Report: Occupants have no claim

The two leaders of a mainly Native Hawaiian group occupying the former Coco Palms resort in Wailua apparently have no ownership rights to the property, according to papers obtained by The Garden Island, despite their contentions in the civil ejectment case against them in District Court.

A trial in the case enters its fourth full day today before Judge Michael Soong.

Noa Mau-Espirito and Charles Hepa have said throughout the eviction case that they have vested ownership rights by virtue of Hepa’s descent from Deborah Kapule, the last queen of Kauai, But a newly revealed title history of Coco Palms shows that Kapule’s family lost ownership rights in 1883.

Ironically, Kapule’s descendants were removed from ownership of land on which much of Coco Palms now lies as a result of an ejectment case brought by the last member of Kapule’s family with legal claim to the land against Junius Kaae, who had apparently leased the property. In 1883, the supreme court of the Hawaiian Kingdom ruled in Kaae’s favor, awarding him legal title to the property that now includes much of the Coco Palms resort.

These details emerged in a five-page sworn declaration signed last August by Colleen Uahinui, lead senior title abstractor in the Historic Title Services Department of Title Guaranty of Hawaii, Inc., in Honolulu. The company is a dominant issuer of title insurance in the state.

The Hawaiian Kingdom supreme court ruling in favor of Kaae appears to have rendered nonexistent any ownership connection between Kapule’s descendants and Coco Palms.

A copy of Uahinui’s declaration was obtained by TGI. A review of court records in the pending criminal trespass case of Mau-Espirito and Hepa — scheduled for trial for next month in Circuit Court — found that Kauai County Prosecutor Justin Kollar’s office included Uahinui on a list of prospective witnesses, although a related exhibit list does not include her declaration. The witness list was filed last November.

Reached for comment Monday afternoon, Hepa declined to say anything about the newly surfaced title history report on the record. He again asserted — reiterating claims he has made in court repeatedly — that he has genealogical evidence confirming he is a descendant of Kapule.

Kollar said his office did not request the report, but discovered it among prospective evidence files it obtained from Title Guaranty of Hawaii. The Uahului declaration has not been introduced as evidence in the ejection case and it was not clear if Hepa was aware of the document’s existence. Attorneys for Coco Palms said they had never seen the report.

Uahinui has appeared as an expert witness on title history issues on numerous occasions in a variety of forums. They include, among other venues, the Hawaii County Council, the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals and U.S. District Court.

Mau-Espirito and Hepa have repeatedly cited their alleged lineal descent from Kapule as a key factor in support of their occupation of Coco Palms. The Uahinui declaration appears to show that after the supreme court ruling in 1883 took effect, the Coco Palms land was next conveyed by Kaae to W.C. Parke on Jan. 20, 1902.

On the same date, Parke transferred ownership to the Lihue Plantation Co., Ltd., which changed its name in 1968, but was then absorbed through merger into an entity that retained the Lihue Plantation Co. name and re-recorded the Coco Palms ownership in 1969.

In 1982, Lihue Plantation Co. conveyed title to the property to Island Holidays, Ltd., a Hawaii corporation. Immediately after that transfer, Island Holidays transferred ownership to Fort Associates Limited Partnership, which was chartered in Texas, which then immediately conveyed the land to Wailua Associates, a California limited partnership. Frequent transfers of property among various corporate entities are common in the real estate industry.

Wailua Associates held title until 2006, when Coco Palms Ventures, LLC, the immediate predecessor of the current Coco Palms owners, a Delaware limited liability company called PR II Coco Palms, LLC. The most recent change in title, in 2014, confirmed the ownership of PR II Coco Palms, LLC, the entity owned by Chad Waters and Tyler Greene, who brought the eviction action last year after Mau-Espirito, Hepa and others occupied a portion of the resort property and claimed ownership for themselves and said they intended to settle Coco Palms as a Native Hawaiian community dedicated to agriculture, cultural practices and historic preservation.

The ownership history assembled by Uahinui started with a review of a royal patent conveyance. In 1853, title went to Iosia Kaumualii, describing it as an area of “17 eka, 3 ruda, 287 perka.”

Kapule is one of the most prominent figures in Kauai island history. She is thought to have been born about 1798 in or near Waimea. Her father is thought to have been High Chief Haupu of Waimea, although historic sources apparently disagree on this point. Kuamualii is one of the best known and most colorful regents in Kauai history. He had a long-term hostile relationship with Kamehameha, first in the line of kings of Hawaii that bore his name.

According to historian Edward Joestin in his book “Kauai: The Separate Kingdom,” originally published in 1984, Kapule was the “favorite wife” of Kaumualii. Joestin described her as a “bright and active woman” who played one of the most influential roles in public life on Kauai in the first half of the 19th Century.

Hers is the stuff of legend on Kauai. As Joestin described her: “She had great influence with the people of Kauai, as demonstrated by the crowds who met her when she returned from attending Kaumualii’s funeral. Later in her life, she relocated from Waimea to Wailua, where her home became a well-known stopping point for travelers.

