No Hawaiians. No aloha.
That was the warning issued by Hawaiian leaders yesterday as they discussed preparations for a legal battle against an effort to abolish the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and Native gathering rights on private property.
If Hawaiians lose federal challenges filed by Honolulu resident Patrick Barrett and former state lawmaker John Carroll, the fallout could hurt Hawaiis economy, said OHA vice chairman Donald Cataluna.
"Lets say we lose, and we have to follow the white mans law," Cataluna said. "Two hundred thousand Hawaiians say no more aloha, no more canoes and surfboards at Waikiki. ... What happens to tourism? It would be an economic fiasco."
Cataluna was among more than a dozen speakers gathered at OHA headquarters yesterday to encourage public support and appreciation for contributions of Hawaiians.
Though the case will be decided by the courts, the issue strikes at the heart and soul of Hawaii, speakers said.
On March 12, U.S. District Judge David Ezra will hear a request for a preliminary injunction to halt operations at those agencies on grounds that they violate the ban on race-based restrictions upheld by the Constitution.
Barrett filed a lawsuit last October challenging Article 12 of the Hawaii state constitution. The section established OHA, adopted the federal Hawaiian Homes Commission Act and laid the foundation for native gathering rights on private property.
Meanwhile, Carroll filed a lawsuit claiming that OHA money is used for racially discriminatory purposes. Both lawsuits have been consolidated into one case.
Last month, OHA, the state Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations and the Ilioulaokalani Coalition of cultural practitioners won the right to intervene in the case.
The state Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations has $600,000 to spend on legal fees. OHA trustees have allocated an initial $200,000 for their legal defense effort, but will spend "as much as it takes," said trustee Oswald Stender.
The Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation is asking native gatherers and practitioners to provide affidavits for the case. For more information, call Mahealani Kamau at 521-2302.