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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, February 25, 2006

Turn Mauna 'Ala over to Hawaiians

Mauna 'Ala, the final resting place for kings and queens of old Hawai'i, should not be allowed to fall into disrepair. Neither should it remain in the state's custody or on the taxpayer's tab on a permanent basis.

The Royal Mausoleum in Nu'uanu is a historic landmark and a legacy forced to compete for upkeep funds with other properties in the state parks system and it often comes up short. That is why state Senate Bill 1294 proposes that a dedicated share from the ceded land revenues be dedicated to that purpose.

This bill has merit, with caveats. One, cited by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and others, is that it is far too vague on which agency should manage these funds, how they should be allocated for maintenance, staffing and other factors. The Ways and Means Committee, fortunately, has postponed a vote until Tuesday, allowing needed time to flesh out the bill.

One other facet should change. As currently written, the bill specifies that the money come not from the share of ceded land revenues that benefit Hawaiians, but from the roughly 80 percent that support the state's other social needs. Instead, the property rightfully should pass from state parks control to OHA, which should maintain it with its own revenue.

If a Native Hawaiian political entity is organized later, title finally could pass to that body, which would most logically inherit the rights and the cost of this important site.