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Hale Pai
Pacific American-News Journal

Mei-May 1996 Volume 2 Issue 5

A Response to Prime Time Live

Dear Sam Donaldson
77 W. 66th St.
New York, NY. 10023

Waimanalo Ray
Hale Pai
Pacific American News Journal
3600 15th Ave Suite 2060
Seattle, WA. 981190

April 10, 1996

Dear Mr. Donaldson,

I always felt that your reporting has been fair and complete. However, I take issue with your piece "In the Name of Charity" and the Bishop Estate. Your report on the Bishop Estate was biased, misleading, and gave a typical Western view of Hawai`i. As a graduate of Kamehameha Schools, I found your portrayal of the Bishop Estate as a money-hungry machine which is unwilling to help people of Hawaiian ancestry, to be very far from the truth. To imply that the Estate is trying to defraud the U.S. Government of taxes is a blatant lie. To use Haunani-Kay Trask as a spokesperson for the Hawaiian people to make the point that the Estate is not trying to educate the Hawaiians (required by the will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop) is irresponsible as Ms. Trask is a recognized radical and does not speak for the Hawaiians. You at least, could have pronounced her name correctly.

I would like to point out some facts that were omitted from your program. Bishop Estate does own some property on Waikiki and also on various locations throughout the Islands, and yes, also some prime real estate on the mainland. However, you failed to mention that the State of Hawai`i and various organizations are trying to take away land that was willed by Princess Pauahi, the last remaining descendent of King Kamehameha. The Estate has been trying for years to keep Hawaiian lands in Hawaiian hands. If people keep taking away the land, what will be left for the Hawaiian children of the future?

The prized beach front land does generate millions in rent. According to your report, the Bishop Estate owns only 16 acres in Waikiki. Are there only 16 acres in Waikiki? Who owns the rest? The Japanese, foreign investors, are they paying taxes? Are there other non-profit organizations that own land in Waikiki?

Perhaps it would be more worthwhile to look at the wasteful use of our tax dollars such as buying $600 toilet bowls and $1200 hammers. Do we need more tax dollars for our fact finding missions by our nations elected officials along with their spouses to exotic places throughout the world? Forgive my ignorance, but this seems like a paid vacation by tax payers.

Yes, the Bishop Estate does own 367,000 acres of land throughout the Hawaiian Islands. This is down from 434,300 acres that was left in perpetual trust in 1884! This is Hawaiian Land owned by the Hawaiian people in trust. Now this is in Hawaiian hands, but for how long? When reporters like yourself only tell half the story to increase ratings, politicians serving special interest groups find it easier to take land from the Bishop Estate. In 1967 the state Legislature passed a "Land Reform Act" enabling the state to force Native Hawaiian trusts and other private landowners to sell the leased fee interest in single-family properties to largely non-Hawaiian private lessees. On May 30, 1984 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states have the power to determine a local purpose, thus upholding the Land Reform Act. Since 1984 many lessees who have purchased their fee from Bishop Estate have turned around and sold the property for windfall profits within months. Bishop Estate has lost an estimated $2 billion dollars since then. And in 1991 the Honolulu City Council passed a mandatory conversion bill enabling the city to force Native Hawaiian trusts and other private landowners to sell the leased fee interest in multi-family properties, again to largely non-Hawaiian private lessees. The estate generates 98% of its income from 2% of its land; 97% of the Estate is in conservation and agricultural lands. With the continual assault on Bishop Estate, I can see why they must go elsewhere to continue with the trust that was left by Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop.

You failed to mention that Haunani-Kay Trask received her elementary and secondary education at Kamehameha Schools, and that she has her own special agenda. And I know that education helped form who Ms. Trask is today. To rebut Ms. Trask's opinion: The Estate has money and they choose to use it wisely to defend and insure that Pauahi's legacy continues so that our children and our children's children will receive an education. Kamehameha Schools also provides a comprehensive, kindergarten through college, financial aid. The financial aid department has two major purposes:

  1. to make sure that no student would be denied entrance to Kamehameha because of financial need;
  2. to provide financial assistance to graduates needing help in order to continue their education at an institution of their choice.

The Schools do only educate approximately 3000 full time students from kindergarten to grade 12 high in the hills above Honolulu. Those students are expected to maintain the highest possible level of academic achievement, and to observe the rights of others. And all these students are expected to follow a code of conduct based on respect, responsibility, honesty, fairness, tolerance, self-discipline, cooperation and courage. But you failed to mentioned all of the outreach programs of the Estate. These reach approximately 40,000 students on Oahu and the neighboring Islands, and no one who wants to participate is turned away. The Estate is also building four elementary schools on the outer islands and two on Oahu for grades one through six. If the school was to educate on the Kapalama Height campus all Hawaiian students as Representative Thealand suggests, this would be totally unrealistic (24,000 students). You would need more infrastructure and this would deplete the Estate's resources. That would not be a sound business decision, let alone giving the children a sound education. Kamehameha Schools also provides programs for Hawaiian students who live out of state. In order to get into Harvard you must have a high level of academic achievement let alone money. Does Harvard accept more than one out of eight applicants?

I told Mr. Jervis last year when some of the trustees were in Seattle, that I really don't care how much money they make as long as they continue the will and legacy of the Estate. Their combined income was less than Lee Iaccoca made at Chrysler running approximately the same size business. The trustees combined income is less than most C.E.O.s of businesses of comparable size. These C.E.O.s don't have the added burden of holding and insuring that the trust is held in perpetuity. The trustees do make a large amount of money and they still make less than other directors at other non-profit organizations in the State of Hawaii and throughout the country. If the pay was cut to $30,000 a year for each trustee, would that insure the schools would be able to continue? (I'm sure some critics would like to see the Bishop Estate disappear.)

The biggest and most glaring thing that was overlooked was the great wisdom and decision that Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop had to devise a perpetual trust that has withstood the test of time. She wrote this well before the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian nation by American businessman which was backed by the U.S. military in 1893. And well before income tax was enacted.

Have you ever stopped to wonder what happened to the Kings and Queens of Hawai`i? Did they one day decide to hand over their land and people (hui kanaka) to the U.S. GOVERNMENT? Why does Hawai`i have a palace when none of the other states have a palace? Of course, none of these questions are addressed in today's history classes. Maybe this would have been a more appropriate agenda to address, but probably would not drive your ratings and probably wouldn't re-elect Representative Thealand. And big business wouldn't like the idea of the rape and pillage of our `šina, Hawai`i, becoming front page news.

Is this a Western view of Hawaiians? Next month the University of Washington is hosting a leadership conference for Pacific Americans and Pacific Islanders here in Seattle. However they weren't able to find any local leaders in the Hawaiian community (there are many). They did manage to contact this newspaper (Hale Pai). When the question was asked why is no Hawaiians were on the agenda some names were mentioned. They are from Hawai`i but they are Samoans and Japanese, and not kanaka maoli's, who can discuss the sovereignty issue. The response to us was: "we have hula dancers coming....."

Mr. Donaldson I hope you have the courage and fairness to respond to this open letter, Your response will not be edited as your program was to drive our ratings.


Waimanalo Ray

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