Pacific Wings fights subsidized service to Kalaupapa

Less than a month after losing its federal contract to provide air service to Kalaupapa, Pacific Wings has filed a petition with the Federal Aviation Administration to reconsider awarding the route to Makani Kai Air Charters.

Makani Air Charters will begin flying its Cessna Grand Caravans daily to Kaulapapa after receiving a federal subsidy for its service.

In a report in The Maui News, Pacific Wings claims that the calculations used to establish a federal subsidy of almost $2 million were both wrong in their arithmetic and far above the allowable profit margin, which is 5 percent.

On Nov. 22, Hawaii U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye announced that U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood had fulfilled his promise to provide improved air service for the people of Kalaupapa.

The federal Essential Air Service (EAS) subsidy will allow the charter service to offer daily flights to Kalaupapa at highly reduced rates. Pacific Wings, the only carrier to offer scheduled flights to Kalaupapa since 2000, charges one-way rates of $244 to topside Molokai or $248 to Honolulu.

According to The Maui News story, Pacific Wings President Greg Kahlstorf said his fares were similar to those of other airlines on similar routes; the EAS subsidy law specifically disallows a subsidy for a route already served by a scheduled carrier; and there is no established way to rate whether fares are excessive.


Third monk seal found dead yesterday

The Department of Land and Natural Resources has reported a third monk seal found dead on Molokai.

The Hawaiian Monk Seal Ho'ailona, formerly known as KP2, at the Kaunakakai Wharf. A third monk seal was found dead on Molokai yesterday.

According to DLNR Deputy Director Guy Kaulukukui, the latest dead monk seal was discovered yesterday. This comes just one week after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported the suspicious deaths of two monk seals found on Molokai’s south shore within the past month and a half.

Necropsies on the first two dead monk seals indicated that, “foul play cannot be ruled out,” according to NOAA. A necropsy is being conducted this week on the third seal to determine the cause of death, according to Jeff Walters, Hawaiian monk seal recovery coordinator for NOAA.

These recent deaths come on the heels of NOAA’s attempts to expand the critical habitats for monk seals. This controversial proposal offers new rules that will protect beaches and coastal waters on all the main Hawaiian Islands and expand protected habitat in the Northwestern Islands. On Nov. 7, the NOAA Fisheries Service reopened the public comment period and extended it 60 days until Jan. 6.

Another NOAA monk seal initiative involves a recovery action plan. NOAA wants to consider bringing wild female pup monk seals from the Northwest Hawaiian Islands to live on the main Hawaiian Islands for three years to help the population recover.

Cable service interrupted on West End by rats

Rats chewing through Oceanic Time Warner Cable’s fiberoptic underground lines recently interrupted service for a week for about 140 customers on the West End of Molokai.

Rats enjoy eating through fiberoptic cables so much that they chewed through two different sections of underground cable on the West End.

According to Jill McGowan, West End Realtor and resident, Oceanic Cable had been giving customers the run around since Dec. 11. However, Oceanic General Manager for Maui County Rick Colletto, said service problems were first reported by customers Dec. 15 or 16.

“We have limited resources on Molokai,” said Colletto, explaining the delay in making the necessary repairs. Apparently, an Oceanic technician spliced the fibers together on Dec. 19 but the line failed again after this temporary fix.

Another Oceanic crew was dispatched from Maui on Dec. 20 and they found other areas that needed fiber splicing after rats had chewed through cables. Rat poison was placed around the new splices but service still did not work.

Colletto said this only solved the problem for about half of the customers. He said a small electronic device needed replacement and now at least 95 percent of the affected modems are working. Initially some of the modems did not accept the fixes. “We are in the midst of figuring this out ourselves,” said Colletto.

According to Colletto, a total of 140 modems in the Ke Nani Kai and Kaluakoi Villas condos were affected.

Delays with service occur on Molokai because of a lack of support staff to help the technicians on island. The number of subscribers does not justify additional support staff, said Colletto.

“We are always sorry when something like this happens and we try to make it right,” said Colletto.

Deaths of two monk seals on Molokai under investigation

Seal resting on Kepuhi Beach on West End. Two monk seals were found killed on Molokai in the past month under suspicious circumstances. Call NOAA OLE hotline at 1-800-853-1964 with information.

Public asked to contact enforcement officials with any information

Department of Land and Natural Resources News Release

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in cooperation with the Department of Land and Natural Resources, is investigating the deaths of two Hawaiian monk seals on the south shore of Molokai.

