Carroll Seeks Transfer of Kalawao County to DHHL
Representative Mele Carroll of Maui introduced a Senate Bill aimed at transferring Kalawao County to the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL). Kalawao County, which encompasses the historic Kalaupapa settlement for Hansen’s Disease patients on Molokai, is currently under the ownership and management of the state department of Health and the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The intent of the bill is to prevent home or building construction at the site.
House Bill 2975 and its companion legislation SB 2771, authorizes DHHL to accept the transfer, provided the agency transfers the land to the native Hawaiian sovereign entity upon recognition, and prohibits Maui County from zoning authority in Kalawao County.
”This place must never be developed or made into a tourist destination,” said Rep. Carroll. “What happened here in Kalaupapa must be a reminder to the world of the devastating and horrifying experience that took place where our Hawaiian people were abandoned and left to die because of fear and hatred for our people that lived with the Hansen’s Disease,” said Carroll.
Carroll said some Hawaii residents have expressed interest in building homes at Kalaupapa. She cited opposition by some officials with the National Park Service, as well as patients and care givers who, according to Carroll, have reportedly stated that, “such development would be inappropriate in a place where an estimated 8,000 people were essentially left to die, having no food, water and medical care.”
“We must preserve this place in remembrance of the struggles that Saint Father Damien and others gave their lives to care for our people. By returning the lands back to its rightful owner, the Hawaiian people, we will honor everyone whose lives were touched by this awful disease and experience. I support this effort and its return of the lands to our Hawaiian government and its people upon recognition by the United States Government,” said Carroll.
(Posted by Wendy Osher; Supporting information courtesy the office of Rep. Mele Carroll)