After four years of recovery, 30 law students, four attorneys, and thousands of hours of work, Ka Huli Ao and the Environmental and Native Hawaiian Law Clinics help secure water for kalo farmers in Waiʻoli. In 2018, the North Shore of Kauaʻi suffered devastating flooding. Small, ʻohana farmers of the Waiʻoli Valley Taro Hui (Hui) were faced with restoring the damages to their homes, community, and their loʻi kalo. As a traditional and customary practice, kalo cultivation has sustained the small town of Waiʻoli for generations. Many of the farmers are 5th and 6th generation farmers tending the same land their families have cultivated for years. Although this system has been utilized since time immemorial, and research dates the specific loʻi kalo irrigation system to the 1550s, disaster relief efforts determined that the mānowai, poʻowai, and much of the ʻauwai are now on state-zoned conservation land.
In 2019, the Environmental Law Clinic first began helping the farmers navigate the complicated legal maze. During that time, the clinic helped to establish a non-profit, secure a right of entry, and an easement from the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR). Since then, the clinics, with support of Ka Huli Ao, helped the Hui secure a revocable permit for water use, develop a watershed management plan, complete an environmental assessment with a finding of no significant impact, a cultural impact statement, a concurrent resolution at the Hawaiʻi State Legislature urging the issuance of a water lease by direct negotiation, amend the interim instream flow standards for Waiʻoli Stream at the State Water Commission, and complete beneficiary consultation with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. Students and Hui members also attended and testified at countless hearings at the BLNR, the Water Commission, and the Hawaiʻi State Legislature.
After three years of work, the help of four attorneys and over 30 students, a water lease to secure access to water remained elusive. Nearly four years after the flooding, the Hui continued to navigate the complex process of government approvals for their water use for traditional and customary practice.
Finally, in 2022, the legislature passed and Governor Ige signed Act 27, which exempts traditional and customary kalo cultivation from the water licensing statute. On May 25, 2022, the farmers of the Waiʻoli Valley Taro Hui and its many supporters celebrated the end of an arduous process. The exemption not only ensured that kalo cultivation would continue in Waiʻoli, but that many others throughout Hawaiʻi pae ʻāina would also benefit from their hard work and aloha. Aia i Waiʻoli Ke Aloha ʻĀina! Aloha ʻāina lives at Waiʻoli!
Aia i Waiʻoli ke Aloha ʻĀina
Na Uʻilani Tanigawa Lum
|Aia i Waiʻoli ke aloha ʻāina Ia ʻāina momona no ka hui kalo||There at Waiʻoli is aloha ʻāina That fertile land for the hui kalo|
|Hui ʻia a kūpaʻa, a lawa pono ʻIliʻili leo honehone i ka poli||United and steadfast to satisfaction Gathered as small pebbles soft in sound, but together, strong and held close|
|Pumehana Waipā uluwehiwehi Hoapili no ka wai ʻolu o Waiʻoli||Waipā is cherished, lush and verdant A companion for the refreshing waters of Waiʻoli|
|ʻOliʻoli Keanolani no ka mahiʻai I laila nō wau me kuʻu mahalo||Keanolani is delightful for the farmers It is there that I am filled with gratitude|
|Hanohano Kalihiwai i ka pua ʻala Kui ʻia i lei no ka lāhui||Famous is Kalihiwai for its fragrant flower Strung into a lei for the lāhui|
|Haʻina ka puana a i lohe ʻia Aia i Waiʻoli ke aloha ʻāina||Told is the refrain and it is heard There at Waiʻoli is aloha ʻāina|
Aia i Waiʻoli ke Aloha ʻĀina was written by 2019 Clinic student, and current Ka Huli Ao Fellow, Uʻilani Tanigawa Lum after a site visit to Waiʻoli as a student. Uʻi now helps to teach the Environmental and Native Hawaiian Law Clinics.