Lana‘i for Lana‘i

An essay calling for local ownership of Lana‘i-kaula.

Ikaika M Hussey

With all due respect to Larry Ellison: Lana‘i should be owned by the people of the island.

For 130 years, Lana‘i has been a plantation, in name or in form, or what the authors of the 1998 Lana‘i Community Plan have called “an island empire.”

Decades of plantation-style rule have inhibited the self-sufficiency of the island, first by limiting access of small farms to critical resources like water, and then establishing consecutive mono crop economies of ranching, pineapple, and tourism which extracted value from the island. The result: an island which is dependent on the outside for fuel, food, and cash.

Local ownership of Lana‘i provides an opportunity to revamp land use and resource development of the island. Former pineapple and ranching lands should be turned over for farm use. And the tremendous wind resources should be owned by Lana‘i, and sold to others, not the other way around.

Ellison can play an important role in the transaction, by using his cash investment to finance the transfer of lands, over several years, to a community land trust or cooperatively-owned corporation. That would provide ample time for the community to get organized. Those of us on islands neighboring Lana‘i should help as well, by investing in the purchase. But control and decision making should be held by Lana‘i.

My purpose here is to instigate a public conversation about the future of a more self-sufficient, independent Lana‘i. I look forward to hearing what you have to say.