BY J. ARTHUR RATH III –Hawaii’s state motto “The life of the land is perpetuated in
righteousness” is attributed to King Kamehameha III. He used it
in 1840 when introducing the first Hawaiian Constitution. The
“righteous” destiny of land back then was generally farming.
Agriculture is seemingly being born again in Hawaii …Maybe
productive fields have aesthetic and productive human values?
As growers of food we also strive
To keep Hawaiian lands’ life alive.
Not everyone feels that way. Building a “strong bottom line” is
a righteous mania in today’s enlightened age cloaked under the
dictum of “obtaining maximum return on investments.” Fortunes are
made in Hawaii by converting farmland to real estate development.
What are the old farmers going to do after being told to pay 25
times more for the land they lease? The justification for this
jump is that their land rent hasn’t been raised since 1973!
Have the prices of products they grow risen more than 25% and are
they producing more? Ergo, an increase would seem quid pro quo.
Or are they too old and under capitalized to increase
productivity from the land they lease?
Keeping “land alive” and
“righteousness,” was what a Kamehameha king had to say. The way
the drama of old farmers in Kamilonui Valley, Hawai’i Kai plays
out will exemplify current dictum about doing “the right thing”
with what were once royal lands. The outcome will reflect a
twenty-first century view of righteousness.
J. Arthur Rath III is a Hawaii-based author, reach him at