On Friday, February 9, 2018 the Hawaii State Supreme Court ruled (4-1 majority) that the Hawaii State Legislature is only required to fund the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) the amount that the delegates of the 1978 Hawaii State Constitutional Convention estimated it takes in administration and operating expenses, adjusted for inflation. The majority said in its opinion that when the 1978 delegates approved a constitutional amendment requiring the Legislature to make sufficient sums available for the administration and operating budget of DHHL, they estimated that the annual cost at that time was between $1.3 million and $1.6 million. 

“The Department’s kuleana to do everything possible to seek sufficient funds so that we can deliver on Prince Kuhio’s vision and DHHL’s mission remains. We continue to work with our beneficiaries and the Legislature to secure these needed resources so that native Hawaiian families and our homestead communities are provided with the critical support that they need in the areas of housing, clean drinking water, community resiliency and empowerment, and safe and healthy communities. Together with beneficiaries and the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation we fought for a positive outcome.  We appreciate the support of the Governor and the Legislature and will continue to work with them on funding to support the Hawaiian Home Lands program.  The Department is very disappointed in the courts decision on the Nelson case and will confer with counsel on this matter.” – Jobie M.K. Masagatani, Chairman, Hawaiian Homes Commission and Director, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands

Statement on ruling from Governor David Y. Ige:

“I’m glad the Court has ruled. I standby the supplemental budget request I submitted this year because the funding is needed to fulfill the department’s mission.” – David Y. Ige, Governor, State of Hawaii

Note: Governor David Y. Ige included $25.1 million for the Department of Hawaiian Homelands in the FY19 Supplemental Operating Budget request.


Media articles related to the Hawaii State Supreme Court ruling:

StarAdvertiser: Hawaii Supreme Court rules for state in DHHL dispute

HawaiiNewsNow: State Supreme Court – Hawaiian Home Lands entitled to far less than what lower court ruled

BigIslandNow: Hawaii Supreme Court Adjusts Amount State Owes DHHL

Nelson vs. Hawaiian Homes Commission Links:

Nelson Case Summary (PDF Version)
Nelson vs. HHC Case Ruling FAQ’s
Nelson Case FAQ’s (PDF Version)
Call to Action: Nelson Case & DHHL Budget