Police remove Coco Palms occupiers

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Noa Mau-Espirito and Kamuela Hepa, right, watch as sheriffs clear the way for a van transporting a woman arrested for criminal trespassing on the Coco Palms property in Wailua Thursday during the enforcement of an ejectment order against occupiers.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kimberly Souza decries the action of officials enforcing an ejectment order of occupants of the Coco Palms property Thursday morning in Wailua.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kamuela Hepa, left, films action on his cellphone and Noa Mau-Espirito, center, asks to speak to a person in charge about a letter from the state attorney general Thursday during the enforcement of an ejectment order mandating them to vacate the Coco Palms property in Wailua.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Noa Mau-Espirito decries what he claims is illegal action taken by officials enforcing an ejectment order against him and Charles Hepa Thursday at the Coco Palms property in Wailua.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kimberly Souza, left in red, is in anguish as she discards her drink near the ahu at the western entrance to the Coco Palms property where government officials carried out an ejectment order Thursday in Wailua.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Enforcement officials allow Chuck Hanie to load personal items into his van Thursday during enforcement of an ejectment order against occupiers of the Coco Palms property in Wailua.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kimberly Souza, claiming to have lived on the Coco Palms property for 13 months, returns to Kuamoo Road Thursday morning to find the road blocked as officials carried out the ejectment order for the Coco Palms property in Wailua.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Felicia Cowden rolls video as Noa Mau-Espirito encourages Kimberly Souza to return to her property, Thursday as she lies in the entrance to the Coco Palms property in protest of the enforcement of the ejectment order.

    Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Felicia Cowden rolls video as Noa Mau-Espirito encourages Kimberly Souza to return to her property, Thursday as she lies in the entrance to the Coco Palms property in protest of the enforcement of the ejectment order.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Enforcement officials work to clear the Coco Palms property during the enforcement of the ejectment order, Thursday.

    Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Enforcement officials work to clear the Coco Palms property during the enforcement of the ejectment order, Thursday.

WAILUA — One person was arrested Thursday morning in Wailua, where the famed Coco Palms Resort once stood, as last month’s court-ordered ejectment was enforced.

In a joint task force, members of the State Sheriff’s Division, Kauai Police Department, the law enforcement division of the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Attorney General’s Office enforced the order.

Chuck Hanie, who has been living on the land for over a year, said only two people were present on the property when dozens of law enforcement officers showed up, temporarily closing Kuamoo Road. There had been upwards of 75 people on the property at certain periods of the occupation.

In a statement, Hanie’s wife Jessica said they plan to return to the land.

“All we’re trying to do is be sustainable and feed our people,” she said, stating about 80 percent of the homeless on Kauai are locals or of Kanaka Maoli descent.

The Hanies’ daughter, Mahealani Hanie-Grace, 23, was the only person arrested during the enforcement. She was later released without bail.

“I don’t really have anywhere else to go to,” Mahealani Hanie-Grace said. “The guys helped me out when I didn’t have anything. That’s why I’m here.”

Throughout the morning about 50 people came and went in support of the activists.

In a statement to TGI, developer Chad Waters said construction on the resort is scheduled to resume within the next four to five months.

“We are planning on fencing off the property in order to keep trespassers off during construction,” he said. “We’ll be calling KPD if any trespassers show up.”

The defendants claim they are the rightful heirs and owners of the property through ancestry and a royal patent, while Coco Palms Hui, a development company owned by Waters and Tyler Greene, claim ownership through a special warranty deed they purchased in 2016 for $23 million, from Prudential Insurance.

A 350-room, $175 million resort is planned for the property.

The ejectment happened the day before Coco Palms was scheduled to be in court for a motions hearing to strike a document filed by defendants in a civil case between Kanaka Maoli Activists Noa Mau-Espirito, Kamu “Charles” Hepa and Coco Palms Hui.

Filed late last month the document, dated and stamped by The Hawaiian Judiciary Court of the Sovereign, is entitled a “default judgment and notice of entry of default judgment,” and charges District Court Judge Michael Soong on several counts, calling for his arrest.