Mau-Espirito and Hepa have frequently argued their lineal descent from Kapule, which the newly surfaced title report does not address or dispute.

The report, however, makes clear that whatever interest Kapule’s descendants may have had in ownership of the Coco Palms property was terminated in 1883.

Wayne Nasser, the Honoulu lawyer representing Coco Palms, said he was familiar with the ownership history described by Uahinui, though he said he had not seen and was unaware of the existence of the declaration. Nasser said the Oahinui declaration has not been offered in evidence in either the current ejectment trial or in a related civil case in which Coco Palms intends to seek a ruling on its legal title — as opposed to the somewhat different legal possession rights at issue in the current proceeding.

  1. Makaala Kaaumoana January 9, 2018 3:45 am Reply

    This very clear and cogent reporting of a complex issue is very appreciated by this reader. However the good work is blighted with frequent misspellings presumably not of the author’s writing. Distracting and not helpful.

  2. Bluedream January 9, 2018 4:12 am Reply

    Hit the road squatters. Not your land.. Beat it!

  3. Wally Roberts January 9, 2018 4:55 am Reply

    What a sad waste of the taxpayers’ money.

  4. Chris January 9, 2018 5:12 am Reply

    “Ironically, Kapule’s descendants were removed from ownership of land on which much of Coco Palms now lies as a result of an ejectment case brought by the last member of Kapule’s family with legal claim to the land against Junius Kaae, who had apparently leased the property. In 1883, the supreme court of the Hawaiian Kingdom ruled in Kaae’s favor, awarding him legal title to the property that now includes much of the Coco Palms resort.”

    – A little more information about Janius Kaae and his scandals.

  5. Neal Beissert January 9, 2018 7:19 am Reply

    Kudos’s to the Garden Island News and Allan Parachini on an excellent job of investigative reporting! In an era of Internet dominance it’s refreshing to see a local community paper step up and proudly announce “We Are Relevant!!”.

  6. meat_rocket January 9, 2018 8:34 am Reply

    Good maybe they can stop with all this nonsense.

  7. Manawai January 9, 2018 2:15 pm Reply

    An interesting read, Chris. Thanks for the link. It sounds like the corruption that Hepa and Mau-Espirito keep touting was rampant with Native Hawaiian power brokers in the Kingdom of Hawaii. Truth hurts!

    1. Tex January 10, 2018 9:57 am Reply

      Hmmm… I’ve been following this complex issue for months, now. In reading this phenomenal article, and every detail of the link that Chris has included, I have to agree with the comments above. There are no rights to possession, the Queen gave them away, so stop wasting the taxpayers valuable time, and money, and get out! Besides, the current court case is a simple ejectment process, not a debate over title, or even possession for that matter. The United States of America is a country, which you now reside in. Get over it, already!

  8. Susan January 9, 2018 5:49 pm Reply

    Amazing! It is sad to see a story portrayed as truth when it contains so many fallacies!

    It is obvious the author has no understanding of Hawaiian Property Law or else he would know that the Royal Patent AND Land Commission Award did not change from the time of the Great Mahele. He would,understand what he reported as a lease description in 1883 and a court case in 1886 where the owner did not obtain an eject order. It was also stated the judge issued to title yet, according to the laws of that era the title would be in Leasehold wherein the original owners receive back the property when the term expires, usually 65 years.

    So the property actually belongs to the family of Kaumuslil whose wife was Debra Kapule who is related to the two defendants.

    The author should note there was a LOT of fraud going on during the late 1st 00’s and early 1900’s! A check on the Induces of Awards published NY the “Territory of Hawai’i ” will show both the Royal Patent and the Land Commission Awards.

    I also note in the 1900’s that Juries Kate was involved in some other perjury. Perhaps his lease was up and it was 50 years, who knows but he was a deceitful man from historic accounts.

  9. MisterM January 9, 2018 6:07 pm Reply

    “In 1883, the supreme court of the Hawaiian Kingdom ruled in Kaae’s favor, awarding him legal title to the property that now includes much of the Coco Palms resort.”

    See ya. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Hope Greene et al get court costs and damages from these freeloaders. Looks like scamming runs in the family. Sad.

  10. Fathom January 9, 2018 7:34 pm Reply

    This Coco Palms Application shows how $86 million (2/3’s of the budget) for the 12,000 sq. ft. Hyatt Resort was being raised through 172 Foreign Nationals in exchange for Green Cards and a path to U.S. Citizenship for them and their family —

    “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 read the entire document at this link —
    As to the job creation numbers, the document in this post states that the 12,000 sq.’ Hyatt Resort will create less than 665 permanent jobs.

    On page 3, the table shows that less than 4 permanent jobs expect to be created per $500,000 loan made to Coco Palms HUI, LLC by each of the 172 foreign investors.

    This represents 664.3 permanent jobs total, but it also misrepresents the realistic numbers since a good portion of the “Food and Beverage Services” jobs are not positions hired by their resort, but instead factored in as jobs thought to be created by resort employees eating at local restaurants.

