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Approved Route Between Kona and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport Expected to Bring in More Than $50 Million to Hawaii Island Economy

Gov. David Ige is applauding the U.S. Department of Transportation’s approval of Hawaiian Airlines’ application to serve Kona from Haneda Airport in Tokyo.

Hawaiian Airlines

“This creates the opportunity for us to open up Kona as an international point of entry. This is a significant step toward making that happen,” said Mike McCartney, Gov. Ige’s chief of staff.

Hawaiian Airlines has been flying passengers on the Haneda-Honolulu route since 2010, providing 107,000 round-trip seats a year and generating $564 million in direct spending.

Gov. Ige, who is traveling on the mainland, submitted a letter of support of Hawaiian Airlines’ application for a second route, which said, in part:

“Providing direct service to Kona will open a new Haneda gateway to a market that has significant pent-up demand. Kona is the third largest U.S. airport without nonstop service to Tokyo. It has more point-of-sale Japanese passengers than eleven markets that currently enjoy nonstop service to Japan’s most populous city,” said Gov. Ige.

The U.S. DOT has given Hawaiian Airlines until Jan. 29, 2017 to start the new service.

Hawaii Files First Lawsuit Against Takata & Honda Relating to Faulty Airbags

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affair’s Office of Consumer Protection, on behalf of the State of Hawai’i, today filed a lawsuit against Takata Corporation, TK Holdings, Inc., Honda Motor Co., American Honda Motor Co, and Honda of America Manufacturing, Inc. for making, supplying, and using airbags they knew to be unsafe.  Hawai’i is the first state to file a lawsuit against these companies for their roles in causing millions of cars to be sold with airbags that could explode, posing grave, sometimes fatal, dangers to the cars’ occupants.

Click to view complaint

Click to view complaint

Hawai’i asserts claims under the State’s consumer protection laws for unfair and deceptive conduct.  The complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, including a meaningful campaign to educate drivers about the need to seek repairs, restitution for car buyers, disgorgement of the companies’ profits from these airbags, and the maximum civil penalties allowed by law of $10,000 per violation.

The State’s complaint alleges that Takata made the decision to switch to cheaper ammonium nitrate to inflate its airbags despite the known risks of ammonium nitrate, a chemical principally used to propel rockets and for mining and demolition.  Though Takata’s own testing showed that the ammonium nitrate propellant was unpredictable and prone to explode, Takata sold its airbags to automakers knowing they would be installed in vehicles and sold to consumers.  The complaint quotes one former Takata engineer, who has testified that, prior to the launch of the new inflators, he warned a manager that ‘if we go forward with [ammonium nitrate], someone will be killed.”  As the complaint lays out, a dozen individuals have been killed when Takata airbags exploded in their cars, sending shrapnel through the vehicle, and more than one hundred have been injured.

The complaint also asserts that Takata hid its findings and doctored its data to hide the dangers of its airbags.  According to publicly available documents and the State’s complaint, even when Honda became aware of the problems, it continued to sell cars equipped with Takata airbags and inadequately pursued recalls—saving money while subjecting consumers to an ongoing risk of serious injury and death.

Hawai’i is one of four states that was the original focus of efforts to recall vehicles with Takata airbags because of the greater risks posed in areas with high humidity and high temperatures.  Roughly 70,000 vehicles with Takata airbags have been sold to Hawaii consumers.  Nationally, according to data reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only one-third to half of these airbags have been repaired or replaced.

“Companies that supply and market goods to Hawai’i consumers are obligated to deliver products that are safe and to provide consumers with full, accurate, and timely information when dangers become known.  According to the facts alleged in the complaint, Takata and Honda put their own profits and reputations ahead of honesty and their customers’ safety.  We intend to hold them accountable for their conduct,” said Stephen Levins, Executive Director of the State Office of Consumer Protection.

The complaint asserts two causes of action against the Takata and Honda companies, but also names anonymous “Doe Defendants.”  The State will consider adding corporate or individual defendants based upon the evidence revealed during the litigation.

Consumers are strongly encouraged to visit http://www.safercar.gov/rs/takata/ or to contact their car dealer to determine whether their car is subject to a recall, to request required repairs, and to seek a replacement vehicle from the dealer until their airbag can be replaced or repaired.

