WAILUA — An effort by developers to remove the remains of property belonging to recent occupiers of Coco Palms turned into a brief confrontation Friday morning.
Chad Waters of Coco Palms Hui LLC said they started to clean up the part of the property which was occupied by people claiming ownership through their ancestry before they were ordered off it by a judge.
“So far, we have removed two, 20-yard containers of rubbish with a few more to go,” he said. “A few of the previous occupants showed up to harass the crew that was working today (Friday). Otherwise the cleanup is going well and we should complete it in the next day or two.”
Throughout the morning, several supporters of the occupiers came and went at the property, including Mahealani Hanie-Grace, who was the only person arrested and charged with criminal trespassing during the enforcement of the ejectment ruling Feb 22.
Standing on a rock just outside the property, Hanie-Grace confronted those she said were destroying her family’s hale, their crops and other structures left by occupiers who lived there more than a year.
“That’s all illegal action, busting up our hale, all desecration, nothing, nothing wrong, your lo’i, plant kalo, what we doing?” she yelled. “Nothing. What Chad Waters doing? Hewa oi. Hewa oi. Hewa loa oi Chad Waters.”
Another supporter, Alan Kekoa Hoffman, was threatened with arrest when he refused to leave.
“If he wants to get arrested he can be here or he can be out there,” Waters said during a confrontation with Hoffman.
“You know what is pono, you know what is right, you have to do what is pono,” Hoffman told the workers. “I love all of you guys. I love all of you.”
The confrontation continued into mid-morning until two Kauai Police Department officers and one of the claimants of the land, Noa Mau-Espirito, arrived.
“I wouldn’t attack him,” Hoffman said. “I love him, but what you guys doing is hewa.”
Mau-Espirito told his supporters to be respectful of the uncles who were tasked with cleaning up the property.
“Really, the one who’s responsible for this is Tyler Greene (and) Chad. Let’s not forget who the main corporate enemy is, the County of Kauai, the State of Hawaii, Coco Palms Hui LLC, Tyler Greene and Chad Waters. Not uncle guys over here. I call them my own, you guys.”
Turning to those working on the cleanup, Mau-Espirito said he understood they had to feed their families. His beef isn’t with them, but with the system.
“Just understand the laws go both ways but for some reason they only recognize the laws for the haole, not us,” Mau-Espirito said.
“Right now we’re in a dog-eat-dog world. These people need to feed their families. I understand. Let’s not waste our energy on people who are not the problem,” Mau-Espirito said.
After the situation calmed down, the protesters and uncles shook hands and apologized to one another.
In a statement to TGI, Mau-Espirito said his group will be nice and let the Hawaiian families cleaning up the property do their jobs, before they move back in.
Coco Palms Hui has plans to restore the Coco Palms Resort, which was damaged by Hurricane Iniki in 1992 and has since sat shuttered. Their project calls for a $175 million, 350-room resort.
Kamu “Charles” Hepa, who claims the land through family lineage, said the frustration he’s feeling is deeper than what’s happening at Coco Palms. It’s about what he called the robbing of an ancient culture and it’s not just happening on Kauai, it’s happening throughout the islands and across the nation.
“Right now the people of Hawaii, the native indigenous people and the Hawaiians by heart are very upset, they’re very mad. It’s way too long over 128 years of illegal slavery and discrimination,” Hepa said.
The Hawaiian people, he said, are holding on by a thin line on aloha.
“It’s a company bought name now,” he said.
Within the Kanaka Maoli and indigenous communities, Hepa said there’s solidarity.
“It’s with the indigenous people the native people and the Hawaiians by heart. We’re all on the same crew and we’re all upset about everything. This is pressure being built up over 130 years and right now the people, like I said have had enough,” he said.
His greatest fear, he said, is a civil war, which is something he said he doesn’t want to happen, but he doesn’t see any other solution.
“Right now it’s to the breaking point of a civil war and Hawaii can see it,” Hepa said. “It’s building. This is building up big time and we’re at the peak, that fine line, that thread line of it,” he said, “and it’s sad, but it’s going to happen.”