Traditional and customary native Hawaiian rights and historic preservation are important and potentially impactful issues in Hawai‘i.
Hawai‘i law protects the traditional and customary rights of native Hawaiians on less than fully developed private land and concomitantly limits certain rights of private landowners. Traditional and customary rights are those practices exercised for subsistence, culture, and religious purposes and are possessed by ahupua‘a (traditional Hawaiian land subdivisions) tenants who are descendants of native Hawaiians who inhabited the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1778, subject to reasonable regulation.
Historical properties, both pre-and post-western contact, including burials, heiau, home and agricultural sites, and other archaeological and historical sites, are protected through Hawai‘i Revised Statutes chapter 6E and other state and county laws. The agency primarily responsible for managing impacts to historical sites is the State Historic Preservation Division.
We believe that taking responsibility for preserving the cultural history and historical and cultural resources of the land are important components of land ownership in Hawai‘i and enhance landowners’ appreciation of the land and the community.
What We Do
- Advising on Traditional and Customary Native Hawaiian Rights
- Kuleana Access Agreements
- Working with Archaeologists, Cultural Advisors and Practitioners, the State Historic Preservation Division, and Other State and County Agencies
- Securing Land Use and Development Approvals
- Site Inspections and Direct Community Engagement
Our attorneys have decades of experience helping clients to navigate the factual and legal complexities regarding traditional and customary native Hawaiian rights and issues regarding historic preservation, including:
- Advising on traditional and customary native Hawaiian rights, which includes evaluating the effect of traditional and customary native Hawaiian rights in land use and development proceedings, agreements governing the exercise of traditional and customary native Hawaiian practices, and assisting clients in finding the balance between the exercise of traditional and customary rights and appropriate protection of personal privacy and property rights.
- Kuleana Access Agreements.
- Working with archaeologists, cultural advisors and practitioners, the State Historic Preservation Division, and other state and county agencies to identify and responsibly address historical and cultural properties that could be affected by development and land use.
- Securing land use and development approvals that require an evaluation and potential protection of traditional and customary practices and the identification and potential preservation of historical and cultural properties.
- Site inspections and direct community engagement.
- Working with the State Historic Preservation Division, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Land Use Commission, the Commission on Water Resource Management, and other state and county agencies to obtain permits and approvals that require the evaluation and potential protection of traditional and customary practices and the identification and potential preservation of historical and cultural properties through archaeological inventory surveys, historic resource preservation plans, and other necessary approvals.
- Assisting landowners, including single-family homeowners, with securing permits and approvals to construct or renovate their property after the discovery of burials on their property.