Molokai wins first two games at Little League tournament

Molokai completed its run in the District 3 Little League Tournament Monday with an 8-0 loss to Central East in the Majors Division for 11-and-12 year olds.

The Molokai team had advanced to the game at the War Memorial Little League Fields by defeating Lanai and Upcountry Maui on Saturday. Molokai defeated Lanai under the 10-run mercy rule, 10-0. In the next game, Molokai barely defeated Upcountry Maui 4-3.

After defeating Molokai, Central East Maui defeated Kihei in the championship game yesterday by a score of 10-2. The state Little League tournament begins July 15 on Oahu.

If anyone in the community has details on the 11 and 12-year olds or the 13 and 14-year olds, please send information by email to or call 658-5181 — Mahalo!


New short-term rental law reviewed by Planning Commission

Staff planner Gina Flammer looks out at the audience while Maui County Planning Director William Spence testifies during today's Molokai Planning Commission meeting. On the right is Commissioner Lori Buchanan.

An ordinance designed to bring all Maui County short-term rentals into compliance received review today by the Molokai Planning Commission at its regular meeting.

Also known as Transient Vacation Rentals, or TVRs, these rental homes are now only allowed under an unwieldy conditional permitting process. Kip Dunbar is the only Molokai property owner who has successfully gone through this process. He now rents out two properties on the East End, the Pauwalu cottage and the Pu’unana cottage. Only 12 of these conditional permits have been issued countywide.

In a presentation to the MoPC, staff planner Gina Flammer from the Maui County Planning Department admitted that there is an “underground industry” of these rentals that needs to be regulated. A draft of this bill has been referred to all local planning commissions from the Maui County Council Planning Committee for review with a report due back by July 22.

In considering this bill, the county planning committee looked at the potential effect in the long-term housing market as well as the economic impact on tourism. They also considered the effect this will have on agriculturally-zoned land, which can be used for TVRs.

The new ordinance will require a sign in front of the property with the name and phone number of the on-island caretaker. Only one permit will be allowed per person with no corporate ownership allowed. Neighbors within 500 feet will be notified prior to an application hearing. While specific caps on the number of TVRs were set for the island of Maui, Lanai and Molokai will be allowed to set their own limits.

Rules specific to just Molokai in this ordinance include a maximum of three bedrooms in the rental home and permit renewals of only one year. Based on the recently adopted bed & breakfast ordinance, this bill attempts to maintain the character of the neighborhood while also allowing carefully regulated TVRs. On Molokai, the MoPC will be empowered to approve every TVR permit application, regardless of whether the property is in a Special Management Area or not.

“I can’t emphasize how important it is to review each permit on a case-by-case basis,” said Flammer during her presentation.

Letters of support for this bill were submitted from Molokai residents Cheryl Corbiell and Shirley Alapa. Testifying in favor of the new bill was Dayna Harris from Molokai Vacation Rentals who said she had a letter of support with 114 names on it.

Another local resident in the real estate business, Susan Savage from Friendly Isle Realty, testified in opposition to the new law. “Any economic benefit is not worth losing sleep in your neighborhood over,” she said.

Savage, along with several planning commissioners, raised concerns over the lack of enforcement that exists on Molokai.

Commissioner Lori Buchanan discussed the problems of enforcement and parking. “You are putting the cart before the horse. The way it’s written it is self-enforcing and it’s not my job to enforce my neighbors,” she said.

Buchanan pointed to many issues, including cultural, that need to be studied before this bill should go forward. “Without a subcommittee (to study this issue) I would be hard pressed to support this bill.”

DeGray Vanderbilt testified that many of the issues were studied by the MoPC in 2006 and 2008 when he served as a commissioner and recommendations were made to the county. “We recommended a denial until this could be reviewed as part of the (Molokai) Community Plan.” Vanderbilt also questioned why this is only now coming before the MoPC when the county council approved the bill on March 24.

