THE SENATE

S.C.R. NO.

57

THIRTY-FIRST LEGISLATURE, 2021

S.D. 1

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

SENATE CONCURRENT

RESOLUTION

 

 

URGING THE COUNTIES TO EXPAND PROPERTY TAX RELIEF FOR LANDS PURCHASED PURSUANT TO THE KULEANA ACT.

 

 


WHEREAS, ohana who hold title to lands purchased under the Kuleana Act have been negatively affected by the ever-increasing property values in Hawaii; and

 

WHEREAS, lands purchased pursuant to the Kuleana Act, but not classified as kuleana land parcels, subject to increased property values have no relief from the correlating high property taxes; and

 

WHEREAS, the lack of property tax relief has resulted in lineal descendants losing title to their ancestral lands; and

 

WHEREAS, native Hawaiians have an inextricable familial relationship to āina (land) as the kumulipo (the Native Hawaiian cosmogony and creation chant) establishes that native Hawaiians descend from natural life forms; and

 

WHEREAS, this inextricable familial relationship to āina engenders a kuleana (duty) to care for it he alii ke āina, he kauwā ke kānaka (the land is a chief; man is its servant); and

 

WHEREAS, the traditional kuleana to care for the āina, strengthened over centuries, resulted in a deep-rooted bond between native Hawaiians and the āina they cared for; and

 

WHEREAS, prior to the arrival of foreigners to Hawaii, āina was customarily held in trust by the mōī (sovereign) for the benefit of all; and

 

WHEREAS, this custom was affirmed by Kamehameha III Kauikeaouli in the Constitution of 1840 under the Hawaiian Kingdom; and

 

WHEREAS, the Māhele (land division) the foundational process of what would become the private property system in Hawaii, provided mechanisms for ownership of land by Hawaiian Kingdom subjects and foreign citizens; and

 

WHEREAS, recognizing the need to secure title for makaāinana (commoners) to land for cultivation, the Legislature of the Hawaiian Kingdom enacted the Kuleana Act, the final step in the Māhele process; and

 

WHEREAS, Kamehameha III intended makaāinana to receive one-third of the total land of Hawaii through the Māhele process; and

 

WHEREAS, numerous reasons explain why the Kuleana Act only resulted in an estimated 28,000 acres of Kuleana Land, less than one percent of the total land of Hawaii, being claimed by makaāinana; and

 

WHEREAS, the Kuleana Act also allowed Hawaiian Kingdom subjects, including makaāinana, to purchase government lands (separate from kuleana land); and

 

WHEREAS, some ohana have maintained ownership of kuleana land for over a century; and

 

WHEREAS, many others have lost ownership of these lands due to external forces; and

 

WHEREAS, to provide some relief to ohana who still own kuleana land, the counties created a property tax exemption for ohana who can trace continuous lineal ownership of kuleana lands to the Kuleana Act; and

 

WHEREAS, during the Māhele, ohana also purchased land not classified as kuleana land through other mechanisms under the Kuleana Act; and

 

WHEREAS, ohana who purchased land pursuant to the Kuleana Act, but not classified as kuleana land, do not benefit from the property tax relief provided by the counties; and

 

WHEREAS, many ohana who purchased land pursuant to the Kuleana Act, but not classified as kuleana land, are being "priced out" as a result of skyrocketing property values that are causing property taxes to soar; and

 

WHEREAS, rising costs from real estate pressures have created a climate where ohana continue to lose lands that are their ancestral homes, farms, and burial places lands unique to Hawaii and its identity; and

 

WHEREAS, government cooperation is needed to prevent the loss of these cherished ancestral lands; now, therefore,

 

BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Thirty-first Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2021, the House of Representatives concurring, that the counties are urged to expand property tax protections to include all lands purchased by Hawaiian Kingdom subjects under the Kuleana Act and whose titleholders can trace lineal ownership of such lands to the Kuleana Act; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this body recognizes and appreciates the pilina (relationship) native Hawaiians maintain with āina and the unique value this pilina contributes to Hawaii's identity; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this body continues to support the continual retention of lands by lineal descendants of Hawaiian Kingdom subjects who claimed land under the Kuleana Act to protect the special relationship between kānaka (people) and āina; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the Governor; Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs; and mayors and councilmembers of the City and County of Honolulu, County of Hawaii, County of Kauai, and County of Maui.

Report Title:

Kuleana Property Tax Relief; Continuous Ownership