East Hawaii News

Eight Arrested for Squatting Claim Hawaiian Sovereignty

August 14, 2015, 2:46 PM HST
* Updated August 14, 6:10 PM
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Eight Puna residents face first-degree criminal trespassing charges after illegally squatting in a Kurtistown home while claiming Hawaiian Sovereignty rights.

Among those arrested Friday include Tiana Kaniaupio, 19; Sarah Kanuha, 35;Herman Elderts Jr., 37; Shaun Kanuha, 40; Victoria Elderts, 58; Herman Elderts Sr., 65; William Elderts, 73; Barbara Elderts, 83.

According to police, officials surrounded the home and prepared to force themselves into the house if necessary.

The occupants then voluntarily opened the door and were arrested but refused to be fingerprinted or photographed, claiming Hawaiian Sovereignty.

No children were present, according to police.

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The Humane Society was contacted to remove seven dogs from the property.

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According to Hawai’i County officals, the arrests occurred after an extended effort by Savio Realty to remove former tenants and others from a foreclosed home on Kapalai Road in Kurtistown.

State sheriffs later served an eviction notice to the individuals on July 25.

Police said several of the adults were confrontational, refusing to identify themselves, but all 12 people left the property with their belongings. The realtor, acting on behalf of a bank that owns the home, later changed the locks on the doors.

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On Aug. 5, police conducted a check of the house after hearing that one of the homes had been reoccupied after the eviction.

Police said they saw a woman outside the house who immediately went inside, secured the door and refused to come out, arguing that she had Hawaiian Sovereignty rights.

Police said they overheard people inside the home and told them at that time they would be returning. They later returned to the home on Friday to make the arrests.

Their bail is set at $1,000 each.

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