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Sovereignty group back at palace – minus locks

May 2, 2008

A Hawaiian sovereignty group yesterday spent a second day peacefully occupying the mauka lawn of ‘Iolani Palace, claiming once again to be the legitimate government of Hawai’i. But unlike most of the first day, non-Hawaiians were not blocked from entering the property by the group identifying itself as the Hawaiian Kingdom Government. The palace and Hawai’i State Archives, both shut down to business on Wednesday, were open to the public yesterday.

Group members, who began disbanding about 4 p.m., said they would be back again today and every day for the foreseeable future.

Leader Mahealani Kahau and other officials of the Hawaiian Kingdom Government would not speak to media, saying they were inaccurately and unfairly portrayed regarding their actions yesterday.

The group’s actions are not a protest or demonstration but a reoccupying of its legitimate seat of government, security officers who would not give their names told The Advertiser.

The unidentified members also denied putting up locks at any of the palace gates on Wednesday, insisting that while they closed gates, the only locks that were up were placed by state personnel.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Land and Natural Resources, which oversees the palace grounds, disputed that claim, stating that the only state-owned lock that was on throughout the day was a permanent one at one of the mauka gates.

Group members spent much of their day sitting and chatting on the lawn. At noon, the group put out a buffet table and ate lunch.

Tourists, meanwhile, strolled the short distance from the ‘Iolani Barracks to the palace for tours, many of them oblivious to the occupation nearby. About a half-dozen Japanese tourists rode around the historic palace on Segways, took a brief look around, and left.

Nate and Sarah Jeffs, first-time Hawai’i visitors from Salt Lake City, were among those unaware of the action being taken by the Hawaiian Kingdom Government.

“I’m sure if they feel their case is legitimate, it’s good for them to try and be heard,” Nate Jeffs said. “Maybe blocking off access isn’t the right venue to go about that.”

Jim and Ann Aitken of ‘ina Haina were at the palace accompanying relatives who are visiting from the Mainland.

Jim Aitken said he thinks Hawaiians should be channeling their energies toward helping others such as the homeless along the Wai’anae Coast, many of whom are Hawaiian. “Rather than taking this place away from everybody,” Aitken said. “This belongs to everyone now.”

Marialena Kalamau, of Kapolei, who identified herself as a member of the Hawaiian Kingdom Government, said much of the public has misinterpreted the situation.

“If you know the culture, how Lili’uokalani was overthrown, then you would understand the urgency of the Hawaiian people,” Kalamau said. Her mother, Dixie Kalamau of Nanakuli, also an organization member, said the purpose of the group is to “get back what is rightfully ours. We’re going to start here and we’re going to work our way whatevers.”

She added: “The white man came and made us think the government was overthrown – it was not.”

Reach Gordon Y.K. Pang at gpang@honoluluadavertiser .com

May 2, 2008
Section: Hawaii
Page: 1B

Sovereignty group back at palace – minus locks
Gordon Y.K. Pang
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