A young female was found dead this past week. This follows the death of an adult male seal in mid-November. Necropsies indicate that both seals appear to have died under suspicious circumstances and that foul play cannot be ruled out as the cause of death in either case.

“I was saddened to hear of these two incidents, especially the loss of a young female who would have helped restore the diminished seal population,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR Chairperson. “Monk seals are an important part of the Hawaiian ecosystem and need to be respected as a valued part of our natural and cultural environment. The harm to one is a blow to Hawaii,” he said.

In June 2010, the Legislature passed Act 165, specifically to increase penalties for taking (which is defined to include harassing or killing) a monk seal. It’s a Class C felony (up to five years imprisonment). Someone convicted under this law could face a fine of up to $50,000. It is also against federal law to kill or harm a Hawaiian monk seal.

Anyone having information related to these deaths should call the NOAA OLE hotline at 1-800-853-1964 or Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) at (808) 873-3990 or after hours call 643-DLNR.

Statement on death of Hawaiian Monk Seals

By Walter Ritte

The death of these Hawaiian Monk Seals on Molokai is an indication of a dangerous trend that must be stopped.

Our elders are saying that these seals are not Hawaiian.

Our young people are calling these seals an invasive species brought in by government.

The seals are now the easy targets of blame for the many ills of our depleting fisheries.

We need to stand up for the truth: These seals are not only Hawaiian, but have been here longer than the Hawaiians.

These seals are not invasive; they are like the Hawaiian people who are struggling to survive in their own lands. Hawaiians need to see themselves when they see a Hawaiian Monk Seal.

How we treat the seals, is how we can be expected to be treated as Hawaiians in Hawaii.

First Alternative Energy Festival planned for January

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs will help I Aloha Moloka’i with a $92,500 grant to support the first Alternative Energy Festival on Molokai Jan. 13 and 14.

Kanoho Helm signs up people to join the group I Aloha Molokai in their efforts to stop Big Wind. IAM will sponor Molokai's first Alternative Energy Festival Jan. 13 and 14.

The event, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Mitchell Pau’ole Center, will look at different ways to reduce Molokai’s dependence on fossil fuels. The grant money will be used to bring off-island speakers to Molokai as well as help with staging events.

I Aloha Moloka’i has been organizing local opposition to big wind power projects since late spring. In June, a mailer was sent to all Molokai residents and the website launched. The group has consistently fought the project to transmit 400-megawatts of wind-generated electricity from Lanai and Molokai to Oahu via an undersea cable.

The festival will feature saving energy workshops. Exhibitors and contractors will display energy saving devices. Information and strategies to help small businesses and homes will also be available. The event will also feature music, both local and off-island, food and kid booths.

For more information, call Cheryl Corbiell at 553-9009 or send email to

‘Aha Ki’ole lays groundwork for community-based tourism plan

Leaders and supporters of ‘Aha Ki’ole O Molokai at Mitchell Pau'ole Center last night. Back row, from left: Bill Aila (DLNR chair), Uncle Jimmy Duvauchelle, Joseph Kalipi (Maunaloa Moku), Wayde Lee (Pala'au Moku), Palmer Naki (Mana'e Moku), Kamalu Poepoe (Po'o Alaka'i), Mervin Dudoit (Kawela Moku); Front row, from left: Byron Espaniola (Maunaloa Moku), Davianna McGregor, Colette Machado (OHA chair), Aunty Vanda Hanakahi (Po'o), Kitty Simonds (Director Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council), Aunty Ruth Manu (Mana'e/North Shore Moku), (hidden person), Opu'ulani Albino (Culture and Arts representative).

In an attempt to reach out to all of Molokai, the ‘Aha Ki’ole O Molokai held an informational meeting last night at the Mitchell Pau’ole Center in its move toward gaining greater local control of cultural and natural resources.

Recent protests of a small-scale tourism operation
, American Safari Cruises, provided the impetus for the organizational efforts of the local ‘Aha. After the 145-foot yacht, the Safari Explorer, was blocked from entering Kaunakakai Harbor Nov. 26, ASC postponed two visits to Molokai in an effort to reach an agreement with the protestors. The company announced this week it will resume its regular tours of Molokai on Jan. 21, 2012.

‘Aha Ki’ole O Molokai stepped forward to offer community-based mediation on this issue. While several members of ‘Aha Ki’ole O Molokai participated in the protests, the local organization has gone to great lengths to separate itself from the protest group led by Walter Ritte and has emphasized its neutral position on the issue.

