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Overall Comments

Purpose of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act

The draft report */ does not discuss the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA) itself. It does not identify areas of the Act for revision and improvement. Created by the U.S. Congress in 1921, implemented by the Territory of Hawaii under U.S. government jurisdiction for 38 years, implemented by the State of Hawaii for 22 years under a compact with the U.S. Government, the HHCA has remained essentially unchanged during this entire period.

The intent and purpose of the HHCA is not clear. The concept of native Hawaiian "rehabilitation" is vague. A contemporary mix of statutory powers and functions is lacking. As a consequence, it is difficult to evaluate the performance and results of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL). The HHCA focuses on the land base rather than the changing needs of native Hawaiians and methods to address these needs.

Statutory Provisions

A Congressional Committee Report at the time of the HHCA's passage lists these principle objectives:

  • The Hawaiian must be placed on the land to insure his rehabilitation;
  • Alienation of the land must be made impossible;
  • Accessible water in adequate amounts must be provided for all tracts; and
  • The Hawaiian must be financially aided until his farming operations are well under way.

Experience has demonstrated that land is not the panacea for native Hawaiian advancement. Comprehensive and balanced programs are required to assure success. The HHCA does not address the social, economic, and educational needs of the beneficiary group. Adequate and sustained funding is not provided.

The non-alienation clause makes it impossible for native Hawaiian homestead lessees to secure financing without DHHL's continuous support in the form of direct loans and loan guarantees. DHHL financing is, and will continue to be, limited unless new sources and methods are identified and made available. A significant share of the equity created by the lessee cannot be released until the lessee surrenders the lease or passes away. Further, the non-alienation clause and the inability to leverage other funds create a general disincentive for land improvement. Native Hawaiian homesteaders are unable to pass on leases and improvements to non-native Hawaiian direct heirs.

The HHCA exclusion of sugar cane lands, forest reserves, and the remote location of lands results in a land base isolated from population centers, often in dry areas with poor soil conditions. Cost of developing water sources and distribution systems is prohibitive. Funds for water planning, design, and construction are not readily available.

The provision of land, water, and financing for farmers is not adequate to ensure success. Technical assistance in farm production and business management is required. Remote DHHL farming areas face transportation and marketing problems

*/ All references in this appendix to the "draft report" refer to the Inspector General's draft report, and not to the Draft Report of the Native Hawaiians Study Commission.


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