WAILUA — Near the Coco Palms resort concrete ruins that line the north side of Kuhio Highway, on 14 acres of state land, a house overflows with trash, and derelict vehicles sit outside.
There are also signs posted at the entrance into the ruins of Coco Palms that say “No Trespassing: Violators will be prosecuted.”
But according to one of the current occupiers of the land, Noa Mau-Espirito, he and two other men, Charles Hepa and Liko-O-Kalani, never left the land they claim they have the legitimate rights to through royal patent and ancestry.
Mau-Espirito said there may be anywhere from 20 to 30 people living on the land, and that the group of the three men is not connected to them.
“There’s a lot of people over here now that’s not with us,” Mau-Espirito said. “There is actually, I would say, a meth and heroin problem.”
Mau-Espirito said he has made multiple complaints with the Kauai Police Department.
The County of Kauai says it will continue to respond to any calls or complaints.
“If a trespass complaint is made by the owner, KPD will respond accordingly,” the county said in an email. “This is not a new protocol. During the months of May and June, KPD has responded to six complaints reported at the Coco Palms location. None of the calls were for trespassing.”
Last Friday, Stillwater Equity Partners announced the property is under contract but stopped short of naming the purchaser until the deal is finalized. Director of Real Estate for Stillwater, Paul Bringhurst, said they are aware of the people living on the land.
“We are aware and handling it,” Bringhurst said. “A fence will be installed with ‘no trespassing’ signs, and then the police can charge them with trespassing. Fence will go up in the coming days.”
Mau-Espirito and Hepa took up residence on the land for more than a year and battled development of the property. In February 2018, law officers, per a court order, swept in and cleared the land of trespassers. There was one arrest.
Last July, a summary judgment hearing ended the year-long Coco Palms property dispute in a Kauai courtroom.
Circuit Court Chief Judge Randall Valenciano ruled in favor of development company Coco Palms Hui LLC, owned by Chad Waters and Tyler Greene, who later defaulted on a loan to restore the former Coco Palms resort that was damaged by Hurricane Iniki in 1992 and has sat there since, a shell of its former glory.
At one time, they had plans for a $175 million project that included 350 rooms, 12,000 square feet of retail space and a four-acre cultural center.
Mau-Espirito says he is the executive branch public official for the Kingdom of Hawaii Islands under King Kamehameha III 1852 Amended Constitution.
“I feel it would be good to have transparency with the public on our cases with this property,” Mau-Espirito said.
Mau-Espirito said he and his two colleagues have three court cases in the state Intermediate Court of Appeals. One of the appeals was filed by Mau-Espirito on Jan. 14, 2019, claiming that “Our rights, titles, and privileges under Article 6 Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, 18 USC 956, 957, 1091, 2441 have been violated, deprived, infringed and trespassed upon by the State of Hawaii Judge Randal G.B. Valenciano ruling in favor of Coco Palms Hui LLC in case 18-1-0010 granting default judgment against me and summary judgment in favor of appellee Coco Palms Hui LLC.”
“I’m still here on the property, too,” Mau-Espirito said. “I’m not in the exact location I was a year ago, but I’m still on the property.”
Ryan Collins, county reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.