Molokai kupuna Aunty Vanda Hanakahi, state chair of the ‘Aha Ki’ole Advisory Committee, discussed the history of the ‘Aha system, a traditional cultural and natural resource management system that dates back to 700 A.D. Aunty Vanda said the system proved to be more successful on Molokai because, “our people had a kinship to the ‘aina; that’s what’s different between Molokai and the other islands.”

Kamalu Poepoe, second in charge of the ‘Aha Ki’ole O Molokai behind Aunty Vanda, introduced the guest speakers and discussed a recent survey conducted by the ‘Aha. Besides the cruise tour question, the survey also asked respondents to voice their mana’o on the question of off-island escort boats fishing off Molokai shores during ocean sports events.

“A strong majority was not in favor,” said Poepoe, regarding the cruise yacht and tourist industry question. However, she added, enough of the ‘no’ responses asked for consideration of managed tourism. As a result, the ‘Aha will “initiate protocol” for deciding this and other issues, said Poepoe.

A series of four meetings has been scheduled
that will cover each moku, or district, represented by ‘Aha Ki’ole O Molokai. ASC’s decision to return to Molokai Jan. 21 coincides with the completion of the final moku meeting in Maunaloa on Jan. 17. “Never before has Molokai had this platform to decide its future,” said Poepoe.

However, Molokai Chamber of Commerce President Robert Stephenson questioned the legitimacy of the ‘Aha to make decisions about Molokai’s future. Stephenson did not speak during the meeting, but said afterwards:

“Our (the Chamber’s) concern is that any process has to be rooted with a foundation in the law and I’m not aware that this process being courted at the moment has a foundation in the rule of law.”

The legislation to create ‘Aha Ki’ole Advisory Committee — Act 212 passed in 2007 — stated that the ‘Aha Moku council, “shall serve … in an advisory capacity on all matters regarding the management of the State’s natural resources.” The latest version of this law passed both houses in the most recent legislative session but was vetoed by Governor Neil Abercrombie because of flaws in specific language, how members are appointed and the budgetary structure and accountability of the organization.

“Never did it (Act 212) provide for any membership or districts other than the original eight appointees appointed by the governor,” added Stephenson.

Despite the questionable authority of ‘Aha Ki’ole O Molokai, Bill Aila, chairman of the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, expressed optimism about the potential of the group. As a guest speaker, Aila said that if the ‘Aha Ki’ole process is “inclusive” it has “the most potential for coming up with solutions” as long as it works toward building “long-term relationships.”

Guest speaker Colette Machado, chair of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, also spoke about the “hard work and time commitment” that this process will require if it is to be successful. While emphasizing the “blood, sweat and tears” that must go into this process, Machado said that the potential exists for creating a guiding document to help plot the future of tourism on Molokai.

“I cannot stress how important it is to have productive discussions,” warned Machado, if this process is to succeed.

Machado said she has received an assurance from Maui County Council chairman Danny Mateo (an invited guest on the agenda at last night’s meeting who did not attend) that any document or declaration from the ‘Aha can be included in the Molokai Community Plan. The county’s Long-Range Division is currently updating Molokai’s 2001 Community Plan for release in 2012.

If a truly collaborative process does take place, Machado said she will ask OHA for $250,000 — as long as the state offers matching funds — to help fund the ‘Aha Ki’ole statewide advisory function. With improved legislative language, “The potential is there for a tighter review process, which we don’t have,” said Machado.

To begin an initiative for gaining local control of tourism on Molokai, the ‘Aha Ki’ole invited two presenters to the meeting who offered past planning documents as guidelines for the future.

Davianna McGregor, representing the Molokai Responsible Tourism Initiative, offered a summary of the community-based visitor plan developed by the Molokai Enterprise Community (Ke ‘Aupuni Lokahi) from 2004 to 2006. After 72 interviews with residents and three focus group meetings, this initiative came up with a plan for sustainable tourism on Molokai. The plan, with clearly identified goals, processes and criteria, sets down principles for guiding Molokai tourism. Presenting an authentic visitor experience that reflects Hawaiian culture “as well as Molokai’s rural lifestyle and its people,” is the cornerstone of the plan.

Many of the Molokai Responsible Tourism Initiative ideas for controlling tourism on the local level were reiterated by Malia Akutagawa, president of the grassroots organization Sust’ainable Molokai. In presenting the highlights of the document “Molokai: Future of a Hawaiian Island,” Akutagawa emphasized the need for responsible tourism. This includes developing a clear “Molokai carrying capacity” that would set limits on the number of visitors.

