Prominent activist and former trustee announces candidacy for Office of Hawaiian Affairs At-Large seat

Walter Ritte News Release

Longtime community leader and former Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Walter Ritte will hold a press conference today to announce his candidacy for the at-large seat for OHA. The announcement will take place at the Queen Lili’uokalani statue on the grounds at the State Capitol in Honolulu starting at 12:15 p.m.

Walter Ritte has been an outspoken community activist on many Molokai issues. Today he announces his candidacy as an At-Large Trustee for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

A Kamehameha Schools graduate, Ritte is a prominent Hawaiian activist and long-time advocate for Hawaiian rights. He is also a member of the original “Kaho’olawe Nine,” the group of activists who landed on Kaho’olawe in 1976 in opposition to the military bombings and eventual return of the island to the State of Hawaii, where it is currently held in trust until such time as a Native Hawaiian governing entity is formed. Ritte was also a member at the 1978 Constitutional Convention and supported the formation of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. He helped author Article XII Sec. 7 of the Hawaii State Constitution, which codifies Native Hawaiian cultural and gathering rights.

Ritte has formerly served as a trustee with OHA, and for the last three decades, he has fought for the protection of Hawaii’s most valued and fragile resources. He is known for his opposition to uncontrolled development and strong advocacy for traditional and sustainable natural resource management. In recent years, he has been at the forefront of numerous environmental issues, including the protection of endangered species, the protection of kalo and water rights, advocacy for community involvement in sustainable tourism and advocacy for legislation that would require labeling of genetically modified foods.

A Molokai Hawaiian homestead resident from Ho’olehua, Ritte’s candidacy brings diversity to an otherwise Oahu-exclusive pool of candidates. All four current OHA At-Large Trustees are Oahu residents. Ritte would be the only at-large representative from a neighbor island.

Supporters welcome the greater diversity among at-large trustees. “It is both necessary and fair to have more representation from the neighbor islands,” said supporter Trisha Kehalani Watson. “For too long decision making in Hawaii has been Oahu-centric. We need to remember we are an ‘ohana of islands, which means giving greater voice to the neighbor islands.” She adds, “Uncle Walter’s leadership, experience and unparalleled commitment to community are exactly what the Office of Hawaiian Affairs needs right now. He is the perfect person to bring multiple generations together to inspire us all to work as one people for the betterment of all Hawaiians and all of Hawaii.”

Statement from Walter Ritte

Aloha ‘Aina

I am concerned for the life of our islands. Our economy is at war with our natural resources. Unsustainable economics are killing the goose that lays our golden eggs, depleting the corpus of the trust, destroying our mother, neglecting our kuleana to Haloa.

The disappearance of our wildlife and traditional plants from our forests has caused us to be the endangered species capital of the world.

We can no longer drink the waters in our rivers. The ‘opae, hihiwai and o’opu in our rivers are gone. Corporations are diverting rivers away from our traditional food production uses in our taro lands and fishponds.

Corporate industrialized development and farming are turning our lands into chemical laden dust bowls, which run into the ocean and cover our reefs.

Our major source of food along the shoreline such as ‘opihi, ahukihuki, limus, crabs, shrimp, lobster and fish are all but gone.

Our state legislature and governor are beginning to support the wrong side in this war on our natural resources.

OHA can provide leadership and resources, by tapping into its 2,000 years of indigenous knowledge, to help solve Hawaii’s problems of food security, climate change, self-sufficiency and resource management.

We need effective ecosystem-based management plans for all of our vital natural resources based on the proven values of the ahupua’a, kapu system, sharing, eliminating waste, adaptive management, and ecological engineering. Aloha ‘aina is a matter of our survival.


We need to deal with the unresolved and un-relinquished sovereignty of Hawaii.

1893, the United States supported and helped to overthrow the Kingdom of Hawaii.

1898, the United States annexed Hawaii with an illegal resolution.

These illegal acts cannot be the foundation upon which we build the future for our children. It is like building our house on sand.

OHA needs to educate and organize the Hawaiian people and build our nation from the bottom up.

Our Ali’i Trusts need to lokahi and broaden their scope of responsibility by providing leadership for the well being and betterment of the Hawaiian people.

I want to bring my skills and experience to help Hawaii and its people, and to malama our future generations.

Mahalo nui.


White-winged tern makes its first Hawaii appearance on Molokai

This photo of a white-winged tern in Kaunakakai was shot on Sunday by Michael Walthers. Photo courtesy of Oahu Nature Tours, Inc.

In the world of birders — those people who make lists of birds they observe in hopes of making an unusual sighting — a major event known as a “first occurrence” took place Friday on Molokai.

Molokai resident and water bird researcher Arleone Dibben-Young spotted a first-ever occurrence, not just for Molokai but for all of Hawaii. She saw a white-winged tern near the wastewater treatment plant in Kaunakakai. While these birds have been spotted on other Pacific islands such as Palau, this is the first occurrence of this species on any Hawaiian island.

