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DHHL’s Waimea project wins planning award

PO‘IPU — The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands’ Pu‘u ‘Opae Kuleana Homestead Settlement Plan was selected as the winner of the American Planning Association Hawai‘i Chapter’s Outstanding Planning Award at the Hawai‘i Congress of Planning Officials Conference awards session Thursday at the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort &Spa.

Crafted in partnership with G70, the Pu‘u ‘Opae Kuleana Homestead Settlement Plan provides a roadmap for future homesteading in Waimea.

“The entire project team who made this plan possible deserves this notable recognition,” said DHHL Deputy to the Chair Tyler Iokepa Gomes.

“The DHHL planning office with support by its consultant team of G70, Keala Pono Archaeological Consulting, Hui Ku Maoli Ola, Hawai‘i Wildfire Management Organization, Sustain Hawai‘i and Resource Mapping Hawai‘i were all instrumental in creating this plan which will ultimately result in Native Hawaiians settling on lands that have been in the Hawaiian Homes Lands trust since the beginning,” he said.

The Pu‘u ‘Opae Settlement Plan focuses on the development of a DHHL Kuleana Homestead community on the mauka Waimea lands of West Kaua‘i.

Planning for Pu‘u ‘Opae began with DHHL’s 2011 West Kaua‘i Regional Plan, which identified the Pu‘u ‘Opae area as a priority project and called for the development of an agricultural and water plan.

The lands of Pu‘u ‘Opae are an ideal location for Kuleana Homesteading Program given their physical characteristics that include suitable topography, drainage, accessibility, proximity to natural and cultural resources, management of wildfire risk and beneficiary preferences for subsistence agricultural lot size and configuration, according to a DHHL release.

DHHL’s Kuleana Homestead Program is intended to rehabilitate Native Hawaiians by providing opportunities for self-sufficiency and self-determination. As such, raw land is offered to beneficiaries to live on, grow food to sustain their family and utilize for community economic purposes.

The Pu‘u ‘Opae Kuleana Homestead Settlement Plan is an alternative and innovative approach to fulfill the vision of Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana‘ole, the DHHL said. This plan perpetuates the legacy of Kuhio’s civic service to today’s beneficiaries.

“In this context, kuleana is more than a right or responsibility, but rather an ancestral obligation being carried across generations,” said Kawika McKeague, AICP, principal at G70.

“The next steps of plan implementation will ensure the resiliency of future homesteaders to feed their families and make this special place their home. Accordingly, this award by the APA Hawai‘i Chapter is a significant milestone that lends merit in recognizing community perseverance towards Maoli governance and self-determination,” said McKeague.

G70 and DHHL published the final environmental assessment with a finding of no significant impact for the Pu‘u ‘Opae homestead settlement in Aug. 2020.

For more information about the Pu‘u ‘Opae Settlement Plan, visit dhhl.hawaii.gov/po/kauai.
Source: The Garden Island

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