Letters Recently Written by Students at Sacred Hearts School

During the last several years of our work, the youth have been so inspiring. Their love for the area and their clear vision of what is right is our compass. Here are some recent letters from them.
Recently, I have seen many “Save Honolua” bumper stickers. This has inspired me to raise awareness about how important it is to preserve the sacred aina we call Honolua Bay. It is one of the last open spaces left on Maui. Travelers from all over the globe come to the island of Maui to see the majestic and cultural land space, not to see land that has been developed.

I realize that my becoming more aware of what is in my “backyard”, that I can inform others who are not aware. I can share my knowledge of how to protect our sacred land. I can inform them about how to take care of the land, of what is happening with development so that they can know how to help. I am determined to make a change and will not stop until I do. Thank you for your time.

Natalie Kent

I only moved to this beautiful island of Maui last year. I have learned that Honolua Bay is one of the few remaining sacred undeveloped parts on the West side of Maui. It is imperative to do whatever needs to be done to keep this gorgeous land to be enjoyed by the community so that people will see the true Maui, not a developed Maui.


Katie Slear
7th grader
Sacred Hearts School

I am writing this letter because I want Honolua Bay to be kept as the surf spot and beach that it is now. I have lived on this island all my life – 12 years. I have always walked on the beach of Honolua Bay. I will do whatever I have to do to save Honolua Bay. I will stay on the beach and protest development if I have to. I have found my courage to save Honolua Bay.


Giovanna Johnson
7th grader
Sacred Hearts School

I recently became aware that Maui Land and Pine was considering developing on the sacred ahupua’a of Honolua Bay. I’m extremely thankful that the decision was made to not develop Lipoa Point in 2007. I am now motivated to do what I can to preserve this beautiful Bay, to keep it sacred, and make our ancestors proud of us. It is up to us to keep this sacred ahupua’a thriving by doing anything and everything including informing others so as not to harm its safety and beauty.




What would you feel if someone took what you love most? Would you feel betrayed, enraged or depressed if this happened? One word that can describe how I would feel is outraged. About five years ago, we almost lost this wonderful place to development. Luckily, many in the community didn’t want this aina to be destroyed, so they protested and they prevailed. I wish to do this too, to make a change in the community, to open the eyes of people and to create a better home for our future. I wonder, “Why demolish a land worth a lifetime?” I want to help save our land.


Meiling Westberg
7th grader
Sacred Hearts School

Five years ago in 2007, Maui Land and Pine spoke of developing an area near Honolua Bay. When the word got out, the Maui County Council held a meeting and many community members including students from the West side of Maui spoke. They helped preserve Honolua Bay.

Now, today, I am writing this letter to continue to help preserve the Bay by spreading the word. Honolua Bay is one of the last undeveloped areas on Maui! I hope to raise awareness that doing something for profit doesn’t help the whole community.

Thank you for reading this.

Zoe Hirschson
7th grader Sacred Hearts School

Viewpoint: Group would like to see land protected

By TAMARA PALTIN for The Maui News

It is unfortunate that the quiet title process of forcing families to sell their ancestral lands continues in Hawaii in this day and age, however that is the result of legal action taken by Maui Land & Pineapple Co. over the last five years to quiet the title of a very small parcel of land located within the Honolua Marine Life Conservation District. While this is a sad situation, the Save Honolua Coalition hopes that it can be turned into an opportunity to further malama Honolua.

Our vision for this property is our mission for our nonprofit: Maintain open space, public access and revitalize the health of the Honolua ahupua’a through community-based management utilizing Hawaiian practices and values. We would like to facilitate a makai watch program being reinstated in this area and continue to fund port-a-potties, possibly at this location as part of a much needed management plan for this sensitive area.

It is disappointing that ML&P President and Chief Operating Officer Ryan Churchill declined to comment on The Maui News’ Jan. 29 article regarding the public auction of this property.

Time and time again the community has come out en masse to support the protection of Honolua Bay from private development, and I’m sure we would all like to know ML&P’s plans for the future at Honolua. Will it restart a bidding war at the confirmation hearing? If it were to acquire the land, what are its plans? As a publicly traded corporation beholden to their stockholders, ML&P and all of its employees are responsible for making a profit, so we wonder how outbidding our community will accomplish this. If the company has plans for conservation and management, wouldn’t it be cheaper for stockholders to allow a nonprofit to shoulder the burden? If ML&P or any other entity has plans for private or commercial development at Honolua, be assured that the community will rise up once again to protect Honolua.

