It’s not the JAWS you know. As land tenancy remains to be a high topic of conversation in Hawai‘i, on O‘ili Road Maui, it has become a dangerous landscape. The resident tenants and the heirs are restoring the ahupua‘a (land from mountain to sea) of Kaupakalua. The adjoining property to the grown-famous street, O‘ili Road, used to be in pineapple production. The tenants and heirs of O‘ili Road have traditionally accessed the area for fishing, hunting and ‘ohana education and recreation.
Peahi’s “Jaws” surf break has made its mark on the world map but native tenants suffer from a sad compilation of corporate surfer elite and unfortunate athlete-driven misappropriation. The big wave event has attracted audience from every human sector. The event has also made destructive environmental footprints and has created increased barriers for resident tenants and heirs to live safely. The cultural exploitation has been buried in the undertow and the mass media of this one-of-a-kind surf spot has blinded many to the true currents of trouble.
The World Surf League (WSL) has relied on the distorted stronghold that Alexander & Baldwin (A&B) has wielded way past their land lease expiration date. They once had a 99 year lease specific to agricultural production but the land does not belong to them. The approach WSL has taken with corporate real estate company A&B has angered islanders to the core.
It’s hard to step back and see the overall affects of the landscape and the ‘aina (land), when you are using binoculars to zoom in on water matadors. When you consider a birds eye view of the coastline events in question, your eyes are blinded by the glare of corruption.
There are some key items that must be considered. A&B has interest in the lands surrounding Maui’s neighboring abundant Waikamoi watershed. A&B is trying to convince Maui County that Alexander & Baldwin owns the land and water. East Maui Landholdings LLC was served legal notice by native tenants in November of 2019 and the deadline to respond and to remove personal property was December 13, 2019.
The interests in the ahupua‘a of Kaupakalua are large and intense ones. The extent to which those who have interest in the place will go to is dramatic and very real. O‘ili Road tenants were prohibited access by Kanaka Solutions Security at Pe‘ahi Challenge 2019. A gun violence incident played out the same night. Interesting series of events show threads of connectivity and timelines reveal desperate attempts by A&B to silence and overpower the native tenants and heirs. Residents have been offered jobs and money by WSL representatives for things such as avoid event attendance and sell their land.
The WSL creates development opportunities using creative market curation serving niche lifestyle markets, out of benefit reach of Hawai‘i locals. The comprehensive product promotion based on resource extraction has become more blatant in recent years. Legal advocate for native tenants Napua Hueu impresses that, “The big wave industry will continue to spur uneducated and unrealistic enthusiasm for a cultural sacred site, from which threats continue to cause damages, injuries, fatalities, losses and suffering of such character and magnitude that it affects the economy, health, welfare and living conditions of a substantial number of Hawaiian subjects.”
New WSL Chief Executive Operator Eric Logan was also quoted saying, “…a comprehensive approach is long over due.” The organization has suffered several sad sets of unfairness, accountability and prejudice. Adding insult to injury, the Maui surfers who repeatedly benefit from cultural commodification support A&B by recording radio sound bites for the sugar barons turned real estate purveyors.
WSL continues to bully residents, continues the tax map key fraud by working with these imperialistic corporate thugs who collude with third party aggressors and overall perpetuate violence. The way in which they protect their event production has enkindled violence towards area protectors. The situation has grown and police reports, court dates and lawsuits clutter the calendar.
Some Hawai‘i investors understand community give-back but it is not so hard to see, the big wave industry has no ESG. They have no Environmental consideration, they have failed in Social Responsibility and have avoided Good Governance all together by co-conspiring with repeat water theft offenders of over 130 years, Alexander & Baldwin.
An excerpt from the legal complaint that was delivered to A&B and WSL reads, “The lack of honor for the Hawaiian Islands, our People, History and Culture have been excessively paraded at Peahi and we will no longer tolerate such belligerent antics in Hawaiian waters.” The unavoidable and unfortunate reality of Hawai‘i’s receptivity to WSL has afforded owners Dirk and Natasha Ziff to think twice about the corporate bull fighting that has Maui native tenants and heirs seeing red.
Lives have been endangered, places destroyed and theft of land, fresh water and now our ocean coastline are jeopardized. This place prejudice and people prejudice must end. As O‘ili Road, Peahi, Maui stewards continue to beautify and make bountiful others might perhaps consider what surf trunks they really want to buy next. It’s time to sponsor and support kanakas already.
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