Pacific American-News Journal
Mei-May 1996 Volume 2 Issue 5
A Response to Prime Time Live
Dear Sam Donaldson
77 W. 66th St.
New York, NY. 10023
Pacific American News Journal
3600 15th Ave Suite 2060
Seattle, WA. 981190
April 10, 1996
Dear Mr. Donaldson,
I always felt that your reporting has been fair and complete.
However, I take issue with your piece "In the Name of
Charity" and the Bishop Estate. Your report on the Bishop
Estate was biased, misleading, and gave a typical Western view of
Hawai`i. As a graduate of Kamehameha Schools, I found your
portrayal of the Bishop Estate as a money-hungry machine which is
unwilling to help people of Hawaiian ancestry, to be very far
from the truth. To imply that the Estate is trying to defraud the
U.S. Government of taxes is a blatant lie. To use Haunani-Kay
Trask as a spokesperson for the Hawaiian people to make the point
that the Estate is not trying to educate the Hawaiians (required
by the will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop) is irresponsible
as Ms. Trask is a recognized radical and does not speak for the
Hawaiians. You at least, could have pronounced her name
I would like to point out some facts that were omitted from
your program. Bishop Estate does own some property on Waikiki and
also on various locations throughout the Islands, and yes, also
some prime real estate on the mainland. However, you failed to
mention that the State of Hawai`i and various organizations are
trying to take away land that was willed by Princess Pauahi, the
last remaining descendent of King Kamehameha. The Estate has been
trying for years to keep Hawaiian lands in Hawaiian hands. If
people keep taking away the land, what will be left for the
Hawaiian children of the future?
The prized beach front land does generate millions in rent.
According to your report, the Bishop Estate owns only 16 acres in
Waikiki. Are there only 16 acres in Waikiki? Who owns the rest?
The Japanese, foreign investors, are they paying taxes? Are there
other non-profit organizations that own land in Waikiki?
Perhaps it would be more worthwhile to look at the wasteful
use of our tax dollars such as buying $600 toilet bowls and $1200
hammers. Do we need more tax dollars for our fact finding
missions by our nations elected officials along with their
spouses to exotic places throughout the world? Forgive my
ignorance, but this seems like a paid vacation by tax payers.
Yes, the Bishop Estate does own 367,000 acres of land
throughout the Hawaiian Islands. This is down from 434,300 acres
that was left in perpetual trust in 1884! This is Hawaiian Land
owned by the Hawaiian people in trust. Now this is in Hawaiian
hands, but for how long? When reporters like yourself only tell
half the story to increase ratings, politicians serving special
interest groups find it easier to take land from the Bishop
Estate. In 1967 the state Legislature passed a "Land Reform
Act" enabling the state to force Native Hawaiian trusts and
other private landowners to sell the leased fee interest in
single-family properties to largely non-Hawaiian private lessees.
On May 30, 1984 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states have the
power to determine a local purpose, thus upholding the Land
Reform Act. Since 1984 many lessees who have purchased their fee
from Bishop Estate have turned around and sold the property for
windfall profits within months. Bishop Estate has lost an
estimated $2 billion dollars since then. And in 1991 the Honolulu
City Council passed a mandatory conversion bill enabling the city
to force Native Hawaiian trusts and other private landowners to
sell the leased fee interest in multi-family properties, again to
largely non-Hawaiian private lessees. The estate generates 98% of
its income from 2% of its land; 97% of the Estate is in
conservation and agricultural lands. With the continual assault
on Bishop Estate, I can see why they must go elsewhere to
continue with the trust that was left by Princess Bernice Pauahi
You failed to mention that Haunani-Kay Trask received her
elementary and secondary education at Kamehameha Schools, and
that she has her own special agenda. And I know that education
helped form who Ms. Trask is today. To rebut Ms. Trask's opinion:
The Estate has money and they choose to use it wisely to defend
and insure that Pauahi's legacy continues so that our children
and our children's children will receive an education. Kamehameha
Schools also provides a comprehensive, kindergarten through
college, financial aid. The financial aid department has two
- to make sure that no student would be denied entrance to
Kamehameha because of financial need;
- to provide financial assistance to graduates needing help
in order to continue their education at an institution of
The Schools do only educate approximately 3000 full time
students from kindergarten to grade 12 high in the hills above
Honolulu. Those students are expected to maintain the highest
possible level of academic achievement, and to observe the rights
of others. And all these students are expected to follow a code
of conduct based on respect, responsibility, honesty, fairness,
tolerance, self-discipline, cooperation and courage. But you
failed to mentioned all of the outreach programs of the Estate.
These reach approximately 40,000 students on Oahu and the
neighboring Islands, and no one who wants to participate is
turned away. The Estate is also building four elementary schools
on the outer islands and two on Oahu for grades one through six.
If the school was to educate on the Kapalama Height campus all
Hawaiian students as Representative Thealand suggests, this would
be totally unrealistic (24,000 students). You would need more
infrastructure and this would deplete the Estate's resources.
That would not be a sound business decision, let alone giving the
children a sound education. Kamehameha Schools also provides
programs for Hawaiian students who live out of state. In order to
get into Harvard you must have a high level of academic
achievement let alone money. Does Harvard accept more than one
out of eight applicants?
I told Mr. Jervis last year when some of the trustees were in
Seattle, that I really don't care how much money they make as
long as they continue the will and legacy of the Estate. Their
combined income was less than Lee Iaccoca made at Chrysler
running approximately the same size business. The trustees
combined income is less than most C.E.O.s of businesses of
comparable size. These C.E.O.s don't have the added burden of
holding and insuring that the trust is held in perpetuity. The
trustees do make a large amount of money and they still make less
than other directors at other non-profit organizations in the
State of Hawaii and throughout the country. If the pay was cut to
$30,000 a year for each trustee, would that insure the schools
would be able to continue? (I'm sure some critics would like to
see the Bishop Estate disappear.)
The biggest and most glaring thing that was overlooked was the
great wisdom and decision that Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop had
to devise a perpetual trust that has withstood the test of time.
She wrote this well before the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian
nation by American businessman which was backed by the U.S.
military in 1893. And well before income tax was enacted.
Have you ever stopped to wonder what happened to the Kings and
Queens of Hawai`i? Did they one day decide to hand over their
land and people (hui kanaka) to the U.S. GOVERNMENT? Why does
Hawai`i have a palace when none of the other states have a
palace? Of course, none of these questions are addressed in
today's history classes. Maybe this would have been a more
appropriate agenda to address, but probably would not drive your
ratings and probably wouldn't re-elect Representative Thealand.
And big business wouldn't like the idea of the rape and pillage
of our `šina, Hawai`i, becoming front page news.
Is this a Western view of Hawaiians? Next month the University
of Washington is hosting a leadership conference for Pacific
Americans and Pacific Islanders here in Seattle. However they
weren't able to find any local leaders in the Hawaiian community
(there are many). They did manage to contact this newspaper (Hale
Pai). When the question was asked why is no Hawaiians were on the
agenda some names were mentioned. They are from Hawai`i but they
are Samoans and Japanese, and not kanaka maoli's, who can discuss
the sovereignty issue. The response to us was: "we have hula
Mr. Donaldson I hope you have the courage and fairness to
respond to this open letter, Your response will not be edited as
your program was to drive our ratings.
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