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Commentary – Mililani Trask on Geothermal Development

I received the following commentary on behalf of Mililani Trask regarding geothermal development in Puna.

Mililani Trask

In recent weeks a small group of angry & uninformed individuals have begun a campaign of misinformation, the goal of which is to prevent the development of geothermal energy on Hawaii Island. Claiming ownership of the Pele name & case information, this group is asserting that geothermal development threatens the cultural & religious practices of Hawaiians and violates their First Amendment rights under the US Constitution.

I am sending out this email to clarify what occurred when the Pele cases were litigated and how the outcome of the cases expanded Hawaiian cultural practice but did not stop or prevent geothermal development.

In the early 1980’s the Campbell Estate made public its plan for geothermal development at Kahauale’a. They brought in cheap filthy technology, never had a public community meeting, ignored Hawaiian traditional rights to gather & worship, and presented a plan under which they would reap hundreds of millions of dollars without any benefit to the public & native Hawaiians, who were the owners of geothermal public trust assets. Campbell Estate had wanted to develop Kahauale’a , but when these lands proved undevelopable, Campbell & the State moved for a land exchange in order to develop Wao Kele O Puna Forest.

Palikapu Dedman & others then challenged the land exchange in State contested case hearings. They claimed genealogical ties to Pele & asserted that drilling for geothermal was a desecration & rape of Pele’s body & a violation of their rights under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. The Pele Defense Plaintiffs lost on appeal to the Hawaii Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled their right to worship had not been burdened because the area of development was not a traditional place of ceremony. (see Dedman V. DLNR , 740 P.2d 28 (1987)

Following this loss, the Pele Defense plaintiffs brought suit in Federal Court arguing that the land exchange violated the trust contained in the Admissions Act. The Pele Defense Plaintiffs lost this case when the court ruled their claims were barred because of the State’s Sovereign Immunity under the 11th Amendment.

The Pele Defense Plaintiffs also litigated this in State Court, but lost when the State Court ruled that the Federal decision had resolved the issue.

Despite these losses, Hawaiians did win a significant victory when the Court acknowledged & supported Hawaiian cultural rights and expanded the exercise of these rights to areas outside the ‘ahupua’a. Prior to this case, the practice of cultural rights had been limited to the area of the ‘ahupua’a.

Initially, the legal strategy and work was undertaken by the Law Offices of Yuklin Aluli & Mililani Trask. Early on, I left Oahu and returned to Hawaii Island to represent the Kupuna who would later be called upon to lead the march. Soon, the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC) joined in and with the help of many Hawaiian legal minds and the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) the Pele cases were initiated & litigated. Some attorneys gave advice, some did research & some took the case to the Supreme Court. Attorneys from the continent helped with the environmental claims, it was a collective effort by many. The Pele cases are important legal precedents that should be understood by all because they set criteria on Hawaiian rights to worship, and also established conditions for development in culturally sensitive areas.

In March 1990, environmentalists called for the ‘Big March’. Shortly after the announcement, it became evident that the so-called ‘Hawaiian leaders’ of the PDF were not going to get arrested. None of them lived in Puna, One was a medical doctor from Molokai & Oahu, who was concerned about his reputation, his girlfriend (an academic from Manoa) was worried about her career, Palikapu Dedman also backed out claiming he could not get arrested because he was a convicted felon on probation! In the end, it was aunty Pele Hanoa, (Palikapu’s mother) who walked at the head of the March with other Kupuna wahine from Ka Lahui Hawaii. I walked with them as their attorney, I met with the police before hand to ensure there would be no problems, I held their purses when they climbed over the fence & bailed them out of jail. The police, some of whom were Hawaiian, helped the Kupuna by assisting them over the fence, there was no negativity, injury or anger.