Known for its unusual feeding patterns, the white-winged tern was discovered by Dibben-Young feeding on insects in one of the treatment ponds. She was able to get some quality photographs of the spectacular bird.

“These are typically found on the other side of the planet,” said Dibben-Young. “They should be in France or Belgium.”

Dibben-Young is not sure how these birds made a wrong turn in their migratory pattern. She is just happy they decided to visit, though she has no idea for how long they will stay.

Another view of the white-winged tern shot in Kaunakakai by Michael Walther. Photo courtesy of Oahu Nature Tours, Inc.

White-winged terns breed in western and central Europe to central Russia and southern China. They winter in central and southern Africa, Indonesia and Australia. Vagrants have been recorded in Alaska, California, Eastern USA, West Indies and New Zealand. In the Pacific, they have been recorded in Palau and as a vagrant in the Marianas Islands.

Dibben-Young has seen several unusual species of birds on Molokai over the past 10 years, including several species from Siberia such as Bewick’s swan a couple of years ago, a subspecies of the tundra swan. She has also seen curlew sandpipers here.

Dibben-Young said she believes Molokai may be attractive to migratory birds for its 19 miles of mudflats that can be found here at low tides. Less light pollution from ballfields and other manmade structures may also make Molokai a popular resting spot for migratory birds.

The discovery has created quite a stir in the birder community, according to Dibben-Young. Five birders from Oahu flocked to the treatment plant on Sunday while two more showed up yesterday. Later this week, birders from the Big Island and Maui are expected to visit, said Dibben-Young.

Birds on Molokai made news last year when the kioea bird, or bristle-thighed curlew, became the official bird of Kaunakakai on Oct. 25. Dibben-Young, who organizes the annual bird count for Molokai and managed the Ohiapilo Pond Bird Sanctuary for five years, recommended the designation for the kioea.

The Molokai Visitor’s Association has been paying attention as well. The kioea has been part of its campaign to attract tourism, with images showing up on ball caps and T-shirts. This latest discovery may be just what the Molokai eco-tourism supporters are looking for.

State funds will improve high school girls softball field

As part of a $26.8 million package to improve schools statewide, Molokai High School will receive $171,207.

Gov. Neil Abercombie announced the release of the Capital Improvement Projects funds last Thursday.

“By prioritizing these school projects, we are making an investment in the education of our keiki while creating local jobs,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “The Project Labor Agreement plan announced earlier this week provides a model for collaboration with labor unions on some of these projects to prevent potential conflicts that might otherwise cause unnecessary delay.”

At Molokai High School, these funds will help with the additional construction for accessible route, bleachers, scoreboard, restrooms and accessibility improvements for the girls’ softball field. These improvements were considered necessary to meet federal gender equity requirements.

The two projects receiving the largest portion of these funds are Hilo High School, which will get $3 million for additional construction for new gymnasium, which will also serve as an emergency shelter for the community.

East Kapolei Middle School on O’ahu will receive $2.5 million for design of a new East Kapolei Middle School, needed to accommodate projected demand in the Kapolei area.

Including these projects, a total of 42 different school facility improvement projects will receive funds from this CIP money.

Boat rescue off La’au Point

Maui County firefighters aided a boat in trouble about a mile off La’au Point on the southwest tip of Molokai Saturday.

A crewman aboard the 23-foot Nicole W, out of Oahu, used a cell phone to call the fire department for help. Four men in their 20s and 30s on board the boat said they were adrift in six- to 10-foot seas with winds blowing about 29 to 35 mph at about 2:23 p.m., a Maui Fire Department spokesman said.

A rescue boat and personal watercraft reached the vessel at about 3:45 p.m. and towed it to Hale O Lono Harbor by 5:05 p.m.

Veterans honored at Memorial Day ceremony

Molokai veterans at a 2009 remembrance. Photos from this year’s Memorial Day celebration can be submitted for publication to

Larry Helm, Commander of Molokai Veterans Caring for Veterans, announced the Memorial Day celebration for Molokai veterans:

“Aloha All. Come and tell your friends to come to honor all veterans past, present and future at the Memorial Day ceremony at Ho’olehua Veteran Cemetery at 9 a.m. Monday, May 28, 2012. Program and food. Akua bless Larry Helm.”

The Molokai News welcomes any photos or remembrances from Memorial Day here on Molokai. Email you submissions to:

Deepest “Mahalo Nui Loa” to all our veterans.

Community invited to participate in development of state historic preservation five-year plan

DLNR News Release

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) is holding community meetings statewide in May on all islands to provide opportunity for public input on the development of the 2012-2017 State Historic Preservation Plan.

