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Native Hawaiian men stake claim to abandoned Kauai hotel property

May 19, 2017 - 9:08am

LIHUE (AP) — A judge has decided not to forcibly remove a couple of Native Hawaiian men from an abandoned hotel property on the island of Kauai.

The two men have staked their claim to the property that they say is theirs through royal patent. The men claim they own the land as descendants of Kauai’s last ruler.

According to the prosecuting attorney, however, Coco Palms owns the property. The state filed the motion to remove the men, claiming they have been trespassing since March 2017.

“According to the tax map key, which is maintained by the state and the county of Kauai, it does list the properties are owned by Coco Palms Hui LLC,” said Ashley Uyeno-Lee, district prosecuting attorney.

The tax map can have inaccuracies, though, Judge Michael Soong said.

“There are transactions that occur that are not updated immediately,” Soong said.

Noa Mau-Espirito, one of the men who have been staying on the property, told the court the motion would be a violation.

“In order for that to happen, title over the property would have to be confirmed,” he said. “This court is a limited court to decide title issue in Hawaii. In order for that to be legal, we need to clear the title issue. The title of issue would have to be confirmed first before they can ex parte me from the property.”

Soong said if he approved the motion to remove the men, then he would have been skipping the civil process of proving property ownership. He said the proper course of action would be for the complainants to file a civil ejectment action.

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