If you check the record you will find that none of the PDF ‘leaders’ have ever gotten arrested protecting Hawaiian cultural or religious rights. Palikapu Dedman did not bring or win these cases, he does not have the capacity, the attorneys brought and won this case. Whenever the time has arisen to stand up to stop desecration of culture, Palikapu has always used the same excuse….he is a felon with criminal convictions (shoplifting, firearms violations & multiple convictions for Promoting Detrimental Drugs in our community) and can’t risk getting arrested again!!!!!
As a Hawaiian who has been arrested protecting cultural rights & burials, I am proud of the effort that went into the Pele cases, and proud to have been a part of the legal effort to advance & expand our cultural rights to worship. Its time we use these wins to ensure that culture is respected & protected when renewable energy is developed for Hawaii Island.

In the 24 years since the case was brought and for the last 18 years that PGV has been operating in Puna, there has not been a single case or instance of a Hawaiian being denied their right to worship Pele because of geothermal development.

Mililani B. Trask, Attorney
Indigenous Expert to the United Nations
Indigenous Consultants, LLC

Hawaiian Perspectives on Geothermal Talk Story Sessions Continue

WHAT:

Following their recent response to the HELCO RFI on Hawai‘i island, IDG executives will take part in two community forums and information sessions on geothermal development in late September.

Hawaiian Perspectives on Geothermal

IDG’s innovative model for geothermal development has been a hot topic of discussion over the last few weeks. From a briefing for Hawaii legislators at the capitol and an energy forum for the Democratic Environmental Caucus to high-profile meetings with the PUC, DLNR and DHHL, word is traveling fast that Hawai‘i could benefit from IDG’s community-based approach to geothermal development.

The Hawai‘i Island community events later this month will feature presentations from Native Hawaiians on community-based models for geothermal development, cultural issues and the protection of cultural resources, OHA’s role in Wao Kele O Puna forest management, the revenue OHA receives from Geothermal development, and Native Hawaiian/public ownership of geothermal ‘minerals’ as assets of the ceded land trust.

WHO:

Moderated by IDG CEO Patricia Brandt, the forum’s panelists will include Mililani Trask , Esq. (Indigenous Consultants LLC), Ku’uleiohuokalani Kealoha Cooper (Kealoha Estate), Cy Bridges (IDG Cultural Advisor), Robert Lindsey (Trustee, OHA Hawaii Island), Richard Ha (Co-Chair, Geothermal Working Group & Hamakua Springs), and Wally Ishibashi (Co-Chair, Geothermal Working Group, Member of Hawaii Labor Alliance).

The Hawaiian Geothermal Community Informational Sessions are sponsored by Innovations Development Group, Inc., Kealoha Estate, Indigenous Consultants LLC, Bob Lindsey, OHA Trustee—Hawaii Island.

Hawaiian Perspectives on Geothermal Panel Meeting Planned for Maui

Media Release:

WHAT:  The third in a series of community forums and information sessions on geothermal development in Hawaii .

From the Pahoa Geothermal Community Meeting held on April 9th, 2011

The crowd at the Pahoa Geothermal Community Meeting held on April 9th, 2011

The event will feature presentations from Native Hawaiians on community-based models for geothermal development, cultural issues and the protection of cultural resources, OHA’s role in Wao Kele O Puna forest management, the revenue OHA receives from Geothermal development, and native Hawaiian/public ownership of geothermal ‘minerals’ as assets of the ceded land trust. Also to be discussed is the issue of “peak oil” and its impacts to the global and local community.

Patricia Brandt, CEO of Innovations Development Group (IDG)

Patricia Brandt, CEO of Innovations Development Group (IDG) talks to the Pahoa community

WHO: Patricia Brandt, CEO of Innovations Development Group (IDG), a Native Hawaiian company with geothermal projects on Maori Trust lands in New Zealand , will moderate the forum. IDG has a proprietary native model for geothermal development that is firmly rooted in the community. They believe that the community must have a strong voice and stake in the development of public assets. Six native Hawaiian leaders will give presentations (information below). All community members are cordially invited to attend this information session to help ensure that we make the right decisions regarding our energy future.

