Preserving the 'Āina Kūpuna
A reflection and call to action from Scott Landis, Interim Pastor of Keawala'i Congregational Church UCC, in Makena, Maui (originally published in the Coconut Wireless, October 20, 2021):
We hear the sound of the jackhammers and bulldozers every day. The dust in the air dries our throats, reminding us continually of the encroachment that is happening to this beautiful, sacred place we call Mākena. The word literally means "abundance." It is a land rich and abundant with history, family pride, and a sense of belonging. But for the 'ohana here who have cared for their land for nearly 140 years – specifically the Kukahiko family – the gift is slipping away. No longer able to afford the property taxes due to rapid escalation in property values as nearby land is eaten up by wealthy residents erecting gigantic homes, we are seeing what makes Hawai'i unique (and Maui invaluable) quickly disappear. My heart breaks as I hear the cries of the descendants of these original residents no longer able to afford their homes. We cannot sit by and allow this injustice to take place.
I ask you to do two things: First, pray for our land, and this 'ohana who have been faithful stewards of the land and now need our help in maintaining ownership and preserving our Hawaiian heritage.
Second, please contact the Council members responsible as decisions are made on both back and future property taxes for this land.
From the beginning of creation, we have been challenged to live as faithful stewards of the earth. Here is your opportunity to preserve a sacred trust for this generation and beyond.
from Keiki (Chang) Kawaiʻaeʻa
In order for the ʻāina kūpuna bill to be fully approved, the bill will have to pass the first reading on November 5. Provided it passes, Councilmember Keani Rawlins-Fernandez (the bill's sponsor) will work to get the bill scheduled quickly for the second reading. The bill is time-sensitive as applicants will need to apply before the end of December to qualify for next year's property tax. If the bill goes to second reading, it will be helpful to have additional written letters of testimony - short letters of support to keep the importance of the bill on the County Council radar as they have many issues before them.
TO DO by November 4
Send email to: email@example.com
Subject line: ʻĀina Kūpuna Bill, CR 21-95
Include in message the following:
For Meeting: County Council, 11/05/2021, 9am
[YOUR TESTIMONY HERE] "I support ʻĀina Kūpuna Bill, CR 21-95." (This simple statement is enough!)
You may also email Maui County councilmembers ahead of the November 5th meeting to ask them for their support on ʻĀina Kūpuna Bill, CR 21-95:
Alice.Lee@mauicounty.us, Council Chair
Keani.Rawlins@mauicounty.us, Council Vice-Chair
Tasha.Kama@mauicounty.us, Presiding Officer Pro Tempore