County Planning Director William Spence attended today’s meeting. If this bill is put off until after the Molokai Community Plan is adopted, he said, it will be many years before rules can enacted. Spence said if the MoPC does not approve this bill the Maui County Council will have the option to exclude Molokai from these rules. The conditional permitting rules will stay in place if Molokai bows out, said Spence.

Vice Chairperson of the MoPC, John Sprinzel, said that he operated rental properties in Kailua, Oahu in the 1980s that worked well with few complaints. The difference, said Sprinzel, is that “they had great supervision. Here you don’t have it. Now is not the time to pass this.”

“I will be the first to admit that enforcement (on Molokai) lacks,” said Spence. He went on to explain the process of warnings and fines that take place for a property found in violation.

Commissioner Zhantell Dudoit suggested using a portion of the Transient Accomodation Tax (TAT) to help pay for enforcement. Dudoit, like Buchanan, said she was also concerned about the cultural issues not addressed in the bill.

The MoPC voted to defer this issue until the next meeting when the county can better address its concerns. These included concerns over possible corporate loopholes (that would allow a company to own several TVR properties ), enforcement and parking issues and water and land appropriation issues. The commissioners also asked the planning department to include and consider the extensive comments submitted in 2006 and 2008 on this issue.

Comments on this proposed ordinance can be emailed to Flammer at or by mail to Maui County Department of Planning, 250 South High St., Wailuku, HI 96793.

Seven years and 300 ukuleles later, KoAloha continues to support local youth

Kids and parents are eager to get started on the ukulele-building workshop. This group at Kuanakakai Elementary made record time in completing their instruments.

Declining budgets, combined with an increased emphasis on science and math education, have put music on the backburner for most schools.

But music will always play an important role on Molokai. Walk down the hallways of any Molokai school during passing periods and you can hear the echoes of a strummed ukulele or the chorus of a popular mele.

One company, KoAloha Ukulele, has never forgotten the importance of bringing musical instruments to our keiki. The Honolulu company recently completed its eighth visit to Molokai to offer free ukulele kits and building instructions for local youth. Alan Okami of KoAloha estimates that they have built over 300 instruments on Molokai over the past seven years.

When the KoAloha crew visited Kaunakakai Elementary in May, they were greeted with a packed and enthusiastic audience. While they received some Kaunakakai Elementary grant funds after the sixth year, the expenses are primarily subsidized by KoAloha.

The program began seven years ago when Josh Adachi from the Molokai Youth Center contacted KoAloha. It began as a request for instruction on building ukes and soon turned into a total effort including the kits and labor.

Okami calls the Molokai visit the most important trip they take each year. KoAloha promotes similar efforts at school across Oahu and on other islands. “This is an important part of what we do,” said Okami.

Hotel Molokai and its General Manager Michael Drew have been strong supporters of the program, providing lodging to the group. “He has been an angel to us,” said Okami.

When they arrive, KoAloha encourages parents to join their children during the building process. With a new ukulele typically costing several hundred dollars, this is understandably an emotional experience for all involved.

“We’ve seen years where there is not a dry eye in the house at the completion. We’ve had more party type receptions as well,” said Okami. “No matter what response, it’s always magical. All of my men walk away with the feeling that we actually receive more than we brought with us. One of my former workers, that refused to show any emotions with others, was taken and fought with all his might to hold back his tears. It’s simply amazing.”

According to Okami, there is no end in sight for this program. “We’ll be back every year, as long as Molokai will have us,” said Okami.

KoAloha has never sought publicity for its efforts. But Okami said they are beginning to reach out to communities to expand this program. “As others learn of what we do as a small and insignificant company, we hope that it will serve as inspiration for their activation in their respective communities.”

Okami now writes a blog called Kaleo O Kalihi for the Star-Advertiser newspaper to help show some of the community outreach efforts, and the fun, that takes place at KoAloha Ukulele.

The popularity of the program has expanded to now include three ukulele builds on the Big Island and even some builds among the Inuit tribes in Alaska.

KoAloha has not forgotten its neighbors abroad and plans to undertake uke building projects in Korea and Japan. They hope to be able to reach out to orphans in the Tohoku area of Japan that was hit by the recent tsunami catastrophe.