This document, created in 2008 in response to the closure of Molokai Ranch, attempts to answer the question, “What does the community want?” This document pulled from numerous planning documents created over 30 years. It offers a Molokai-produced vision of its economic and social future in the areas of culture, education, agriculture, environment, subsistence, tourism and governance.

“This process involves everyone and cannot be divided along racial lines,” Akutagawa said. “What we’re trying to seek is a balance, using these documents as a starting point.”

After Akutagawa spoke, each individual moku leader addressed the room to encourage participation in the meetings.

Rough seas and rough start to Maui basketball trip

The Molokai High School boys basketball team warms up before one of its Lahaina games. Photo by Rick Schonely.

By Ke’van Dudoit

The Molokai boys basketball team experienced perhaps the worst boat ride ever from Molokai to Maui and still battled tough with Campbell High School Monday night at the King Kekaulike Gymnasium. But it was not enough as Campbell defeated Molokai 48-37.

Molokai woke up early Tuesday morning and made the drive from the Maui High gym to the Lahaina Civic Center for the third annual Lahainaluna Winter Invitational Basketball Tournament. First up, a game against the Sabers from Maui High School.

In the first half, it didn’t look like a lack of sleep took a toll on the boys from Molokai. The Farmers hung with the Sabers, trailing at the end of the first quarter 14-12, then coming back in the second quarter to take a 27-24 halftime lead.

After 16 minutes of play, the Farmers began to look tired on defense. Players committed turnovers and missed baskets but still battled tough. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. Maui High outscored the Farmers 36-20 points in the second half to win the game 60-47.

For Molokai, Paka Adolpho led the way with 17 points, while Brahunson Ka’ai and Edizon Ringor added 11 points each.

“The kids played hard, I mean they had a rough boat ride, an early morning drive and they played two games in 12 hours,” said assistant coach Rick Schonely. “I am proud that they came out and battled with the Sabers, but unfortunately they became tired in the second half” Schonely added.

The Farmers will now face the tough Bears from Baldwin High School today at 9:30 a.m. at the Lahaina Civic Center. “We will be back tomorrow, ready to play our game, that’s what preseason is about; working on your game and giving the kids a chance to play” Schonely added.


Molokai boys suffer third straight loss

The Molokai boys basketball team came back to the Lahaina Civic Center this morning looking for a victory. But standing in its way was MIL Division I Powerhouse Baldwin.

Molokai trailed 6-4 at the end of an ugly first quarter, a quarter that had many turnovers and missed baskets. Baldwin went on an 18-10 second quarter scoring run to lead 24-14 at halftime.

The Bears never looked back, outscoring the Farmers 43-15 in the second half to win the game 67-29.

Assistant Coach Rick Schonely said he admires his player’s progress during preseason. “It’s a learning experience, the kids get a chance to play really good teams, which will help us to prepare for our MIL Division II season,” Coach Schonely added.

Edizon Ringor led the way with 11 points for Molokai, while Brahunson Ka’ai added 8, and Paka Adolpho added 6 for the Farmers, who only had four players score in the entire game.

Molokai will next play two-time MIL Division I Champions Lahainaluna tomorrow at 3 p.m.

“Tomorrow’s game will put the final touches on our preparation for our season,” Schonely added.

Updated 12-23-11

Molokai boys face fourth straight loss

The Molokai boys basketball team returned to the Lahaina Civic Center Thursday to play its fourth straight game in four days; this time against tournament host and two-time defending MIL Division I champions Lahainaluna.

Unfortunately, it was a game that got off to slow start for the Farmers, making a comeback at the end pretty challenging. Lahainaluna led 49-14 at the end of the third quarter, but with positive coaches and players, the Farmers continued to play hard. It really showed in the fourth quarter with Molokai outscoring Lahainaluna 18-11 before losing by a final score of 60-32.

“Lahainaluna is a really good team that pressured our team, which helps us to prepare for the regular season,” said Assistant Coach Rick Schonely.

The Farmers return home today after a long week on Maui. They will get back to work after taking a couple days off to recuperate.

“We know what we need to work on to prepare us for the season, and it’s all because of the preseason trips to Kauai and Maui” Schonely added.

Molokai will play against alumni teams next week Wednesday and Thursday, which will add on to their MIL season preparation. St. Anthony, Lanai and Seabury join Molokai in the four-team league this year. The Farmers open the MIL Division II regular season on Jan. 20 and 21 at the War Memorial Gymnasium on Maui.