono Lanning Jr., 27, of Anahola, was sentenced to a four-year term with HOPE (Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement) for close supervision of high-risk offenders. He was given credit for the 264 days time already served since his arrest for third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug.
– Trevor Duane Choate, 44, of Lawai, appeared in the black and white striped Oahu Correctional Facility prison uniform for his motion to commute the five-year prison sentence he received for first-degree unauthorized entry conviction on Oct. 30. Judge Valenciano denied the motion, saying it was not for the break-in alone but the defendant’s off-island felony record was a factor in the sentencing.