Ultimately the Save Honolua Coalition would like the community to have ownership of this land through a conservation land trust. We are actively seeking to raise the necessary funds on our website, www.savehonolua.org. If you have a love for Honolua and believe in our mission and what we are doing, please donate. Every little bit helps. If you would like more information, contact us at kokua@savehonolua.org.

If ML&P or another entity ends up with control of the property at the confirmation hearing, we will continue to work on our mission and hope to work together with the landowners on a management plan to address the many threats faced by the Honolua Marine Life Conservation District.

* Tamara Paltin is the president of the Save Honolua Coalition. She lives in Napili.


Cochran Hopes Auction Bid Will Save Honolua From Development


By Wendy Osher

A small parcel of kuleana land at Honolua Bay was put up for auction this week after Maui Land and Pineapple Company filed a quiet title lawsuit, claiming part ownership.

In a public auction on Wednesday, Council Member Elle Cochran and her husband Wayne entered a winning bid of $30,000 in an attempt to preserve the land and protect it from potential development.

Cochran, who was an original founder of the Save Honolua Coalition, said she would like to see it as a SHC parcel.  The two are in discussions to come up with a management plan and a plan for the organization to pay back whatever funds are expended at the auction.

“Hopefully that non-profit would manage and take care,” said Cochran.  “We definitely want to preserve it,” said Cochran, who expressed support for keeping the parcel in open space and conservation.  She said she would not be opposed to having a hale built to teach what the ahupua’a or ocean is about.

Honolua parcel, courtesy photo.

Meantime, the Save Honolua Coalition is coming up with a management plan that involves the makai watch, watershed, and ahupua’a management.  SHC director, John Carty who was on hand for the auction said, “The 9,000 square-foot piece of land is a symbolic and powerful beginning point for the community. The coalition will raise money and work with the Cochran’s to form the smallest land trust in Hawaii while vowing to make it the largest land trust by saving what is left of the Honolua ahupua’a.”

He said, “The Cohcran’s are hard working people who were forced to spend a lot of money for an important piece.  They have always been at the forefront of saving Honolulua and today they really put their money where their mouth is.”

The Save Hoonolua Coalition has established a fund with any donations at this time going toward the purchase of the Honolua parcel.  The group has already started raising funds for pledges towards the purchase and ask anyone who would like to contribute to do so by emailing kokua@savehonolua.org.

Honolua parcel, courtesy photo.

The 0.217 acre lot of vacant land is located near Honolua Bay with access easement to and from the Honoapiilani Highway.  The assessed value of the property was last listed at $3,800, and the market value was $377,500.

Maui Land and Pineapple Company is among a list other parties who claim part ownership of the parcel.   The land manager and company CFO of ML&P were among those in attendance at Wednesday’s auction.  A request for comment on Friday was not returned in time for publication, however those familiar with the case say the company may have had their own plans for conservation as well, but we were unable to confirm those assertions.

The parcel became the center of another lawsuit several years ago when members of one family claiming part ownership were challenged in court for charging visitors a fee to cross the property.  The case ended when it was determined that the parcel was not a public access point.

Cochran said she hopes to look into the laws to protect kuleana lands from forced sales in the future.  “It’s not right because once they (ML&P) got their foot in the door, they got the process underway.  The final outcome was forcing the sale.  Lineal descendants could not afford to pay for their ancestral home, or protect the property from auction regardless of how big or small their share,” said Cochran.

“This is an example of how important Honolua is to the community and a reminder to potential commercial interests of how the community will always rise up to defend Honolua from development,” said Carty.

Honolua land’s top bid comes from Cochrans


January 29, 2012
By ILIMA LOOMIS - Staff Writer (iloomis@mauinews.com) , The Maui News
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WAILUKU - Maui County Council Member Elle Cochran and her husband, Wayne, “put their money where their mouth is” last week to help preserve an embattled parcel of land in Honolua.

The Cochrans outbid Maui Land & Pineapple Co. in a partition sale Wednesday at the Hoapili Hale courthouse in Wailuku, winning the auction with a $30,000 bid for the 9,471-square-foot vacant lot located near the shoreline of Honolua Bay. Elle Cochran said she hopes to work with the Save Honolua Coalition to acquire the property or put it in a trust to be cared for and preserved.

“We definitely work hand in hand and want to come together for the best interests of the area, and we’ll see how we can work that out,” she said.