So why does KoAloha continue with these building projects despite the lack of monetary reward and little publicity?

“We do what we can, sharing of what we make,” said Okami. “It is the fruit of our land and we offer it to Akua. He is the one that makes it grow.”

Ko Molokai Keiki O Ke Kai Summer Surf meet holds second event

This 6-and-under surfing competitor made it look easy at Waialua on Saturday.

That thrill of catching your first wave could be seen on the faces of some of the competitors on Saturday at the second Ko Molokai Keiki O Ke Kai Summer Surf meet of the season.

For other keiki surfers, this was just another day at the beach. The more experienced keiki could be seen walking their boards, going switch foot and even carving the small yet consistent surf at Waialua Beach 19 miles east.

Those keiki in the 9-and-10-year old division and younger were helped into the wave with a little push start from parents and volunteers. Those in the 11-and-12 age group paddled in themselves.

These two surfers in the 11-and-12-year old division take off on the same wave.

The ‘ohana from Waialua open up the neighborhood for the keiki surfers each year for the event. This is the 22nd year of the event sponsored by the local groups Ko Molokai Keiki O Ke Kai and the Friendly Isle United Fund.

The first event in the summer series was held two weeks ago. The final event will be July 9. Registration opens at 9:30 a.m. with the meet starting at 10 a.m. An awards ceremony and potluck pa’ina will be held afterward.

Here are the complete results of the first two events:

Pacific Voyagers enter Kaunakakai Harbor for historic meeting between Polynesian brothers and sisters

The first vaka to enter Kaunakakai Harbor yesterday.

A Te Mana o Te Moana voyager receives the traditional 'ha' greeting during Thursday's welcoming.

This historic event can be best experienced through these videos:
First vaka entering Kaunakakai Harbor
Lei greeting for Pacific Voyagers
Pacific Voyagers greeting protocol

It has taken 35 years for Tahitian sailing canoes to visit Hawaii. Yesterday it was Molokai’s turn to say “Aloha!”

Molokai showed its appreciation of this historic meeting of Polynesian cultures by turning out en mass for the seven sailing canoes, or vaka moanas, that entered Kaunakakai Harbor.

Showing the true aloha spirit of Molokai were local kupuna, kumus and students in traditional Hawaiian regalia. As each double-hulled canoe tied off on the wharf, Molokai High School ike Hawaii teacher Ghandi Ross split coconuts and offered them to the crews.

Ghandi Ross greets Tahitian crew with a freshly cracked coconut.

The island communities of Aotearoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, and Tahiti were each represented with their own vaka and crew. Two vaka were crewed by people from Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu.

(Click on “More Molokai Photos” in the left column to see additional photos from yesterday on the Flickr photostream.)

After students from Molokai’s Hawaiian Language Immersion Programs chanted a traditional greeting to the Pacific Voyagers, Kumu Anakala Pilipo Solatorio came forward with the traditional greeting protocol for Molokai including the presentation of a hookupu, or gift, to the crews of the sailing canoes that ventured from Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas Islands to Hawaii in 12 days.

kupuna and students warmly greeted the Pacific Voyagers.

The Te Mana o Te Moana voyage was originally scheduled to sail from Hilo directly to Oahu. Fortunately, the expedition detoured to Maui and Molokai.

“It was truly a blessing to have visited Maui and Molokai. These islands and their communities are so different from each other but they bring an added dimension of understanding to the experience of our voyage,” wrote one of the crew members.

“It is during times like these that you understand the true sense of community and how our Hawaiian brothers and sisters went beyond the call to make us feel so special and so appreciated.”

Dedicated to raising environmental and cultural awareness of issues affecting the Pacific Ocean, the members of the Te Mana o Te Moana voyage will attend The Kava Bowl Ocean Summit 2011 this week on Oahu.

Message to Pattern Energy: ‘No Big Wind on Molokai!’

