The inaugural Maui Homestead Summit brought together approximately 100 farmers and lawmakers, who together discussed issues relevant to Hawaiian homesteaders and their neighboring communities – including the possibility of a state agricultural strategic plan and a homestead agriculture and ranching roundtable with legislators.
The purpose of the daylong event, held Nov. 3 at He Piko No Waiohuli community center at Waiohuli Hawaiian Homestead, was to engage, inform, and empower Hawaiian beneficiaries of the 1921 Hawaiian Homes Commission Act federal trust and inform and educate the community at large about agriculture and ranching-related topics. Also key to the event was the discussion of mutual rights, benefits, and kuleana responsibilities under the HHCA.
The Upcountry nonprofit Pa‘upena Community Development Corp. hosted the summit, which featured a panel with Maui legislators Kyle Yamashita and Troy Hashimoto, Hawai‘i Farmers Union United President Vincent Mina, and Maui County Farm Bureau representatives Warren Watanabe and Mae Nakahata. In addition to discussing a state agriculture strategic plan, panelists explored the possibility of a homestead agriculture and ranching round table with legislators to be held before or during the 2019 legislative session.
Puanani Danner with the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations urged Maui to initiate its own bill for a state agricultural strategic plan; such proposed legislation “should come from Maui no ka ‘oi,” said the Anahola, Kaua‘i, homesteader.
“Hawaiians need to hear the important messages that were shared,” said attendee Robert Masters of 808 Building Supplies & Solutions. Masters called the summit “a wonderful event… so educational.” The free event offered giveaways of taro shoots to plant, medicinal teas, a kalo tasting, and an evening pa‘ina (party) with food and entertainment.
Also during the summit, legislator Hashimoto introduced the concept of a Heritage Farming Families initiative, similar to the State Historic Sites program. “I look forward to working and speaking with you again in the future,” said Hashimoto, a member of the multigenerational Hashimoto persimmon-growing family in Kula.
Pa‘upena CDC co-sponsored the Maui Homestead Summit with the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations. Pa‘upena CDC’s mission is to provide resources and training to empower fellow Hawaiian Homes trust beneficiaries to build homes and self-sufficient communities.
SCHHA is the oldest and largest coalition of homestead associations unified to protect and advocate for the interests of beneficiaries of the 1921 Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. For information, contact Kekoa Enomoto, at (808) 276-2713 or email [email protected]
Photo courtesy of Pa’upena CDC