BY MICHELE VAN HESSEN – Representative Gene Ward (R-Hawaii Kai – Kalama Valley) said today on behalf of the Hawaii Kai community that he is keenly interested in keeping the Kamilonui Valley farmers on their agriculture lots leased from Bishop Estate – Kamehameha Schools and the Estate has not negotiated in good faith. He is calling upon the community to support the farmers.
The farmers’ leases expired and the farmers went to great length and expense to hire expert Agriculture Economist, Professor Chaudrey Shehata (UH-Hilo Campus), only to be told by the Estate’s lawyers that such a study is irrelevant and refused to meet with the farmers and the professor. This is the same “income based” rather than “commercial land value based” study that Dr. Shehata performed for 220 Kona coffee farmers just over a year ago to negotiate their new lease rents with the Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate. The Estate accepted Dr. Shehata’s Kona coffee study. but won’t accept the study related to Hawaii Kai farmers.
“I find it rather unconscionable that the one of the biggest trusts in the world will not sit down and hear out a small group of farmers who have been on the land for the past 35 years. All Judy Nii and her farmers want to do is present Dr. Shehata’s study and ask for fair lease renegotiations like the coffee farmers did,” Ward says.
Fearing that the Estate will remain obstinate and not meet with her and the farmers after so much time has passed since she has tried speaking to the estate weeks ago, Judy Nii has put out a call to the Hawaii Kai community to begin a sign waving protest campaign.
Residents of Hawaii Kai fear that if the farmers are forced off their land, a new sub-division will be built and the lifestyle and density levels of Hawaii Kai will spoil the entire community.
“My family and I will be joining the sign-wavers at Maunalua Bay until we see some justice,” Ward says.