UPDATE: Five leading Sovereignty activists have today been indicted for what Sovereignty activists do best--stealing from Hawaiians. See coverage and check out our 2008 article (below) detailing this, the latest in a long series of sovereignty scams.
By Andrew Walden (Originally published Nov 18, 2008)
There is a parallel universe which comes together every Sunday from 9-10AM in Wailuku Maui at the Cameron Center—conveniently located next to the Maui PD. In this universe—for a hefty fee--the gullible can believe they make their credit card bills disappear. They don’t have to pay property taxes. A phony $1 million “Hawaiian Kingdom Treasury Bond” --paid for with a few thousand real US dollars-- can be used to pay off their mortgage.
This scam is tied to several well-known sovereignty activists—which perhaps explains why the Advertiser’s two recent articles have included so little information about the alleged perpetrators.
Stealing from Hawaiians is nothing new for the sovereignty movement. David Keanu Sai was convicted March 7, 2000 on felony charges stemming from his involvement in the so-called “Perfect Title” scam in which dozens of Hawaiians were conned into forking out thousands of dollars to Sai and his company in exchange for worthless documents. None of this has stopped Sai. According to an online biography: “Sai uses the title of Chairman of the Acting Council of Regency of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Sai has done extensive historical research, especially on the treaties between Hawai`i and other nations, and military occupation and the laws of war. Sai is currently a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of Hawai`i, where he founded the Hawaiian Society of Law and Politics, which publishes the Hawaiian Journal of Law and Politics.”
Another scam had the Kupuna Action Council, led by the late Samuel Keolamauloa Kaluna of Pahala, John Paki Dudoit and convicted felon “his majesty” Edmund Kelii Silva Jr. selling $1 billion in worthless “Hawaiian Kingdom" bonds from the now defunct website www.RoyalKupuna.com between 2002-2005.
The Honolulu Advertiser first gave readers a peek inside this latest scam with a November 17 article, “Homeowners targets of scam” which reveals little about the identity of the scammers but explains:
“The FBI is investigating several local companies that allegedly bilked homeowners out of more than $300,000 on O`ahu, the Big Island and Maui with false promises to help them avoid foreclosure, according to local lenders and law enforcement officials. The families, many of which are Native Hawaiian, were charged between $2,500 and $10,000 to attend seminars or counseling sessions on avoiding foreclosure, and were told they would receive bonds worth $1 million that could be used to pay off the outstanding balance of the mortgage.”
A follow up article November 18 is titled, “Scam came wrapped in rhetoric” and describes, “Douglas Gillman, a 78-year-old retiree from Waialua, gave $2,500 to a woman on Maui claiming to be an officer of the Hawaii Loa Foundation, a Native Hawaiian group with ‘ownership rights’ to swaths of local land.” The article also reveals: “Several local lending institutions have foreclosed on five loans after mortgage holders stopped sending payments.”
The reference to “Hawaii Loa Foundation” is the only clue the Advertiser provides about the identity of the alleged scammers. The Advertiser also posts a pdf of the phony “bonds” allegedly being sold.
The Maui News merely reprinted the Advertiser articles one day later, in spite of the fact that the alleged scam is based on Maui and witnesses have described as many as 100 people attending Hawaii Loa Foundation seminars Sunday mornings at the Cameron Center in Wailuku. KGMB 9 News also reported on the alleged scam without identifying any of the alleged perpetrators.
Hawai`i Free Press was easily able to obtain the name of the alleged scammer’s website— www.KoHawaiiPaeAina.org --from the same sources cited in the Advertiser article. A whois search of the http://kohawaiipaeaina.net website domain records show them registered to: “Oliver, Mahealani firstname.lastname@example.org 400 Hookahi St. suite C – 206, Wailuku, HI 96793 US +1.2432224.” That last seven digit number is a phone number given out by “Mahealani” in her radio broadcasts. The street address is also the location identified by a Maui resident interviewed by Hawai`i Free Press who met with a recruiter to hear a presentation on the scam.