The State of Hawai’i is also being assisted in this action by the Honolulu law firm of Cronin Fried Sekiya Kekina & Fairbanks and the Washington, DC office of the law firm of Cohen Milstein.

Hawai’i’s complaint is attached and available at http://cca.hawaii.gov/ocp/files/2016/05/State-of-Hawaii-v.-Takata-Corporation-Complaint.pdf.

A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) regarding the recall is available at http://cca.hawaii.gov/ocp/takata-recall-faqs/.

Two Dozen State, County and Federal Agencies Combine Efforts to Raise Awareness About Hawaii Wildfire and Drought

Government and non-government organizations from across the state today, announced a collaborative effort to raise awareness about the threat of wildfire and drought to Hawaii’s natural resources and to private and public property.  Wildfire & Drought Look Out!, is a continuing campaign to keep people across the state informed of current fire and drought conditions, provide tips on protecting life and property from wildfire, and to provide information and education on how to deal with prolonged drought.

Wildfire and Drought Look Out

The Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) is the lead agency charged with wildfire prevention and suppression on public lands across the state. DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “We hope this campaign, which has both a public and a media component, will educate and inform everyone living in and visiting Hawaii about the year-around threat of wildfires. While fires here in Hawaii burn smaller acreages than in much larger western states, the percentage of forest land we lose each year to wildfire, based on Hawaii’s actual land mass, is equal to states like California.”

This year already 10,865 acres have burned, over twice the number of acres burned during all of 2015. A recent wildfire on Oahu’s leeward coast, at Nanakuli, destroyed or damaged thousands of acres, including some native forest. Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves commented, “During this fire, flames crept precariously close to homes. The work of county and state fire fighters prevented property loss, and the precautions taken by many homeowners to create defensible space between their houses and surrounding areas prevented serious property loss.  This is exactly the type of activity we hope to encourage during the “Wildfire & Drought Look Out!” campaign.

The campaign has two components. The Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO) is one of the primary partners in the Wildfire & Drought Look Out! project and HWMO Executive Director Elizabeth Pickett explained, “We have set up both a public and a media page on the HWMO website. The public page will have loads of information for home and property owners on how best to prepare for the possibility of wildfire well in advance.  We’ll include water saving information which is really topical during this prolonged drought event in many areas across the state, largely caused by El Nino weather conditions.” HWMO will also maintain and manage a media page, where partners can contribute story ideas and leads for reporters and their news organizations. Pickett added, “We hope media outlets across the state will find this information valuable and topical and join all of us in spreading prevention and preparedness messages widely.”

There was a time when wildfire season in Hawaii typically started in late spring or early summer and lasted until late fall.  “Now with prolonged drought across large regions of the Hawaiian Islands and long-range predictions that show no apparent relief soon, the timing of the Wildfire & Drought Look Out! campaign couldn’t be better,” said Derek Wroe, a forecaster with NOAA’s National Weather Service office in Honolulu, another of the project partners.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Centennial Events for June

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2016, and continues its tradition of sharing Hawaiian culture and After Dark in the Park (ADIP) programs with the public in June.

All ADIP and Hawaiian cultural programs are free, but park entrance fees apply. Programs are co-sponsored by Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association. Mark the calendar for these upcoming events:

Hawaiian Language Opera: Hā‘upu. Kamehameha Schools Hawaii will present the Hawaiian language opera, Hā‘upu, based on the legend of Hina and her son, Kana.

The cast for Hā‘upu, the Hawaiian language opera presented by Kamehameha Schools Hawai‘i. Courtesy photo.

The cast for Hā‘upu, the Hawaiian language opera presented by Kamehameha Schools Hawai‘i. Courtesy photo.

This all-school production tells the story through beautiful and powerful mele (song), oli (chant) and hula (dance). Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.
When: Tues., June 7 at 7 p.m.  Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Make a Hū Kukui. In old Hawai‘i, children played many simple games now largely forgotten. Help revive the practice of making and playing the traditional Hawaiian top, hū kukui. Join park rangers and staff from the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association, and let’s see whose hū kukui can spin the longest! Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing ‘Ike Hana No‘eau “Experience the Skillful Work” workshops. Free.
When: Wed., June 8 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai

Lili‘uokalani at Washington Place.  Jackie Pualani Johnson performs an amazing, one-woman show taken directly from the writings of Queen Lili‘uokalani, the queen’s family and other historical sources. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.
When: Tues., June 14 at 7 p.m.
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Hālau Nā Pua o Uluhaimālama. Hālau Nā Pua O Uluhaimālama, from Hawai‘i Island, is dedicated to perpetuating the culture and the art of hula. Led by kumu hula Emery Aceret, a student of the revered kumu hula Ray Fonseca, the hālau has participated in many notable hula competitions, including the Merrie Monarch Festival. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing Nā Leo Manu “Heavenly Voices” presentations. Free.

