HONOLULU: JANUARY 13, 2006 - After several tumultuous months, Mayor Mufi Hannemann has announced a settlement agreement which will preserve the entire 1,875-acre sacred ahupua'a of Waimea Valley intact. The court appointed mediator has facilitated a settlement agreement for $14 million that will keep the case from going to court on February 13, 2006 where the property's "fair market" value would have been decided by a trial by jury.
Jim Case, attorney for the Stewards of Waimea Valley and one of Hawai'i's leading legal experts on land holding, said, "We have not yet had an opportunity to study the settlement agreement in detail. However, we are very happy if the Council has sustained its earlier position, which it took clearly in the unanimous vote on December 7 -- that Waimea Valley will remain whole, as a complete traditional Hawaiian ahupua'a. That means an ownership regime of government or non-profit organizations that is committed to the long-term unity of the Valley, with no subdivisions or entanglements -- commercial or residential. After we have studied the details of the settlement agreement, we may have further comment."
He added, "This is only the first stage of Waimea's renaissance, however -- much remains to be done to bring forward native Hawaiian leadership in the Valley, to build a world-class biological and botanical institute, to make Waimea Valley a center for arts, culture and community for all of O'ahu and our visitors from around the world. The Stewards of Waimea is committed to supporting that vital process, for the long term."
Scott Foster, Communications Director for the Stewards said, "This agreement marks a new beginning for Waimea Valley. The long saga begun in 2000 when East coast real estate speculator and developer Christian Wolffer put the sacred ahupua'a 'property' up for sale as a private residence is ended, and the real work can begin. Waimea Valley now has every chance of becoming the center of Hawaiian cultural on O`ahu that it should and could have been all along. We are truly thankful for this positive conclusion."