WHEN: Wednesday, July 20, 2011, 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Hannibal Tavares (Pukalani) Community Center

91Pukalani St. Pukalani, Maui , HI 96768

Hawaiian experts say that sustainable, domestic energy can fuel the Hawaiian Islands of the future, and replace more costly, dirty and dangerous alternatives like fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

Senator Hanohano and Mililani Trask talk story outside the Pahoa Community Center

Senator Hanohano and Mililani Trask talk story outside the Pahoa Community Center

Now a group of Hawaiian organizations, corporations and noted individuals, including former opponents of the Wao Kele O Puna project like international human rights attorney Mililani Trask, have coordinated a public forum to discuss Community-Based Development of Geothermal Resource

The Community Geothermal Informational Sessions Series began Saturday April 9th in Pahoa. The session was well attended with community members and business leaders coming to learn about geothermal opportunities for Hawai‘i and to share their views. The next community meeting took place in Hilo on May 28th and was deemed informational and productive by those who attended. The series now moves to Maui on July 20th, for a community meeting featuring additional presentations from distinguished guests.

Moderated by IDG CEO Patricia Brandt, the forum’s panelists will include Mililani Trask, Esq. (Indigenous Consultants LLC), Ku’uleiohuokalani Kealoha Cooper (Kealoha Estate), Cy Bridges (IDG Cultural Advisor), Robert Lindsey (Trustee, OHA Hawaii Island), Hulu Lindsey (Lindsey Realty and Kahulu Productions), Richard Ha (Co-Chair, Geothermal Working Group & Hamakua Springs), and Wally Ishibashi (Co-Chair, Geothermal Working Group, Member of Hawaii Labor Alliance).

The Hawaiian Geothermal Community Informational Sessions are sponsored by Kealoha Estate, Indigenous Consultants LLC, Innovations Development Group, Inc., Bob Lindsey, OHA Trustee—Hawaii Island, Kanaka Council Moku O Keawe, Laulima Title Search and Claims.

Hilo Community Meeting on Hawaiian Perspectives in Support of Geothermal Development

Geothermal Meeting

Media Release:

WHAT:  The second in a series of community forum and information sessions on geothermal development in Hawaii . The event will feature presentations from Native Hawaiians on community based models for geothermal development, cultural issues and the protection of cultural resources, OHA’s role in Wao Kele O Puna forest management, the revenue OHA receives from Geothermal development, and native Hawaiian/public ownership of geothermal ‘minerals’ as assets of the ceded land trust. Also, the issue of “peak oil” and its impacts to the global and local community; and the findings of the geothermal Working Group for Hawaii Island.

 WHO: Patricia Brandt, CEO of Innovations Development Group (IDG), a Hawaii-based corporation with geothermal projects on Maori Trust lands in New Zealand , will moderate the forum. Six native Hawaiian leaders will give presentations (information below).

WHEN: Saturday, May 28, 2011, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

WHERE: University of Hawaii Hilo Campus Center , 200 W. Kawili Street.  Hilo , Hawaii , 96720 – Phone: (808) 965-2704

WHY: Geothermal energy in Hawaii has been controversial in the past. Come find out how this sustainable, domestic energy force can help fuel the Hawaiian Islands in the future and discuss community-based development of geothermal resources.

INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY : If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with one of our participants, please call Ryan Matsumoto at 808.536.0434 or email Ryan at info@idghawaii.com

Continue reading

Hawaii’s Innovations Development Group Tapped for Major New Zealand Geothermal Project

 “Native to Native” model can help Hawaii too

Media Release:

Hawaii-based Innovations Development Group [IDG] is pleased to announce that it has been approved as a “foreign” corporation by the New Zealand Government’s Overseas Investment Office and is poised to commence a joint venture partnership with the Eastland Group and a native Maori land Trust of New Zealand. IDG was awarded the exclusive rights to develop the Maori land Trust’s geothermal resources in January 2008 and engaged Eastland Group of Gisborne, NZ, in August 2010 as the technical and financial partner.

