Ku`uwehi Hiraishi

General Assignment Reporter

Ways to Connect

Department of Hawaiian Home Lands

Thousands of Native Hawaiians are set to receive financial compensation from the state in a historic breach-of-trust case recently decided by Hawaiʻiʻs Supreme Court. A court-appointed special master will determine what damages are owed the plaintiffs after years and even decades-long waits for Hawaiian homesteads. Much of the calculation depends on the cost of a parcel of land in Māʻili, Oʻahu.

Kekaha Hawaiian Homestead Association

It's not clear how much the state could end up paying in damages to people who have spent years on the waitlist for Hawaiian homesteads following last week's Hawaiʻi Supreme Court ruling concluding that the state failed to properly manage the century-old land trust.

Seventy-six-year-old Liberta Hussey Albao, one of the original plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit filed more than 20 years ago, was harvesting bananas in her backyard in Wailua when her phone began ringing off the hook. 

Kazuhiko Teramoto/Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons 2.0 License

More workers in Hawaiʻi’s hotel industry are facing layoffs and extended furloughs despite state plans to reopen to out-of-state travel in August. Labor advocates are calling on state legislators to put an end to job cuts that have left thousands of residents out of work.

Airbnb

Short-term vacation rentals are back under the microscope as public concern rises over enforcement issues amid COVID-19.  The pandemic has brought changes to the industry that may have a lasting impact.

AP Photo/Jaymes Song

The online hosting platform Airbnb has agreed to help Kauaʻi County enforce its short-term vacation rental laws, Mayor Derek Kawakami and Airbnb announced yesterday.

Airbnb will remove any short-term rentals on Kauaʻi from its platform if hosts are not operating within the parameters set by county. Kawakami says this agreement with the online hosting platform has been in the works for quite some time.

iha.com

Short-term vacation rentals in Hawaiʻi may be reopening to more regulation under COVID-19.

Courtesy of Mackson Sam

Over on the west side of the Big Island, a growing number of Marshallese citizens are mobilizing to keep their community safe from COVID-19.

Harry Durgin / Downtown Hilo Business Improvement Association

Businesses across the state are continuing to re-open after months of COVID-19 closures. But with the mandatory two-week quarantine still in place for out-of-state tourists, businesses are re-examining their relationships with the sometimes overlooked kamaʻāina customer. 

 

National Museum of Health and Medicine

The 1918 flu pandemic was one of the deadliest in recent history – killing 50 million people worldwide, including thousands here in Hawaiʻi. Kona historian Maile Melrose shared her familyʻs history with the pandemic and reflects on some of the lessons for a world caught in the grip of COVID-19. 

Ku'uwehi Hiraishi

After two and a half months, the state of Hawaiʻi has lifted its mandatory interisland quarantine requirement. That means residents are once again free to travel to other islands. 

Kelly Bokin / Marshallese Community Organization of Hawa'i

The Marshall Islands is among only a few countries left in the world that are COVID-19 free. This is due in part to a strict travel ban that has left more than 200 Marshallese citizens stranded since March here in Hawaiʻi. 

Ku'uwehi Hiraishi

Food shortages in communities statewide because of the COVID-19 pandemic helped higlight the vulnerability of Hawaiʻi’s food supply. We currently import nearly 90 percent of the food we eat. The issue has sparked discussions on strengthening food security in the islands.

Parks Hotels & Resorts

As businesses reopen on Hawaiʻi Island, unemployed hotel workers are waiting for their chance to get back to work. Several hotels are already taking reservations beginning July 1, and that has some in the industry cautiously optimistic.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Updated: 6/4/2020, 3:45 p.m.

Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard’s job performance exceeded expectations last year, according to her annual evaluation by the police commission.

pexels.com

Hawai’i health officials say additional demographic data on COVID-19’s impact in Hawaii is on its way. The state Health Department began providing data a month ago, but critics say the information is incomplete and tells an inaccurate story of the pandemic’s impact on various communities. 

University of Hawaii John A Burns School of Medicine

A new survey of Hawaii primary care providers reveals a majority are struggling to stay in business because of changes made to the way they’re compensated by the state’s largest insurer HMSA.

Ku'uwehi Hiraishi/HPR

Hawai’i has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country with nearly a quarter of a million island residents out of work. As state leaders consider solutions to this crisis, there’s one approach that would create jobs, address some local issues, and reach back to a bit of history that worked in the past.

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi

Kauaʻi County today is reopening its beaches for casual use – like a family picnic or sunbathing – all with social distancing measures in place. The island continues to carefully reopen under the COVID-19 pandemic, a process that began a week ago with retailers getting back to business. 

Ku'uwehi Hiraishi

The transition from incarceration back into society has always been a challenge for Hawaiʻiʻs criminal justice system. Over the course of two months, the COVID-19 threat has moved hundreds of inmates back into the community – oftentimes with little to no support in navigating life outside jail or prison. 

Coolcaesar/Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons 4.0 license

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way we all do business here in Hawaiʻi, the state Supreme Court included.

Tomorrow justices will – for the first time in history – hear oral arguments remotely with the use of video conferencing technology.

Courtoom doors will be closed and seats empty at Aliʻiʻiolani Hale when the Supreme Court conducts its oral arguments online. Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald told HPR theyʻve been experimenting with technology like Zoom and WebEx to find the right fit.

Sheldon Abril

The COVID-19 pandemic has kept Hawaiʻiʻs schools closed for more than a month and families are beginning to feel the impact. 

For students enrolled in Hawaiian immersion programs, school is often the only place where kids are able to practice the language. 

 

Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

Anyone can be infected with the coronavirus, but data coming out of several states – including Hawaiʻi – show Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have higher rates of contracting COVID-19. This reflects nationwide findings showing the virus is hitting different populations unequally, and many are wondering why.

FOREST AND KIM STARR/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / CC LICENSE

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino says the county plans to work with state regulators to deal with groundwater discharges in the wake of a major U.S. Supreme Court ruling yesterday.

 

Ku'uwehi Hiraishi

At least one positive case of COVID-19 has been found in the Kaʻū region of the Big Island, according to state health officials. It's something this remote and rural district has been preparing months for.

Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

The battle against COVID-19 is now asking for the public's help - the National Disaster Preparedness Center launches part two of an online survey this week. Newly appointed Economic and Community Navigator Alan Oshima discusses what will be the new normal on the other side of the coronavirus crisis. And HPR reporter Ku'uwehi Hiraishi talks about how Hawaii's rulers dealt with pandemics in the past.

Hawaii Judiciary Archives / Punawaiola

The novel coronavirus is not the first infectious disease to prompt government action in the Hawaiian Islands. Public health interventions under the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi included everything from vessel screenings to travel bans to quarantine laws.

Ku'uwehi Hiraishi

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is urging President Donald Trump to stop all non-essential travel coming to Hawaiʻi in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. Caldwell made the announcement yesterday after expressing frustration over visitors continuing to arrive to the islands without any plans for self-quarantine.

Flickr

Molokaʻi currently has no confirmed cases of COVID-19, and local residents and businesses are taking precautions to keep it that way.

Harry Kim

Counties around Hawai’i have closed public gathering spaces as confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise. But one county remains an exception.

Cruise Ship Mapper

Big Island residents are breathing a sigh of relief after state authorities canceled a cruise ship’s emergency plans to unload hundreds of its passengers at Hilo Harbor. State transportation officials say the Holland America Line vessel is now set to arrive in Honolulu Friday, but none of its more than 800 passengers will be allowed off.

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