Entering old archives building apparently violated permit terms.
original story. The head of a Hawaiian sovereignty group occupying the ‘Iolani Palace grounds was escorted off the property yesterday and told not to return this week after apparently violating the terms of her permit.
No one was arrested and no other members of the group were asked to leave.
Mahealani Kahau, identified as the “head of state” for the Hawaiian Kingdom Government, said she was told to leave the palace grounds or face arrest about 2 p.m. after earlier in the day going into the Kana’ina Building and asking for a letter. The white, federal-style building is between the palace and Hawai’i State Library and is also known as the old state archives building.
Kahau said the letter was from a Maui supporter who mistakenly sent it to the Kana’ina Building. Kahau was told by the staff in the building, where the offices of the Friends of ‘Iolani Palace are located, that the letter had been returned to its sender.
Speaking several hours after she and others in her group entered the building, Kahau said that as many 50 state enforcement officers converged on the palace grounds and told her that if she didn’t leave she would be arrested. She was told that going into the Kana’ina Building violated her permit terms.
“It’s shameful for them to make a small little thing so big,” Kahau said, adding she did not know the permit precluded her going into the building. “It’s public.”
Kahau said she was told to not return to the grounds until after tomorrow, when the current permit expires and a new one is issued. She said since no one else was told to leave, the other members of her group will be on the palace grounds today.
The group is in its third week of occupying the palace grounds. The land where the Kana’ina Building and palace are located is overseen by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which has posted several officers near the palace since the Hawaiian group blocked the entrances to the grounds earlier this month.
DLNR Director Laura H. Thielen declined comment yesterday on the commotion, saying a news release on the incident and whether it affects the permit for the group would be issued today at the earliest.
“We’re assessing the situation,” Thielen said.
Kippen de Alba Chu, executive director of the Friends of ‘Iolani Palace, said his staff told him about Kahau and some other members of her group asking for the letter.
Chu was not involved in the incident.
He said he later saw Kahau with three or four of her security people at Likelike Mall, the lane between the Hawai’i State Library and the palace grounds, with state DLNR law enforcement officers speaking to her from within the palace gates.
“According to their permit, they’re not supposed to enter Kana’ina Building,” Chu said. “And so that triggered the trespass warning, and so that’s when DLNR acted.”
Chu said it’s difficult to assess what kind of impact the presence of the group has had on attendance at the palace although he noted some potential visitors have called asking if it is open during the group’s presence on the grounds.
On April 30, the group blocked access to the palace grounds for about eight hours, shutting down the state archives building as well as the palace tour operations. Chu said some of his volunteer docents chose to stay away the remainder of the week because they felt uncomfortable by the presence of the group. But those volunteers returned last week, he said.
Kahau’s group is one of several organizations which claim to be the rightful Hawaiian government and do not recognize the authority of the Hawai’i state or U.S. government rule.
Those other organizations have had a mixed view to the action taken by Kahau’s group.
Dennis Pu’uhonua “Bumpy” Kanahele, head of the Independent and Sovereign National State of Hawai’i (Nation of Hawai’i), said he does not recognize the Hawaiian Kingdom Government as the official authority of Hawai’i, but said he supports their action.
“I do support their intent, which is to go there to claim the kingdom,” Kanahele said. He confirmed that he personally phoned Hawaiian Kingdom Government staff to express his support.
Henry Noa, prime minister of the Reinstated Government of Hawai’i, said he did not phone in his support of the Hawaiian Kingdom Government’s actions as Kahau had stated.
Nonetheless, Noa said, the palace grounds occupation has focused attention on the sovereignty movement and given each of the groups a chance “to present information to our people so that they can be better informed about the differences.”
David Keanu Sai, acting minister of the interior for a group known as Acting Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom, said on the organization’s Web site that many have incorrectly associated his group with Kahau’s.
While the Acting Government is provisional and exists until a true Hawaiian government can be reconstituted, the Hawaiian Kingdom Government “organized themselves without any basis in Hawaiian constitutional law,” Sai wrote.
Sai’s group has been attempting to regain control of Hawai’i through international law.
Leaders of Hui Pu, an umbrella group of different Hawaiian independence organizations, visited the palace grounds on the first day of the Hawaiian Kingdom Government’s action and said they support its intent.
Advertiser staff writer Gordon Y.K. Pang contributed to this report.
Reach Mary Vorsino at firstname.lastname@example.org.