The contact information listed on the website reads; “Ko Hawaii Pae Aina © ™ 310 Hookahi St. Suites 201 & 206 Wailuku, Hawai`i 96793 Phone: (808) 243–2224 Fax: (808) 243-2234 E-Mail: email@example.com.”
According to the website, Mahealani Ventura-Oliver has been broadcasting her message at 7AM each Monday on Maui KAOI-AM 1110 and Kaua`i’s KONG-AM 570. The broadcasts are posted at the site and can be replayed.
About 100 names are listed on her website with various “documents” they allegedly purchased. Several of the names are well-known sovereignty activists.
Speaking in sonorous dulcet tones reminiscent of a female Noam Chomsky, during her 30-minute broadcasts Mahealani invites listeners to call her with questions at KAOI’s toll-free number. She also encourages listeners to “call the good people at the Hawaii Loa Foundation… at 243-2224 and let them know that you are a patentee that you are a private property owner in that area (Makena) and you want to know how to vest that up to protect your interests so that it cannot be swallowed up and somehow raked into this proposed project. So give them a call…so you can have the private enjoyment of your own kuleana…because it is your right within the law. It is your law. You are the law….”
In addition to recruiting “patentees”, Oliver speaks against GMOs and against various resort developments.
Contacted about the programs, KAOI General Manager Jack Gist emphasized, “They buy time. They are a commercial. There is no involvement (by KAOI) they are a commercial advertiser.” Asked whether his station would continue broadcasting the commercials, he said: “It is under advisement. These are allegations. I have no idea where this might go. These are allegations. I am very careful about accusing anybody.” Then Gist proceeded to lecture this reporter about journalistic ethics. He declined to answer questions about the cost of the infomercials or when he became aware of the allegations against Hawaii Loa.
An operator at KONG-AM 570 first tried to transfer a reporter to voice mail before providing the email address of the station manager and hanging up. After broadcasting on KONG, Mahealani’s website indicates she spoke to about 50-70 people October 30 at the Aloha Beach Hotel in Kapa`a.
The drive-time infomercials running on the two stations are not Oliver’s only way of reaching potential victims. Her Kaua`i announcement is carried on the anti-Superferry “Save Kaua`i” website. The announcement reads: “Mahealani and her husband, John have worked for seven years to free the Aina, restore rightful title and relieve the financial debts of people throughout Ko Hawaii Pae Aina (the entire Hawaiian archipelago). Perhaps no one has a greater knowledge of Hawaiian history, Royal Patent laws, legalities of original jurisdiction and an understanding of commerce, than Mahealani. … She is helping hundreds of families on Maui and the Big Island free themselves from debt and claim clear title to their land.”
The Kanaka Genealogy blog June 14 announces “I attend classes most every Sunday taught by Mahealani Ventura-Oliver and John Oliver. From attending those classes I’ve learned soooooooooooooooooooooooo much (get the picture?) and would like to share what I’ve learned….”
At Ikaika Hussey’s “MaoliWorld” website, Ventura-Olive’s scam is promoted over and over again with items such as “What Kanaka owns the Royal Patent under the Kealani Fairmont Hotel in Wailea Maui? “ and “Some of the reasons Kanaka can take land away” and “I am so Happy! My children have land!!!“. This last item may indicate that some of the alleged victims may also be the scam’s strongest supporters and salespeople.
Maoli World also lists several classes sponsored by HawaiiLoa foundation going back to April, 2008.
The scam also gets a plug from the MySpace site of a young Moloka`i resident who unwittingly illustrates the Cloward-Piven Strategy of manufactured crisis:
“Ever wonder how we as a people can live to exist in this society today, which we all call home, Hawaii nei. Land being developed, taxes on land getting higher, displacement of people, mommies and daddy working two jobs just to put food on the table, big families living in small houses, the prices are going thru the roofs, it's ridiculous and saddening.