    The problem with this future calculation is that most Kaua`i resort employees eat meals provided by the resort itself, usually in a break room near the kitchen. Therefore, the numbers used in this document are calculated in ways that appear to show higher job creation potential than this Hyatt Regency development will actually provide.

    These EB-5 visas have tremendous benefits for these foreign investors. LLC’s make it easy to hide their identities from the public, In exchange for the $500,000 loan, the EB-5 Visa provides the investors with a Green Card, and a 5 year path to U.S. Citizenship for them and members of their family.

    This Green Card allows them to do business, donate to political action committees (SuperPACs), and travel freely anywhere within the United States without the the same legal restrictions normally imposed on Foreign Nationals.
    Do you ever wonder why so many Foreign Nationals are investing in Hawaii’s development projects at $500,000+ each?

    This corporation says that investment in Hawaii provides wealthy investors (from foreign countries) with automatic Green Cards; for them and their immediate family. These EB-5 Visa programs also give these investors a direct path to U.S. citizenship in 5 year — as well as the ability to sponsor extended family members.

    This is a quote from their website (link below) —

    “Hawaii is an attractive location for investment. Hawaii’s mid-Pacific location provides residing companies with a presence in Asia- Pacific markets at a lower cost than major Asian capitals, while offering political stability, legal protection, and U.S. rights and freedoms.”

  11. Paid2Talk January 9, 2018 9:39 pm Reply

    It is a shame all of the cost and time devoted in this case. When it is simply some folks trespassing on someone else’s property and it has to goto court for the property owner to have a leg to stand on? 9th Circuit court is nauseating. Green and Waters have certified ownership to the property surrounding CocoPalms. Espirito and Hepa are claiming royalty when there is several breaks in the genealogy with adoptions and living heirs above them. Why does it have to come to this? Naser is getting anywhere from 150 to 200 an hour along with his co-council. The interpreter is getting anywhere from $50 up an hour. what a waste. Espirito hasn’t had a job in 4-5 years…and turned down CocoPalms employment to “preserve” the land? This case is a circus and embarrassing to us try Kanakas that work for a living .

  12. Da Umiamaka Huntah January 10, 2018 6:51 am Reply

    Mahalo to the person or persons for providing the documents. Now the real owners who are Hawaiian and have a right to this land can step up and speak their peace.

    Sadly the umiamaka (deceivers) made it more difficult for ALL rightful Hawaiian owners to claim their lands. Hewa.

  13. Tex January 10, 2018 8:08 pm Reply

    MisterM and Paid2talk,
    Bingo! I couldn’t agree more. I attest to the FACT that the defendants were offered employment, which they promptly declined, and therefore also declined the included housing, in the new development to be built in Kapaa by Waters/Greene. Cool. I’ll take one of those brand new homes, instead!
    Plain and simple, this group has the entitlement mentality of the younger generation, and that’s why their living elders have not stepped forward. It’s called Respect, for the country in which we all reside.
    This is the year 2018. We, as a society, are not to be held responsible for the actions of our forefathers 125 years ago. Where have the families of these trespassers been this whole time? Not living on, and working the land. Not being self sustaining, and reliant on the land. This group only moved there in March of last year, when demolition began, in an attempt to disrupt progress. This whole case is a circus full of monkeys.
    I did some investigating today, and the videos that this group is putting out on Youtube are ridiculous, as well as their “Urgent ” plea that has been posted to select Kauai FB groups, for the community to provide them with GoPro cameras, so they can document the quality of the streams, and the soil around the Coco Palms tomorrow. Please stop putting the residents of Kauai, especially the elders who’ve been around since the founding of Coco Palms, through all of this nonsense. Stop asking the community for help, and delete your GoFundMe account, as it only proves the un-sustainability of the cause. Get a job, like the rest of us. Go buy your own cameras, like you have your cell phones, sunglasses, clothes, vehicles, etc. Oh, wait… these are all American and /or Chinese items! Hold on. Let’s ponder this for a moment….. People wanting to defend/reclaim their ancient culture have no use for such things. Grow up, and get gone! The rest of the Island of Kauai, including many native bruddas and sistas, await the much needed economy boost that this project brings. Hmmm… maybe a letter to the editor is in order….

  14. Paid2Talk January 11, 2018 9:30 pm Reply

    Espir-no-worko wants to kick out a reporter documenting facts and keep the Bethany chick he specifically called out as a jew? These guys are jobless jokes taking advantage of a broken 9th circuit liberal JOKE of a system. This would have never lasted this long on the mainland. I cannot believe the money that is being wasted in this case. Get jobs, organize a movement, let them re-build history. Yes I am LOCAL 100%

  15. Healani Akau December 29, 2019 7:05 pm Reply

    Okay you peeps. Time for me to step up.
    As a Decendant of Kapule, I for one can say I was practically raised up in Coco Plams in my younger days. My grandmother is Kapule’s great, great grand-daughter. I have my many great great grandmother portrait of Kapule husband portrait for those who wants to see it.(Kaiu) brother of Kamualii. I have no problem showing you that portraits, but understand that its not for sell. (Unless ou have 900,000,000.00 to buy it from me)
    That means its not forBu sell!

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