When: Wed., June 15 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Find Your Park on the Big Screen. Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau is where ancient Hawaiian lawbreakers and defeated warriors once found sanctuary; today the park provides a sanctuary for Hawaiian culture. Hawai‘i Volcanoes invites everyone to watch two films that highlight Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park: John Grabowska’s 16-minute film Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau: Place of Refuge and Brad Watanabe’s 12-minute documentary HiStory: Hawai‘i Island’s National Parks.
When: Friday, June 17 at 7 p.m. (Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park’s cultural festival is June 25). Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Kahuku ‘Ohana Day. Calling keiki 17 and younger to join park rangers for a fun day of discovery in the park’s Kahuku Unit. Participants will hike a new trail, and learn to weave their own lei.  Call (808) 985-6019 to register and sign up for a free lunch by June 2. Bring water, a re-usable water bottle, sunscreen, hat, long pants and shoes. Sponsored by the park, Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association, and Queen Lili‘uokalani Children’s Center. Enter the Kahuku Unit of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on the mauka (inland) side of Highway 11 near mile marker 70.5, and meet near the parking area. Free.

When: Sat., June 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Where: Kahuku Unit

Weave a Tī Leaf lei.  Join park rangers and learn to weave a tī leaf lei. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing ‘Ike Hana No‘eau “Experience the Skillful Work” workshops. Free.
When: Wed., June 22 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.  Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai

Centennial Series After Dark in the Park: The Evolution of Landscape Restoration at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Since its establishment in 1916, various attempts to conserve and protect the park’s rich biological resources have been made by the Territory of Hawai‘i, the National Park Service, and citizen scientists – with varying degrees of success. Beginning in 1970, park staff adopted a systematic park-wide approach to managing species and habitats which continues today. Join Chief of Natural Resource Management Dr. Rhonda Loh to learn more about these Special Ecological Areas, or SEAs, and decades of successful restoration in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

When: Tues., June 28, 2016 at 7 p.m.  Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

After Dark Out of the Park: The Evolution of Landscape Restoration at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Since its establishment in 1916, various attempts to conserve and protect the park’s rich biological resources have been made by the Territory of Hawai‘i, the National Park Service, and citizen scientists – with varying degrees of success. Beginning in 1970, park staff adopted a systematic park-wide approach to managing species and habitats which continues today. Join Chief of Natural Resource Management Dr. Rhonda Loh to learn more about these Special Ecological Areas, or SEAs, and decades of successful restoration in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Sponsored by Mokupāpapa Discovery Center.

When: Wed., June 29, 2016 at 7 p.m.  Where: Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in downtown Hilo, 76 Kamehameha Avenue

Centennial Hike: Kīpukapuaulu, the Park’s First Special Ecological Area. Dr. Rhonda Loh leads an easy 1.2-mile hike through the park’s inaugural Special Ecological Area (SEA), Kīpukapuaulu. This forested area is considered a “hot spot” of biological diversity, with more native tree species per acre than any other forest in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. The essence of this treasured habitat is captured in its name: kīpuka (island of ancient vegetation surrounded by a sea of younger lava flows), pua (flower), and ulu (growing)—a fertile oasis of flourishing plants. Sturdy footwear, water, light raingear, sun protection, and a snack are recommended. About two hours.
When: Sat., July 2, 2016 at 9:30 a.m.  Where: Meet at the Kīpukapuaulu trailhead

2016 is the centennial anniversary for Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, and the year-long Centennial After Dark in the Park & Hike Series. To find out what’s happening throughout 2016, visit the park website. It’s also the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. To find centennial events at other national parks, visit FindYourPark.com.

Mayor Kenoi’s Statement On New Haneda-Kona Route

Hawaiʻi County Mayor Billy Kenoi said he is thrilled by today’s announcement that the U.S. Department of Transportation has approved the application by Hawaiian Airlines to provide passenger air service to Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport from Honolulu and Kona International Airports.
Kona tokyo

“Our economy is uniquely tied to air service,” said Mayor Kenoi. “Thousands of our working families depend on the visitor industry, not only at resorts and hotels, but also at attractions, activities, restaurants, and retailers. This is great news for our state, and especially for Hawaiʻi Island.”