“What we are doing is going for fishing, for food, for eat,” said Mau-Espirito, who urged his fellow activists to have no hard feelings against the law enforcement officers who were there to enforce the order.

“They’re our family,” said Mau-Espirito, who shook hands with and hugged officers. “They are just following orders.”

“Everything is going as planned, Mau-Espirito said. “I expected my adversaries to pull a squirrelly move like this.”

There are two quotes, Mau-Espirito said, that summarize how he felt about what happened.

“First of all, victory goes to who is worthy of it,” he said. Secondly, he said, “It’s not the most expensive sword that wins the battle, but the strongest spirit, so we shall see who has the strongest spirit.”

Thursday’s enforcement of the court order, said Hepa, has made him stronger.

“It burns my fire. I’m not done, we’re not done,” he said.

At the end of the day, he said, this is just the beginning.

“I’ll laugh when I see these guys getting federally indicted of war crimes and pillaging and like today, (speaking of the arrest), kidnapping,” he said. “Arresting someone and releasing them with no bail.”

They’re throwing this in front of them, he said, because of Friday’s scheduled hearing.

“So now, the people will have a voice in this matter,” Hepa said. “Their voices will be heard worldwide.”

For members of the Lahue Kanaka Maoli Nation, the site in Wailua is sacred, with ties to the last queen of Kauai, Deborah Kapule and many ali’i.

“This is the Kingdom of Hawaii,” he added. “Not the United States. How can someone without Hawaiian descent claim title above the royal patent without the originals?”

Activist Ke‘ala Lopez said movements like these are happening because, “the Kanaka woke up and the kids grew up and we’re finally coming into the position to be able to do something.”

The group, she said, didn’t expect the enforcement to happen Thursday morning before a court hearing.

“It’s like waking up during a natural catastrophe and all of a sudden needing to make important decisions as soon as you open your eyes,” she said.

For almost two years, Vance Hunt said he has been living on the land and sees the ejectment as just another drill.

“It’s an inconvenience for the Kanaka, because we’re just trying to bring back the loi (ancient tarot patches),” he said. “Our dream is to have enough food to feed the community for free. This is a waste of time and money to pay bruddahs, (police), to stand here and do nothing. The ultimate goal is Kanaka living in peace with one another.”

In a statement to TGI, Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry said, “Our law enforcement officers are required to uphold the laws of the County of Kauai, and protect and serve its people without prejudice.”

Consistent with the court order, Perry said, KPD was asked by the State’s Sheriff Division to assist in the enforcement.

“Our primary mission for today was to ensure the safety of all parties involved, which we will continue to do in all matters that we respond to,” Perry said.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said he empathizes with the Hawaiian community in this emotional dispute.

“As mayor, I understand the cultural and spiritual significance of this property. But above all emotions, I understand we must all follow and respect the law,” he said, stating the court’s recent decision is very clear.

“I continue to encourage all involved to move forward in a peaceful and respectful manner,” Carvalho said.

Acting State First Deputy Sheriff Robin Nagamine, the on-site operation commander, said the joint effort to enforce this judicial order required major collaboration between law enforcement agencies, the Attorney General’s Office and the property owner, along with private security officers.

As for the ejectment, Waters said Coco Palms Hui had to pay for some of the costs incurred, but declined to give an exact figure. The continued litigation in this matter, he said, has cost the company a lot of money.

Waters said he and Greene didn’t expect this to happen when they purchased the property with the intention of restoring the famed resort that was shuttered and lay in waste after Hurricane Iniki in 1992. It is where Elvis Presley was married in a scene from the movie “Blue Hawaii.”

As for Mahealani Hanie-Grace, who is facing criminal trespassing charges, she said Mau-Espirito and Hepa helped her when she didn’t have anything and was living in her truck.

“I owe Noa everything,” she said.

  1. harry oyama February 23, 2018 3:02 am Reply

    Hawaiians should invoke their natural connections to the spiritual realms of praying to their ancestor Kahuna nui to curse all those who persecute them. It is a known fact that Hawaiian night marchers do frequent the Wailua ridgeline next to the Indian Temple. Have them be directed towards Coco Palms and let the real enforcement begin.