“But, there is one solution out there and the only solution for these problems we are having today, "The Royal Patents". The Royal Patents were land awards given from King Kauikeaouli or Kamehameha III to the people of Hawaii. They are patent lands that are owned by these selected people and are passed down to their descendants or heirs forever and ever. They are lands which can't be sold or bought.”
At the end of his posting is the same phone number Oliver provides, but attached to a different organization: “For further information contact: Office: Aha o Na Wai Eha P.O. Box 95 Wailuku, Hi, 96793 Phone: (808) 243-2224 E-mail: TheSpinOnReality@hotmail.com or Mahealani Ventura-Oliver Title Examiner - Legal Researcher (street number deleted) Haiki Place Waiehu, Hawaii 96793 U.S. Occupied Territory of Ko Hawaii Pae 'Aina (K.H.P.A) (808) 872-0422 E-mail: TheSpinOnReality@hotmail.com”
The name “Aha o Na Wai Eha” is tied to “Ko Hawaii Pae Aina” in a November 14, 2006 Honolulu Star-Bulletin article about a protest against an affordable housing development in the Waiehu area near Wailuku, Maui which explains: “Valerie Piimauna Dukelow, one of those arrested Sunday and a member of the group Ko Hawaii Pae Aina-Aha O Na Wai Eha, said that based on a royal patent, she and the others have vested rights to the land and should be able to live on it.”
A July 20, 2006 edition of the Molokai Dispatch provides even more details of the organization explaining: “Groups working toward Hawaiian sovereignty come in many shapes and sizes. One such group from Maui paid a visit to Molokai last weekend. Ka Aha O Na Wai Eha Ku Moku O Mauiloa, often referred to as simply “the aha,” believes royal land patents from the Kingdom of Hawai`i, are still valid and the Hawaiians’ claim to all the crown lands, also known as ceded lands, is alive and well. On Saturday, July 15, Lehua Hoy, an executive member of the group, and her husband, Petro Hoy, member of a United Nations watchdog organization, made an impromptu visit to Molokai and met with a handful of Hawaiians to discuss aspects of the aha.”
In case anybody doubts the connection the article explains: “The kanaka maoli are the only true owners of the majority of land titles in the Hawaiian archipelago, and any information that contradicts this fact is a blatant lie,” said Mahealani Ventura-Oliver in a letter to the Maui News. Ventura-Oliver is one of the lead organizers of the aha. Indeed, proof supporting the argument exists. In 1990, Eric Po’ohina, of O`ahu, reclaimed ancestral lands in Hana, Maui, citing his family’s royal patent. In conjunction with his genealogy, notarized by a Hawaiian genealogical historian, the 2nd Circuit Court of Maui awarded Po`ohina the claim.” The article ends by providing the same phone number which Oliver lists on her website and in her radio commercials: “Lehua Hoy can be contacted at (808) 243-2224.”
Petro and Lehua Hoy and Eric Po`ohina are all well-know sovereignty activists.
More clues to the structure of “The Aha” come from a December 21, 2005 Maui News article describing the eviction of a squatter from Maui Land and Pineapple Co. property: “Later in the morning, (the evicted squatter Bill) Domen had a different version. In the offices of Ka Aha O Na Wai Eha Aku Moku O Maui Loa in Wailuku, he said he had been leasing “the whole gulch” from Maui Pine for 10 years for $350 a year. The Rev. Kenneth Hoopai Jr., chairman of Ka Aha, said the real owners of the land later had given Domen permission to stay. Ka Aha asserts that the genuine title rests in royal patents from the 19th century that are inextinguishable. “We’ve been sleeping so long,” said Hoopai. “We don’t want no more land being sold to anybody anymore.”