Negotiating N2N Model in New Zealand

Negotiating N2N Model in New Zealand

The transaction was structured around IDG’s proprietary Native-to-Native (N2N) community-based development model. The first phase of the project’s proposed 50 MW plus project is intended to begin construction soon.

Patricia Brandt

Patricia Brandt (CEO)

“It’s taken time and trust to get to where we are: ready to begin geothermal development in New Zealand . The very name of the project, Te ahi o Maui , calls to mind the mythology and close cultural ties that connect us as a Polynesian people. Maori Trust leaders will only accept developments on Trust land that are ecologically, economically and culturally sustainable,” says IDG CEO Patricia Brandt.  “They believe our involvement helps ensure this.”

Community Perspective Replaces Past Opposition

Though opposed to Hawaii geothermal projects in the past because of the absence of efforts to address community needs and rights, IDG executives say that today, less intrusive technologies, clean technology, culturally sensitive protocols based on judicially established rights,  and a genuine community-oriented perspective make geothermal a viable energy alternative. They believe that Hawaii can learn from the New Zealand project.

Mililani Trask (Indigenous and Community Advisor)

Mililani Trask (Indigenous and Community Advisor)

“Native Hawaiians, like the Maori and many other indigenous people around the world are resource-rich but concerned about exploitation,” says IDG Indigenous and Community Advisor Mililani Trask.  “IDG brings access to capital and technical expertise in a highly specialized field to guarantee that development on native peoples’ lands benefits the native, local community and our larger society.”

Native-to-Native Model Delivers Fair Return to All

According to IDG’s Senior Advisor Robbie Le’a Kapi’olani Cabral, the company has become internationally recognized for its Native-to-Native business model of sustainable development.

Robbie Le’a Kapi’olani Cabral (Senior Advisor)

Robbie Le’a Kapi’olani Cabral (Senior Advisor)

The complex joint venture agreements IDG negotiated on behalf of the Kawerau Trust ensure significant returns to all stakeholders.  The project will deliver economic growth and job creation while respecting the cultural values of the Maori people.  Project investors can count on fair profits and New Zealand will enjoy enhanced renewable energy production to meet its growing need for electricity.

“We put into place a structure that ensures the training, employment and substantive participation of the Maori people in the development of resources which are theirs through the status of the land as a taonga (treasured asset). Every beneficiary of this development has whakapapa or genealogical ties to the land,” said Cabral.  “We structured the deal to protect those rights while delivering a generous return to investors and long term energy diversification for the country, ” she added.

This concept has now been used with other Maori land trusts and incorporations working with IDG in the energy sector of New Zealand .

Ideal for Hawaii too

“The N2N model forms the basis in dealing with native stakeholders while embracing the larger society as a community-based development which is ideal for Hawaii ,” adds Brandt. “Using it, we can build a more sustainable energy future for Hawaii in a way that protects our land [aina] and cultural traditions, compensates the community fairly and reduces our dependence on foreign oil. It’s an approach that benefits the state and provides income and jobs at a time when both are desperately needed,” said  Brandt. “We hope the state will partner with us and embrace a model for geothermal development whose time is now.”

IDG Team with former President Oscar Temaru of the Government of French Polynesia in Tahiti

IDG Team with former President Oscar Temaru of the Government of French Polynesia in Tahiti

About Innovations Development Corporation, Hawaii

Innovations Development Group (IDG) is a Hawaii-based strategic planning and development company specializing in developing Indigenous land and resource assets focusing on renewable energy.

For more information: http://innovationsdevelopmentgroup.com

Geothermal Informational Community Sessions Begin Saturday in Pahoa

Media Release:

What: A community form and information session on geothermal development in Hawaii . The event will feature presentations from Native Hawaiians on community based models for geothermal development, cultural issues and the protection of cultural resources, OHA’s role in Wao Kele O Puna forest management, the revenue OHA receives from Geothermal development, and native Hawaiian/public ownership of geothermal ‘minerals’ as assets of the ceded land trust.