Kanoho Helm greets and signs up people to join the group I Aloha Molokai in their efforts to stop Big Wind.

If there was any doubt whether or not Molokai residents want to be part of the largest wind power development in Hawaii history, last night’s meeting at the Mitchell Pau’ole Center was pretty conclusive: NOT!

This bumper sticker could be seen on vehicles outside the Mitchell Pau'ole Center last night.

The meeting was the second of three meetings this week organized by Pattern Energy and Biological Capital, which have recently formed the exploratory group Molokai Renewables LLC to study the feasibility of bringing a 200-megawatt wind turbine generating project to Molokai.

The community attitude toward this group of wind developers was perhaps best summed up by Kanohowailuku Helm, one of the organizers of the opposition group I Aloha Moloka’i (IAM): “Just go!”

The passionate emotions and frustrations felt by those opposed to this project came to the surface in shout outs that threatened any order to the meeting. Exclamations of, “stop lying!”, “speak clearly!” and “what about ‘no’ don’t you understand!” were heard when the audience was not satisfied with a given explanation.

A central question that led to the numerous outbursts involved the true intentions of Pattern Energy. The question: Would Pattern Energy recommend to the State of Hawaii an alternative to Big Wind if they determined that the Molokai community overwhelmingly opposed the project? “Listen to OUR truth,” implored the questioner.

After much equivocating, a representative of Pattern Energy said, “If the community doesn’t support this it will not happen.” This answer was met with boisterous applause.

Intended as a question-and-answer meeting, the Pattern Energy people had a hard time providing answers that satisfied the audience. Unanswered questions regarding costs, carrying capacity of the undersea transmission cable, and the community benefits package just led to further frustration.

“We simply don’t know,” admitted one Pattern Energy rep when questioned about how much electricity could be attained from a 200-mw project. Pattern Energy offered what they called “reasonable estimates” of 40 percent energy loss, with an additional 5 percent lost in transmission. Molokai would therefore generate 650-mw of energy for Oahu, Pattern estimated.

These figures were roundly disputed by many, including longtime Molokai resident Michael Bond, who said he has spent 30 years in the energy development business. He is now an active member of IAM. “They will be lucky to get 20 percent (capacity factor),” said Bond. He cited output figures of 19 to 24 percent carrying capacity from projects in the United Kingdom.

Bond also explained how the intermittent nature of a wind-powered generating plant requires oil as a backup, defeating the purpose of this project, to get Hawaii off its dependence on fossil fuels.

Federal tax write-offs and subsidies to help pay for the estimated $2.3 billion cost of this project also infuriated audience members.

“Why put money in this if it’s never been profitable in Hawaii?” asked Molokai resident Cheryl Corbiel. “Where is the study showing that wind is appropriate for Molokai?” Corbiel inquired. “There really is no study of the cost/benefit for this project,” she added.

Pattern Energy referred to an independent study by Navigant Consulting as a source for much of their information. At the same time, company reps freely admitted that more data is needed and will be acquired, largely in the form of meteorological tower studies on Molokai. It will take one year to collect met tower data before any project can even be proposed.

Executive Vice President Robbie Alm of Hawaii Electric Company discussed the Power Purchase Agreement, how the community benefits package for Molokai would be negotiated and the efforts of HECO to seek alternative renewable energy sources. Behind him is Pattern Energy representative Christian (no last name provided).

Concerns over the environmental impact to the reefs and the land also led to more infuriation from Molokai kama’aina.

Robbie Alm, executive vice president of Hawaii Electric Company, was the only person in attendance representing a party to this project outside of Pattern Energy. While he would not express his own opinion of the project’s viability, he did discuss HECO’s mandate to reduce Hawaii’s dependence on fossil fuels by 70 percent by the year 2030.

“There have been objections from the public to every energy project ever put forward,” said Alm.

Alm went on to say that HECO is looking at a wide variety of clean, renewable energy sources including biofuels, geothermal, biomass and solar. “We are not saying ‘no’ to anything,” he said.