The www.HawaiianKingdom.info website follows up in April, 2006with this item:
“The Maui News reports that the trespass charge against Bill & Joann Domen has been dismissed based on a technicality. But then there's this...The Domens were supported by Ka Aha O Na Wai Eha Aku Moku O Maui Loa, a Hawaiian sovereignty group, which claimed that the real owners are not Maui Pine and had given the Domens permission to stay.
Lawyer Eugene Evans, who represented Belles, said proving title might have become an issue, if the trial had gone forward.
Lawyer David Cain, who represented Bill Domen said: ‘My client was very pleased that the court dismissed the charges against him.’
Cain had researched the title chain in preparing for the trial.
“We're going to see more and more cases of title problems," he predicted.
“FYI, Ka Aha O Na Wai Eha Aku Moku O Maui Loa is having a halawai this Friday at 7:30 at Hawaiian Canoe Club. Call 243-2224 for more info.”
In spite of all this, bloggers at the UH Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law are in full CYA mode writing: “Nothing in the (Honolulu Advertiser) article suggests that any sovereignty activists are involved in the scam. The article does however suggest that perhaps scammers have used the sovereignty movement in their elaborate scheme to commit fraud on Native Hawaiian families facing foreclosure.”
www.HawaiianKingdom.info shows Mahealani Ventura-Oliver in 2003 on a panel with convicted (and pardoned) felon Dennis 'Bumpy' Kanahele, Charlie Maxwell, OHA Maui Trustee Boyd Mossman, Issac Harp and other sovereignty activists.
The Honolulu Advertiser carries an October 21, 2003 letter to the editor from Oliver asserting that Hawai`i is not one of the United States.
The Hawaiian Kingdom site also refers to a similar letter from Oliver published in the Maui News, November 2, 2003:
Ventura-Oliver has been protesting, suing, and writing letters and articles for several years. She is currently appealing to the State Supreme Court a case against Wailuku Agribusiness over a parcel near her home in Wailuku, Maui. The Circuit Court dismissed her suit in 2003. On appeal, the Intermediate Court of Appeals in 2006 ruled: “Ventura-Oliver's argument that genuine issues of material fact existed at the time the circuit court granted Defendant-Appellee Wailuku Agribusiness, Co., Inc.'s (Wailuku) motion for summary judgment is not borne out by the record. Because she failed to demonstrate a triable issue of material fact at the time the motion was considered, the circuit court did not err in granting Wailuku's motion for summary judgment.”
If the Supreme Court decides to hear Oliver’s case, they may be interested to know that her website includes the following: “HAWAII SUPREME COURT: a fiction, alien, artificial conduit for commercial use, de facto, illegitimate, false, lacking inherent competency, lacking treaty, lacking authority, lacking power, foreign 14th amendment office of person of foreign fabrication, an administrative function without judicial powers, possessing an administrative purpose only, not authorized by treaty, office, room, public meeting hall, without jurisdiction, without inherent authority, without possession of foreign jurisdiction or subjectum, etc. of Ko Hawaii Pae Aina or it's nationals….”
On February 5, 2004 Oliver appeared before the State LUC to claim that A&B did not own the land on which it proposed to construct 138 affordable housing units on the Waiehu parcel.
On March 8, 2004 Oliver testified before the Maui County Planning and Land Use Committee against development at Makena, Maui. She is described in the minutes as “Aloha Title, Principle (sic) Title Examiner.”
The Maui News for some reason doesn’t go into the details of Oliver’s activities today, but in September, 2004 they actually sent one of their own reporters to cover Ventura-Oliver –once again she is protesting along with notorious sovereignty activist Charlie Maxwell, this time after a the same Waiehu builder mentioned in the Star-Bulletin’s 2006 article cleared and shaped a roadside mound.
In April, 2005 Haleakala Times editor Rob Lafferty wrote a front page story “about native people’s continuing concerns about who really owns the land in Hawaii.” Mahealani Ventura-Oliver is featured in the piece. A 2006 Haleakala Times retrospective includes the following: “‘Most title evidence brought forth to favor developers in the courts takes a view against the Kanaka Maoli,’ says Ventura-Oliver. She says that when civil rights were suspended for the people of Hawaii in 1893, most land transfers were voidable. ‘Without free will and civil rights, one cannot execute a conveyance lawfully.’”