Entrepreneurs on Hawaiʻi Island who specialize in agriculture and aquaculture niche markets will also benefit from added market opportunities since this flight will be able to carry air cargo. “These products no longer have to be sent to Honolulu before being flown to Japan,” said Mayor Kenoi. “This increases freshness and reduces cost.”

The new route will bring a regularly scheduled international flight to Hawaiʻi Island for the first time since 2010, the last year Japan Airlines offered service between Kona and Tokyo’s Narita airport. Hawaiian Airlines will start flying directly into Kona from Haneda three times a week by Jan. 29, 2017.

Assisting in the restoration of this route has been a priority of the Kenoi administration ever since Japan Air Lines ended its service. “The County of Hawaiʻi has done everything it could to support Hawaiian Airlines’ application for the flight, including discussions and communications with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Department of Homeland Defense Secretary Jeh Johnson regarding Customs and Border Protection in Kona.”

Mayor Kenoi thanked Hawaiian Airlines for never giving up its pursuit to expand its Hawaiʻi-Japan routes, significantly the direct flight into Kona. “Our residents are keenly aware of the great economic impact this will have for the entire island,” Mayor Kenoi said. “This is also a win-win as it strengthens the competitiveness of Hawaiian Airlines in this market, and fulfills a U.S. Department of Transportation mandate to strengthen smaller carriers.”

First Annual Waipi’o Kalo Festival Coming Up

The first annual Waipi‘o Kalo Festival will take place on Saturday, June 4, 2016, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Koa‘ekea, near the Waipi‘o Valley Lookout. Presented by the grassroots state-recognized nonprofit, Hā Ola O Waipi‘o Valley, the free event is a tribute to kalo (taro), Waipi’o, and the kupuna and others who live, work, and find inspiration there.

Waipio Valley Taro Festival

The Kalo Festival is designed to be educational as well as entertaining, and will include much that Hawai‘i Island loves: live music and hula, craft vendors, games and great food. In addition, there will be displays and talk story sessions about the region’s rich history, and its significance in Hawaiian culture.

Central to Hawaiian culture, kalo is considered the “older brother” of all Hawaiians. Legend says that a child named Hāloa was born to deities Wakea and Ho‘ohōkūkalani. Hāloa died at birth and was buried in the garden, where soon shoots of kalo plants began to grow. Their next child was named Hāloa in his honor, and to forever acknowledge the familial tie between people and nature.

Waipi‘o was home to many deities and notable ali‘i, and at its peak, the thriving agricultural community may have supported a population as high as 10,000 people. Waipi‘o is also a storied wahi pana, sacred place, site of seven important heiau (temples) including  Pāka‘alana, a pu‘uhonua, “place of refuge.”

The Kalo Festival is designed to be educational as well as entertaining, and will include much that Hawai‘i Island loves: live music and hula, craft vendors, games and great food. In addition, there will be displays and talk story sessions about the region’s rich history, and its significance in Hawaiian culture.

Every aspect of the Kalo Festival is connected to the Valley in some way. Presenters may come from multigenerational kalo farmers on ancestral lands; cultural practitioners appreciate its vast resources; artists and musicians, even chefs, are inspired by Waipi‘o for their creations.

Hands-on ku‘i kalo gives festival-goers a feel for the art of poi pounding, and other cultural activities like lei-making, lau hala and lau niu weaving are available. More competitive attendees can enter the Taro Team Relay, a fun obstacle course with a simulation of a typical taro farmer’s jobs.

On the scholarly side, agricultural exhibits and demonstrations offer a chance to learn about varieties of kalo and how they are cultivated, its preparation as food and nutritional/health benefits. Displays from USDA, DLNR, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), North Hawaii Education and Research Center (NHERC) and others cover a broad range of related topics, from healthy soils, to agro-forestry, the importance of water, and more.

For the foodies, a Kalo Cookoff offers prizes to home chefs who bring their best kalo pupu, main dish or dessert for a friendly competition with prizes. Any part of the kalo plant may be used in the dish. (To enter, please bring at least five portions for judges to taste. Kalo must be an ingredient.) Kalo Contest Winners will be announced after the Relay, and receive a Makana Basket and a Gift Certificate.