When questioned about the 15 percent renewable energy penetration limit that has been reached on the Kaunakakai circuit, Alm said a new report on this problem will be issued by HECO in July. At this time no new solar energy projects can be installed because of the potential instability this could cause the power grid.

Colette Machado, chairperson for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, said that the State of Hawaii, not OHA, will decide if wind farms can be built on Hawaiian ceded lands. She did add that the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has publicly stated its policy of no wind farms on homestead land. Personally, Machado said, “I can’t see us (Molokai) being an industrial wasteland for Oahu.”

Others spoke about Oahu needing to take a greater role in energy conservation and in providing its own solutions for feeding its energy appetite.

“Oahu has an addiction to energy,” commented one audience member. “Unless we put a stop to this we are part of the problem. We are not helping them be sustainable (with this project).”

These posters from IAM show what they feel are the 'real' community benefits of this project.

The process for deciding the fate of Big Wind is still in the early stages. A preliminary Environmental Impact Statement has not even been drafted yet by the U.S. Department of Energy. Until this is completed in April of 2012, the feasibility of building an undersea transmission cable connecting Molokai and Lanai to Oahu, and possibly Maui, cannot be determined.

At this time, Molokai Renewables has an agreement with West End landowner Molokai Ranch that would allow them to lease the land needed for a wind farm if the project goes forward. They also have an agreement with Castle and Cooke to use 200-mw of its wind energy allocation for the project on Molokai. The project would have Pattern Energy sell back the generated electricity to HECO under a Power Purchase Agreement.

Pattern Energy reps repeatedly expressed their sincere belief in this project. “We also believe that this project could provide significant community benefits and economic opportunities for Molokai.”

Based on last night’s meeting, the company has a long way to go if they hope to change the hearts and minds of Molokai on this project.

The final meeting for this week will be tonight at Kilohana Elementary School at 6 p.m.

Molokai welcomes the Pacific Voyagers tomorrow

The call is out to all of Molokai to share its aloha tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. when the Pacific Voyagers arrive at the Kaunakakai Harbor after sailing across the Pacific.

Traveling in seven sailing voyaging canoes, or vaka moanas, the Pacific Voyagers left Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas Islands on June 4. After 12 days at sea, using only the stars and the ocean to navigate, they arrived in Hilo last Thursday. A small ceremony was held before the grand welcoming ceremony on Sunday.

Now Molokai will have its own welcoming ceremony to honor the Navigators message of cultural and environmental responsibility.

“We’re sailing across the Pacific to renew our ties to the sea and its life-sustaining strength,” state the Voyagers. “The ocean is the origin of life, and it continues to give us air to breathe, fish to eat, and nourishes our soul as well. As threatened as the ocean is now, however, it soon can no longer provide us with these essential life services.

“Sailing together, we seek the wisdom of our ancestors and the knowledge of scientists to keep the Pacific healthy and give our grandchildren a future.”

The voyage, named Te Mana o Te Moana or “The Spirit of the Sea,” aims to “contribute to the wisdom of the Polynesian ancestors who loved and respected the sea.”

The Pacific Voyagers will spread this message when they attend a scientific meeting addressing the costs which ocean climate change will have for us all. The Kava Bowl Ocean Summit 2011 will be held in Hawaii at the end of June.

The ongoing journey will then continue to North America and further to meet different people, including students, to inform them of the outcome of the conference and of the alarming changes happening in the Pacific Ocean.

In a statement that can be found on their website, the crew speaks about their responsibilities:

“We honor our canoes of a new type, we honor those who participated the revival of traditional navigation in the wake of Hokule’a, Hawaiki Nui o Te au o Tonga, and Hawaii Loa Makali’i, Te aurere. This is the first time that so many people of the great ocean come together to convey a message, that of protecting our common heritage: the Pacific Ocean ‘Te Moana Nui Hiva.’ To end commercial over fishing, pollution and the killing of protected animals. A shout to the world so that the ocean and its resources, both natural and cultural, are preserved for future generations, the ocean is the cradle of our civilization and the reason to live for millions of islanders.”