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Native Hawaiian Lawyers Teach Water Rights

June 1, 2018, 1:08 PM HST · Updated June 1, 1:08 PM
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Mahesh Cleveland. PC: Kekoa Enomoto

Native Hawaiian law-school associates will pour on water-rights information tomorrow.

Hawaiian homesteaders are invited to a University of Hawaiʻi law school-led water law and advocacy workshop from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 2, in the Lahaina Intermediate School cafeteria, with lunch and refreshments provided.

The free session repeats during the same hours June 16 at Haʻikū Elementary School.

Among the workshop leaders is part-Hawaiian Mahesh Cleveland, originally of Huelo and a recent graduate of the UH William S. Richardson School of Law.

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“I grew up right next to twin falls,” said Ceveland who spoke of playing in nearby streams and ditches.  “There is a lot of water on this island, and I think that it’s been misappropriated in a lot of senses. It’s a plantation-era paradigm and infrastructure that’s still in place. What the law is and whether or not it’s actually enforced are two completely separate things.

“The parties responsible for managing that resource need to take their responsibility seriously — their public trust duty. If people are informed and educated, and they know how to advocate for their rights — the more people that are able to do that, the more the different government agencies and responsible parties will be forced to listen,” said Cleveland, citing a need for “having enough voices and/or a strong enough voice so that it equals the pressures and influences that come from other parties.”

Other law-school associates leading the workshop include Professor Kapua Sproat of Nā Wai ʻEha fame and student Luʻukia Nakanelua, daughter of retired federal fire Captain Kyle Nakanelua of Maui. The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands sponsors the sessions in collaboration with the UH law school.

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RSVP for either workshop at (808) 782-3337 or email nhlawctr@hawaii.edu.

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