In addition, homestyle Hawaiian plate lunches will be available for sale, with kalua pig, laulau, squid lū‘au, chicken long rice, sweet potatoes, fernshoot salad, haupia, kulolo, poke and of course, poi.

Koa‘ekea (the former Rice property is located at 48-5546 Waipi‘o Valley Road, and event parking will be available at Kukuihaele Park, with free shuttles provided. No parking at the Lookout.

The schedule for the day includes:

  • 9 a.m. Gate opens. Opening Pule and Oli at 9:05 a.m.
  • 9:10 a.m. Hālau Na Lei Punahele, Kumu Hula Punahele Andrade
  • 10 a.m. Larry Miller and Jeff Quinn
  • 10:50 a.m. Hālau Kou Lima Nani E, Kumu Hula Iwalani Kalima
  • 11:50 a.m. Sons of Keawe
  • 1-1:50 p.m. Kalo Team Relay/Kalo Cookoff
  • 2 p.m. Rubbah Slippah Productions, Ryan Hiraoka
  • 2:50 p.m. Masoe ‘Ohana
  • 3:50 p.m. Closing Pule and Hawai‘i Aloha

The Kalo Festival is sponsored by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the County of Hawai‘i and other generous supporters. Friends of the Future and Pōhāhā I Ka Lani both serve as the fiscal sponsors for this project. For more information about the Kalo Festival, email HaolaoWaipioValley@gmail.com or follow Hā Ola O Waipio Valley on Facebook.

Joint Task Force Established to Combat Rat Lungworm Disease in Hawaii

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) and the East Hawaii Liaison to the Office of the Governor announced today the establishment of a Joint Task Force to assess the threat of rat lungworm disease (Angiostrongyliasis) in Hawaii. The mission of the task force is to share scientific knowledge in the application of diagnostics, treatment, mitigation and public education activities.

rat lungworm

Rat lungworm disease is caused by a nematode, which is a roundworm parasite called Angiostrongylus cantonensis. The parasitic nematode can be passed from the feces of infected rodents to snails, slugs and certain other animals, which become intermediate hosts for the parasite. Humans can become infected when they consume, either intentionally or otherwise, infected raw or undercooked intermediate hosts.

Although rat lungworm has been found throughout the state, Hawaii Island has a majority of the cases. Some infected people don’t show any symptoms or only have mild symptoms. For others, the symptoms can be much more severe, which can include headaches, stiffness of the neck, tingling or painful feelings in the skin or extremities, low-grade fever, nausea, and vomiting. Sometimes, a temporary paralysis of the face may also be present, as well as light sensitivity. This infection can also cause a rare type of meningitis (eosinophilic meningitis).

“Establishing a joint task force with local experts in the medical field and leaders in government will produce a set of best practices that be used to target rat lungworm disease not only on Hawaii Island, but on a statewide scale as well,” said Wil Okabe, East Hawaii Liaison to the Office of the Governor. “There is no specific treatment yet identified for this disease, so finding the best ways to prevent its spread and educate the public is crucial.”

The members of the task force are as follows:

  • Wil Okabe (Facilitator), East Hawaii Governor’s Liaison Office
  • Robert Cowie, Ph.D., Pacific Biosciences Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • Robert Hollingsworth, Ph.D., U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Sue Jarvi, Ph.D., School of Pharmacy, University of Hawaii at Hilo
  • Jerry Kahana, Hawaii State Department of Agriculture
  • Kenton Kramer, Ph.D., Department of Tropical Medicine, John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM)
  • John Martell, M.D., Hilo Medical Center
  • Marian Melish, M.D., Pediatric Infectious Disease, Kapiolani Medical Center
  • Donn Mende, Research and Development, County of Hawaii
  • DeWolfe Miller, Ph.D., Tropical Medicine Microbiology and Pharmacology, JABSOM
  • Peter Oshiro, Sanitation Branch, DOH
  • Sarah Park, M.D., F.A.A.P., State Epidemiologist, DOH
  • Joanna Seto, Save Drinking Water Branch, DOH
  • Aaron Ueno, Hawaii District Health Office, DOH
  • Chris Whelen, Ph.D., State Laboratories Division, DOH
  • Jonnie Yates, M.D., Kaiser Permanente