  2. billyjoebob February 23, 2018 3:28 am Reply

    Looks like some of these occupiers are not really part of the ownership dispute and just squatters. Come on, drink and cigarette in hand, a
    ” real steward ” of the Aina.
    Now would be a good time for the County/State to just rent/buy the Cost-U-Less building and make it Homeless Central. Put a fence around it, hose it out once a week. Cots, community kitchen, put in stall showers.

  3. Larry February 23, 2018 4:22 am Reply

    Make it so ridiculous expensive for the Hyatt and they will pull out. They want it make them pay and break their bank. Strength in numbers.

  4. CJ February 23, 2018 4:40 am Reply

    Whats with the third arm in the photo of the woman drinking?

    Photoshop much?

    1. Steven McMacken February 23, 2018 11:51 am Reply

      Most likely someone walking directly behind her.

    2. paid2talk February 23, 2018 10:54 pm Reply

      That chick has even been evicted from her own real family land. She’s coo-coo for coconuts

  5. harv February 23, 2018 6:42 am Reply

    Another Parcheesi editorial in the guise of ‘objective journalism’.

  6. harv February 23, 2018 7:40 am Reply

    “Tarot” patch?? Is that where you get your Coco Palm read?

  7. Shannon February 23, 2018 8:43 am Reply

    This is 2018 and everyone on this earth came from somewhere. Would anyone like someone to come and squat on your property and say it’s theirs? After you have paid and lived there? Because that is exactly what these “descendants” are saying and doing. Literally they can go up to any place they want and claim it’s their land. Now you can look forward to years of huge costs in legal bills before you have your house back. This battle has put every landowner in jeopardy with the way the courts haven’t stopped it long ago. Hey everyone, I want that restaurant there, I want that house there, oh and that beach there, and I want it free too, now you go out and get a lawyer and let’s see how much you can afford to try and keep it.

  8. Tom Campbell February 23, 2018 9:17 am Reply

    This story reminds of the battle between David and Goliath. There are many things in this world that can be bought and sold but the soul of a people, their collective memory, their culture, these things cannot. The investors bought the land in good faith but it seems to me with no soul for what the land stands for. To the investors the parcel is just property to be exploited for their own personal gain but for those who have roots going back many generations the land contains the blood, sweat, and even bones of their families and their people. The land takes on the spirit of the people who tilled the soul, built their dwellings, lived, made love, bore children, and laid to rest their dead. To those who live in harmony with nature, who respect and cherish the land, the land becomes priceless, it becomes a part of them. I am not surprised that the investors do not seem to see this, just very much saddened. Personally I am hoping that once again we see the “David” of this story triumph.

    1. Jake February 23, 2018 6:27 pm Reply

      Well, then I guess you can welcome them on to your land, and have them do whatever they want to do. Please invite them to live on your property, collect welfare, SNAP cards, and smoke pot all day.

  9. Bluedream February 23, 2018 11:56 am Reply

    This isn’t even newsworthy. Why is anybody giving these idiots any attention. Don’t try to make news out of a bunch of bums who couldn’t have cared less about the property until a year ago. Sounds like that if it was their land, they never claimed it until 140 yeas later. So even if it was their land, they lost it due to adverse possession. And I don’t think the squatters have any more soul than the hapless Californian developers, or Felicia Cowden’s IPhone for that matter…Nobody is better than anyone else or has more “soul”. What an utterly stupid comment.

    1. D Woods February 23, 2018 2:58 pm Reply

      I agree this whole act is not even newsworthy…where were these bums for the last 24 years since the hurricane! Or why aren’t they protesting the bazzillions of tourists that are crawling all over our island overloading all our resources….they are are a joke!
      But we should be very proud of our Police Chief and crew for getting the job done.

  10. Joe Public February 23, 2018 12:28 pm Reply

    These “descendants” occupying land that legally belongs to someone else, is criminal, plain and simple! If any of these two came onto your property or those of YOUR family and tried this, do you think it would have taken this long to get them out?