Meetings on Kauai, Maui, Hawaii and Oahu were announced previously. On Molokai, the meeting will be held Thursday, May 31, in the Molokai High School Cafeteria from 5-7 p.m. The Lanai meeting is set for May 30 at Lanai High and Elementary School cafeteria from 5-7 p.m.

“Historic sites are tangible evidence of a colorful, rich heritage and provide the community with a sense of continuity,” said Pua Aiu, SHPD administrator. “The programs and services offered by SHPD are designed to promote the use and maintenance of historic properties for the education, inspiration, pleasure and enrichment of Hawaii’s citizens and visitors. Community input is essential to help set priorities for the State Historic Preservation Plan and will guide actions over the next five years.”

The meetings will begin with a presentation on historic preservation issues in present-day Hawaii. Attendees will be invited to share their own perceptions, including feedback on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges for historic preservation.

Specifically, participants will have the opportunity to contribute to discussion on a variety of topics, including:
• Priorities for historic preservation in Hawaii and individual communities
• Key participants
• Existing community resources
• Identifying what other resources are needed

The development and implementation of a comprehensive statewide historic preservation plan is one of the responsibilities of SHPD, under grant funding it receives from the National Park Service (NPS).

“When meetings in every county are completed, we will have a clearer perspective of historic preservation issues and concerns throughout the state,” said Faith Sereno Rex, president of SMS Consulting, which is the lead contractor responsible for completing the 2012-2017 State Historic Preservation Plan. “We also hope to re-energize the community to be more active in historic preservation activities. When people are involved in the planning process they are more likely to stay active through implementation.”

Light refreshments will be served.

Community members may also share their thoughts through the following options: Website:; E-mail:; Mail: SMS, 1042 Fort Street Mall, Suite 200, Honolulu, HI 96813Phone: Toll free at 1-877-535-5767 (ask for Renee).

For more information, visit

PUC approves electric rate increase for MECO

Starting June 1, the average household on Molokai will pay an additional $5.25 a month on its electric bill with the approval by the Public Utilities Commission for an interim rate increase for Maui Electric Company.

Photovoltaic panels, like these on the roof of Molokai General Hospital, will better integrate into the Molokai electrical grid with MECO’s improvements that will be funded, in part, by its latest interim rate increase.

The increase, granted by the PUC on Monday, reflects a settlement agreement between Maui Electric and the state Division of Consumer Advocacy, according to MECO. The commission is expected to continue to review MECO’s request for a permanent rate hike, and, if a lower final increase is approved, then the difference will be refunded to customers with interest, the utility said in an announcement.

The increase is expected to generate an additional $13.1 million in revenue for the utility.

The estimated increase for Molokai is based on a household using 400 kilowatts a month. The $5.25 monthly increase would raise the average monthly bill to $193.21.

As part of this rate hike, MECO said it will now have the revenue to cover the operations and maintenance costs of better integrating renewable energy sources into the electrical grid. Upgrades and improvements to the Pala’au power generating facility will also be made that will increase efficiency, improve reliability and reduce emissions.

The utility’s original request for a rate increase was submitted in July 2011 and sought a 6.7 percent increase, or $27.5 million in revenue. MECO sought the interim rate hike May 14.

State to hold public listening sessions for Ocean Resources Management Plan

The State of Hawaii Office of Planning Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program is inviting coastal and ocean users, as well as other stakeholders and interested individuals, to a series of listening sessions being held statewide as it begins the Hawaii Ocean Resources Management Plan (ORMP) update.

The Hawaii Ocean Resources Management Plan update will be open for review next Wednesday, 5:30 p.m., Mitchell Pau’ole Center.

The final meeting in the series of seven meetings will be held on Molokai May 30 at the Mitchell Pau’ole Community Center starting at 5:30 p.m. with an open house. A formal presentation will begin at 6:30 p.m.

The ORMP takes a place-based approach to management of ocean resources in the islands, taking into account recognition of the ecological connections between land and sea, the link between human activities and impacts on the environment, and the need for improved collaboration and stewardship in natural resources governance.

In addition to coordination of overall implementation of the ORMP, the CZM Program is responsible for the review and periodic update of the plan. Last updated in 2006, the ORMP sets forth guiding principles and recommendations for use of coastal zone land and water resources, taking into consideration ecological, cultural, historic and esthetic values and the needs for compatible economic development.

The CZM Program is currently updating the 2006 ORMP by conducting an evaluation of the first five years of implementation, identifying areas of focus for the next five years, and determining how the ORMP should be refined or changed to incorporate new issues.

For more information on the ORMP, visit:

Public input on the ORMP may also be submitted via e-mail to or by mail to the Office of Planning, Coastal Zone Management Program, P.O. Box 2359, Honolulu, HI 96804.

Individuals requesting accommodations for disabilities should call the CZM Program at (808) 587-2846, or submit requests in writing at least five days in advance to the above address or via fax at (808) 587-2824.