Who: Patricia Brandt, CEO of Innovations Development Group (IDG), a Hawaii-based corporation with geothermal projects on Maori Trust lands in New Zealand , will moderate the forum. Six native Hawaiian leaders will give presentations.

When: Saturday, April 9, 2011, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Where: Pahoa Community Center , 15-2710 Kauhale Road , Pahoa , HI 96778

Phone: 808.965.2704

Why: Geothermal energy in Hawaii has been controversial in the past. Come find out how this sustainable, domestic energy force can help fuel the Hawaiian islands in the future and discuss community-based development of geothermal resources.

Interview Opportunity: If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with one of our participants, please call Ryan Matsumoto at 808.536.0434 or email Ryan at info@idghawaii.com

Hawaiian experts say that sustainable, domestic energy can fuel the Hawaiian Islands of the future, and replace more costly, dirty and dangerous alternatives like fossil fuels and nuclear energy.  But geothermal energy has a controversial past in Hawaii .  In the early 1990s a coalition of Native Hawaiians and environmentalists successfully closed down the Wao Kele O Puna geothermal development project, in part because the proposed site had historical and cultural significance for Hawaiians, and it was located in Hawaii ’s largest remaining lowland wet forest, home to native plants and wild life.

Now a group of Hawaiian organizations, corporations and noted individuals, including former opponents of the Wao Kele O Puna project like international human rights attorney Mililani Trask, have coordinated a public forum to discuss Community-Based Development of Geothermal Resources.

The Geothermal Informational Community Sessions begin Saturday April 9th in Pahoa. This session is for the Puna community and will feature six presenters, all Native Hawaiian sharing their personal perspectives on community based models for geothermal development, cultural issues and the protection of cultural resources, OHA’s role in Wao Kele O Puna forest management, the revenue OHA receives from Geothermal development, and native Hawaiian/public ownership of geothermal ‘minerals’ as assets of the ceded land trust.

Innovations Development Group (IDG), a Hawaii-based corporation with geothermal projects on Maori Trust lands in New Zealand is one of the participants.  IDG CEO Patricia Brandt says it is imperative that the Hawaiian and local community have a say in future geothermal development.  “Geothermal is a public resource.  The current business model of an outside company coming in, tapping our resources and then making us pay for the product we give them access to exploit is not the future we envision.  The people of the land need to be real partners in any geothermal development, and we have the expertise to make that happen.”

Hawaiians have long had a vision for geothermal.  Back in 1881 King David Kalakaua journeyed to New York to discuss a solution with Thomas Edison for pumping geothermal energy through interisland underground powerlines from the Big Island of Hawaii to Oahu to power Honolulu and Iolani Palace amongst other sites.

The community informational sessions are a critical step in planning for sustainable domestic energy in which the community has a role and a voice.  “The bottom line,” says Mililani Trask, “is that our community needs to be proactive and diligent in how we build out sustainable domestic resources like energy and food, and reclaim self-sufficiency for ourselves and our keiki.”

“As Hawaiians who are the owners of the resource,” adds Kuulei Kealoha, Trustee of the Kealoha Estate, “we need to be involved in geothermal development to ensure its development benefits the whole community.”

Community Informational Sessions:Saturday April 9, 2011, 10am-2pm Pahoa Community Center, 15-2710 Kauhale Road, Pahoa, HI 96778; 808.965.2704.

More to be added soon…

The Geothermal Informational Session panel will be moderated by IDG CEO Patricia Brandt.  Panelists include Mililani Trask, Esq. (International Human Rights Advocate), Ku’uleiohuokalani Kealoha Cooper (Kealoha Estate), Cy Bridges (Hawaiian Cultural Advisor), Bob Lindsey (OHA Trustee), and Kale Gumapac (CEO, Laulima Title Search & Guarantee).

The Hawaiian Geothermal Community Informational Sessions are sponsored by Kealoha Estate, Indigenous Consultants LLC, Innovations Development Group, Inc., Bob Lindsay, OHA Trustee—Hawaii Island, Kanaka Council Moku O Keawe, Laulima Title Search and Claims.