  11. Knowitall February 23, 2018 12:36 pm Reply

    Perhaps we should view this issue not as a land grab but a cry for help from the Native Hawaiians. The state needs to allocate more money and resources to Hawaiian Homes. Native Hawaiians (through Hawaiian Homes) own an enormous amount of property to little or no benefit to the vast majority of the Native population.
    The state coffers are full of money generated by tourism. This tourism is sustained by the Hawaiian Culture the visitors come to see.
    Anahola and other Hawaiian Homeland areas need more housing, free recreational centers, free tutoring, free child care for working class Native Hawaiian families.
    If the state will not provide more resources Native Hawaiians must consider opening Casinos to generate this much needed revenue.

    1. Jake February 23, 2018 6:41 pm Reply

      The “Hawaiian culture” is for the tourists. The grass huts, the music, the skirts, the shirts, the torches, etc. You really need to define “Native Hawaiians”. Right now it is recognized as 50% blood quantum. But hey, it’s 2018, and you can identify as anything. So, if you are < 1%, then sure, you can claim Native Hawaiian. BTW, it is racial bias to promote "free" things to any one race, and not others. Equal opportunity does not equal outcome. There are internal cultural reasons for the shortfalls of Native Hawaiians. Stop the madness !

  12. HaloHalo February 23, 2018 12:50 pm Reply

    Suggestion, put down the beer, brush your hair, and get a JOB.

  13. WestKauai February 23, 2018 6:13 pm Reply

    Just what are these occupiers actually doing to restore the loi or otherwise sustainably feed their people? Are they working productively in any capacity at all, or simply taking advantage of Federal and State programs? One commenter says that more free resources should be provided to them. To what end? I think it would encourage them to become even more dependent upon taxpayer-funded programs without making an effort to be self-supportive…

  14. Larry February 23, 2018 7:41 pm Reply

    Squatting isn’t cool and neither was the fast ferry……and we all know how that fared for them……that place needs to be bulldozed and left back to nature…….cork off that underengineered sewer system too

  15. Manawai February 23, 2018 9:07 pm Reply

    The truth of it is that no one should feel sorry or patronize these actors because they make up false genealogies and eliminate historical facts which would otherwise disprove their claims. They just hope that the courts will be dumb enough to accept their falsehoods. But our compassionate judges give these people their “day in court” at the expense of true and honest landowners just so that the judges won’t be accused (which they are anyway) of not giving these people a voice in court regardless of how frivolous their claims are. These perpetrators who cry “genocide” and “war crimes” know they don’t have valid claims and are simply trying to fight their sovereignty issues in the wrong places at the expense of innocents knowing that they’re cost all of us more money. What’s almost worse are the ignorant patronizers like Felicia Alongi Cowden who egg these fakes on and do a great disservice to truth and honesty. Fight your sovereignty issues in the right place and leave decent people alone. You already know you won’t prevail with your illegitimate claims. You shame everything you say you stand for.

  16. paid2talk February 23, 2018 10:32 pm Reply

    Noa says in court he wasn’t notified: LIE
    He was served by Sheriffs
    Noa says in court he was harassed: LIE
    He was removed for trespassing after given 6+ weeks to get out
    Noa and Hepa claim Royal Patent by in blood line: LIE
    Its been proven neither one of these idiots are related to someone who didn’t have a child only a hanai child. Do your research before you claim your “Royal Patent”
    If I were Green and Waters, I’d bring in the bulldozer and mow over all their rubbish, pile it up and have the best bonfire EVER in the history of Wailua. What a joke and waste of time granted to some useless lazy homeless FAKE, pretend grave making Hawaiian Sovereign activist. Grow up already.
    Kauai is tired of your embarrassment. Get a JOB like the rest of us. LOSERS

  17. durka durka February 24, 2018 2:12 pm Reply

    “sustainable” cigarettes

  18. Nicolai Barca February 25, 2018 1:43 pm Reply

    If you look on TMK maps, the coconut groves are actually public property (crown lands) and the pond and hotel, as well as a parcel more mauka is owned by the coco palms hui. Idk, perhaps there is some sort of lease going on…

    The coco palms land is no longer in the name of the former alii owner, Deborah Kapule, probably sold and in doing so, it is my understanding that she would have forfitted all rights of her decendents to the property.

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