A June 24, 2005 Tribe.net posting by “Mahealani Ventura-Oliver Land Title Examiner & Paralegal The Title Wave, Inc. Ko Hawaii Pae Aina” in which she claims: “There is no record of acquisition of jurisdiction of Ko Hawaii Pae Aina by the U.S. or the "state" of Hawaii. There has only been one legal passage of title; both legal and beneficial -- they are one in the same. That took place during the Mahele Aina. ONCE and ONLY ONE TIME.”
Oliver makes similar claims before the Maui County Council in August, 2005.
A September 20, 2005 letter to the editor of the Maui News from “R. Kawehi Kanui Hawaiian Law Offices Honolulu” claims that “Native Hawaiians retain a one-third right to land” and praises Oliver for, “doing what our ancestors have done since the illegal occupation in 1897.”
At an October 19, 2005 meeting on the development of Hana Ranch, the Haleakala Times reports that Oliver “brought up questions about land titles”.
The March 12, 2008 edition of the Molokai Advertiser-News reprints a letter from the Maui Coastal land Trust complaining: “We faced similar claims in our purchase of the Waihe`e Refuge lands here on Maui. Both Akahi Nui and the Sovereignty folks Mahealani Ventura Oliver works with have claimed title, although we have, according to US legal titles, clear title to all but six small Kuleana parcels.”
The Ko Hawaii Pae Aina blog announces on July, 22, 2008, “Truth & Justice in Ko Hawaii Pae Aina on Akaku Television Channel 53. This program is aired every other Monday at 7pm to 8pm. It is a live program where issues concerning Kanaka Maoli are discussed and people can call in with comments and/or questions.” The blog also announces: “They Moved! New Location!!! Bigger! 310 Hookahi St. #206 in Wailuku. Call 243-2224 for more information. To better serve you the Royal Repository Registry has moved their office right up the road from their old office. It's bigger!”
Ventura-Oliver is listed as a “person consulted” by NASA regarding the Outrigger telescope project on Mauna Kea.
Ventura-Oliver is listed as a registered portal user of www.Kauwe.org which describes itself as, “…a newly created web site provided for the purpose of keeping our ohana abreast of current happenings with the families Royal Patent, Pa'o'o, and the ongoing development of Ko Hawaii Pae Aina….”
A June 21, 2008 item posted on the Kanaka Genealogy website reads: “This addition is in honor of Mahealani Ventura Oliver who is now on Oahu with her husband John and Registrar of the Royal Repository Pili. They are there to speak at a class and have also brought Palapala Koe Nae with them, about 200, for Kanaka Maoli interested in vesting up paperwork for land.”
According to her website: “Palapala koe nae is provided on ka mokupuni o Hawaii by maoli Louis Ventura and Andrea Ventura please call 808-325-2807 to request between the hours of 9AM and 7PM. Palapala koe nae is provided on ka mokupuni o Oahu by maoli Wainani Gomes, please call 808-386-9547 to request between the hours of 10AM and 11PM. * If you need any documents to be notarized contact Wayne Y. Kaneshiro P.O. Box 456 Kula, Hawaii 96790 Office: 808-876-1135 Cell: 808-268-2713 email address firstname.lastname@example.org .” Kaneshiro did not return a message from this reporter requesting comment.
“Palapala koe nae” literally translates as “document except.” A search for the term reveals only sites promoting the scam.
Neither the DCCA nor GuideStar websites have any record of a “Hawaiiloa Foundation” or “Ko Hawaii Pae Aina”.
The Hawai`i Bureau of Conveyances lists 68 items under the name of Mahealani Ventura-Oliver.
A page of Oliver’s website is titled “Art of words and creative merging to conceal the truth.”
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