ML&P President and Chief Operating Officer Ryan Churchill declined to comment.

The sale of the property will not be final until a confirmation hearing, which is expected to be scheduled sometime in the next several weeks. However, ML&P or another interested buyer could potentially reopen the bidding at that time, by making an offer of at least 5 percent over the last bid.

Wednesday’s sale was the result of a quiet title lawsuit filed by ML&P in 2006 to assert its claim as part-owner of the property. The years of court proceedings that followed established that the parcel actually had at least 68 owners, many of them descendants of the original owners of the kuleana land.

The court found that ML&P owned two 1/192nds of a share, while the Cochrans owned 1/28th of a share.

Zoned in a conservation district, and lacking any public utilities, the parcel is unlikely to see development. The lot is also landlocked, but during proceedings, the court ordered neighboring landowners to provide an access easement.

Several years ago, the land was the scene of controversy when members of one family claiming part ownership of the property set up camp and charged visitors a “donation” for crossing to the ocean. Narciso Billianor Jr. was initially convicted of obstructing access to public property, but the conviction was later overturned when an appeals court found that the path across the property was not a public right of way.

Cochran said the family had agreed to remove their belongings and leave the property.

Cochran said she and her husband did not set out to acquire the lot but decided to go to Wednesday’s auction “just to see what would happen.”

She said her husband participated in some of the early bidding, but when another interested buyer dropped out, the couple decided to keep bidding against ML&P.

“We wanted to be there to check it out and see how it was going,” Elle Cochran said. “I think in the end we did not want Maui Land & Pine to be the sole owners of it.”

While she was pleased to have prevailed in the auction, Cochran said she remained troubled by the partition process and was disappointed that Maui Land & Pine had triggered the sale by filing its quiet title lawsuit five years ago.

“We all felt this was so unfair,” Cochran said. “None of us wanted to sell - not any of the families, not myself and my husband. . . . They forced the sale on this property, and that’s how we ended up here today.”

She said it would be “wonderful” if the Save Honolua Coalition ended up owning or caring for the area.

“We know we want the same thing for the land,” Cochran said.

Save Honolua President Tamara Paltin agreed.

“It would be great if Save Honolua could be the land trust operators or owners,” Paltin said. “My vision for it would be to go right along with our mission statement - maintain it as open space, maintain public access, and maintain it to perpetuate Hawaiian culture and revitalize the ecosystem of Honolua.”

Possible uses for the land could include installing a small “Makai Watch” booth, where volunteers could provide visitors with information about safety, etiquette and protecting the area’s sensitive environment.

She said the coalition might also consider using the lot to relocate the portable toilets it provides at the park, and installing a small box to collect donations to help fund the toilets.

The parcel might be a more convenient location for the toilets, which are currently located near the highway.

“I still see some people using the bathroom in the bushes because it’s too far,” Paltin said. “If they see the port-a-potty right there, maybe they won’t go in the bushes or in the water, and it’ll be more sanitary.”

She noted that an estimated 800 people per day visit Honolua, most of them passing by the parcel to access the park.

“There’s so much possibilities, even though it’s such a small piece of land, because of all the traffic that goes back and forth,” Paltin said.

Save Honolua Acting Secretary John Carty said the auction showed Honolua’s importance to the community. He also hoped his organization would be able to help manage the site in a trust.

“When it’s so important to everyone, it shouldn’t be left to just two individuals to save Honolua,” he said. “To me, it’s a sad story that a sacred piece of land like this could be forced to auction by a minority interest, but it has a happy ending thanks to Wayne and Elle. They really put their money where their mouth is on this one.”

Save Honolua Coalition has established a land-acquisition fund to help purchase the parcel. One donor has already pledged $15,000, Paltin said.

“We’re well on our way,” Paltin said.

For information about making a donation, call Paltin at 870-0052 or send email to kokua@savehonolua.org.

ACTION ALERT - Save an Important Piece of Land in Honolua from Private or Commercial Development

A rare opportunity to protect a small parcel of conservation land at Honolua Marine Life Conservation District has come up with a fast approaching deadline to act. The Save Honolua Coalition would like to protect this land for future generations from private and/or commercial development but we need your help to raise the necessary funds our goal is to raise at least $50,000 by January 25, 2012 all monies donated between now and January 25, 2012 will go into a special fund to purchase and/or manage lands at Honolua.  This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to really help save Honolua please if you can donate now. For more info contact kokua@savehonolua.org .
Save Honolua Coalition
Board of Directors