Faculty & Staff

D. Kapua‘ala

Sproat

Director, Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law
Professor of Law
Regents' Medalist for Excellence in Teaching

Degrees

JD, William S. Richardson School of Law, 1998
BA, Mills College, 1995

Biography

Kapua Sproat joined the law school in 2007 as an Assistant Professor with Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law and the Environmental Law Program. She currently teaches courses in Native Hawaiian and Environmental Law, and Legal Research and Writing. In addition to her teaching, Kapua assists with all aspects of Ka Huli Ao’s program work, including student recruitment and retention, community outreach and education, and fund development. Her areas of scholarship and interest include Native Hawaiian law, Indigenous rights, and natural resource protection and management.

Prior to joining the faculty, Kapua spent nine years as an attorney in the Hawai‘i office of Earthjustice, a national, public interest environmental litigation firm. Given her special interest in empowering and supporting Native Hawaiian culture and people, Kapua worked to preserve the resources necessary to perpetuate her culture by litigating state and federal cases under the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, State Water Code, and various Hawai‘i environmental laws. Kapua developed a special interest in water law and worked on ground-breaking litigation on the Islands of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, and Maui to return diverted stream flows to public trust and other community uses, including traditional Hawaiian agriculture and aquaculture. She remains Of Counsel at Earthjustice where she continues to work on water and other issues.

Kapua was born and raised on Kaua‘i’s North Shore in Kalihiwai. She is a member of the Akana and Sproat ‘Ohana of Kaua‘i and Kohala, Hawai‘i, and currently resides on O‘ahu with her husband Kahikūkalā and sons Olamaunāpuaokalāhui and Uluponoikamakanikēwaiakekiliua.

Select Publications

  • Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie & D. Kapua’ala Sproat, A Collective Memory of Injustice: Reclaiming Hawai’i’s Crown Lands Trust in Response to Judge James S. Burns, 39 U. Haw. L. Rev. 481 (2017). HeinOnline | SSRN | ScholarSpace
  • D. Kapuaʻala Sproat, An Indigenous People’s Right to Environmental Self-Determination: Native Hawaiians and the Struggle Against Climate Change Devastation, 35 Stan. Envtl L.J. 157 (2016).  HeinOnline | SSRN | ScholarSpace
  • D. Kapua‘ala Sproat, From Wai to Kānāwai:  Water Law in Hawai‘i, in Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise (Second Edition of the Native Hawaiian Rights Handbook) (MacKenzie, Serrano, & Sproat eds., 2015). 
  • D. Kapua‘ala Sproat, Kahakai: Shorelinesin Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise (Second Edition of the Native Hawaiian Rights Handbook) (MacKenzie, Serrano, & Sproat eds., 2015).
  • D. Kapua‘ala Sproat & Jodi Higuchi, Loko Iʻa: Hawaiian Fishponds, in Native Hawaiian Law:  A Treatise (Second Edition of the Native Hawaiian Rights Handbook) (MacKenzie, Serrano, & Sproat eds., 2015).
  • D. Kapua‘ala Sproat, A Question of Wai: Seeking Justice Through Law for Hawaiʻi’s Streams and Communities, in A Nation Rising (Duke Univ. Press) (Goodyear-Kaʻopua, Wright, & Hussey eds., 2014).
  • D. Kapua‘ala Sproat, Ā Mau Loa: A Tribute to Jon Markham Van Dyke, 34 U. Haw. L. Rev. 379 (2012). HeinOnline
  • D. Kapua‘ala Sproat, Where Justice Flows Like Water: The Moon Court’s Role in Illuminating Hawai‘i Water Law, 33 U. Haw. L. Rev. 537 (Published Winter 2012). HeinOnline | ScholarSpace
  • D. Kapua‘ala Sproat, Wai Through Kānāwai: Water for Hawai‘i’s Streams and Justice for Hawaiian Communities, 95 Marq. L. Rev. 127 (2011). HeinOnline | ScholarSpace
  • D. Kapua‘ala Sproat, Water, in The Value of Hawai‘i (Jon Osorio & Craig Howes eds., 2010). 
  • D. Kapua‘ala Sproat, Ola I Ka Wai: A Legal Primer for Water Use and Management in Hawai‘i, (Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law, 2009).
  • D. Kapua’ala Sproat, Avoiding Trouble In Paradise, 18 Bus. L. Today 29 (2008). HeinOnline | ScholarSpace
  • D. Kapua‘ala Sproat & Isaac H. Moriwake, Ke Kalo Pa‘a o Waiāhole: A Case Study of the Use of the Public Trust as a Tool for Environmental Advocacy, in Common Law Remedies For Protecting The Environment (Denise Antolini & Cliff Rechtschaffen eds., 2007).
  • D. Kapua Sproat, The Backlash Against PASH: Legislative Attempts to Restrict Native Hawaiian Rights, 20 U. Haw. L. Rev. 321 (1998). HeinOnline | ScholarSpace

Awards

  • International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Academy of Environmental Law Distinguished Environmental Law Education Award for Emerging Scholars (September 2015)
  • University of Hawai’i Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching (April 2014)
  • William S. Richardson School of Law Outstanding Professor of the Year (2013-2014)
  • William S. Richardson School of Law Alumni Association Public Service Award (September 2013)
  • Advocates for Public Interest Law Faculty Award (March 2013)

Select Grants and Contracts

  • $150,000 Aʻo Aku Aʻo Mai Initiative (2015-2017); Cooperative Agreement with the State Office of Hawaiian Affairs, author and principal investigator.
  • $250,000 Aʻo Aku Aʻo Mai Initiative (2013-2015); Cooperative Agreement with the State Office of Hawaiian Affairs, author and principal investigator.
  • $125,000 Aʻo Aku Aʻo Mai Initiative (2012-2013); Cooperative Agreement with the State Office of Hawaiian Affairs, author and principal investigator.
  • $5,998 National Park Service’s Hawaiʻi-Pacific Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit Grant (2012-2013), author and principal investigator.
  • $39,900 Hawaiʻi Community Foundation Grant (2008-2009), co-author and principal investigator.
  • $51,406.38 Ola I Ka Wai Initiative (2007-2009); Cooperative Agreement with the State Office of Hawaiian Affairs, author and principal investigator.

Related News

UH Law Professor Kapua Sproat ‘98 Named Associate Director of Ka Huli Ao Center For Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law

Law Professor Kapua Sproat ʻ98 Selected for Board of Regentsʻ Excellence in Teaching Award

portrait photo

Contact

Phone: (808) 956-7489
Fax: (808) 956-5569

kapuas@hawaii.edu

Office

W 12:00p - 2:00pmOr by appointment

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