Hilo man arrested after illegal planting of coconut palms in East Hawai‘i recreation area

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A Hilo man was arrested on Sunday after attempting to plant 165 keiki coconut palms in the middle of the Wailoa River State Recreation Area. This is the fourth time over the past nine years Gene Tamashiro has been cited or arrested for leading the planting of the so-called “Kanaka Garden.”

DLNR removes coconut palms illegally planted in the Wailoa River State Park Recreation Area on Sunday, Dec. 18. (Photo credit: DLNR)

According to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Tamashiro was gathered with a group at the Bishop Street entrance to Wailoa River State Recreation Area and appeared to be in the process of planting palm trees in the park grounds. At 1:20 p.m., a DOCARE officer observed Tamashiro excavating the ground and then planting a juvenile coconut palm near the rear of the Kamehameha Statue. He was arrested about an hour later.

Tamashiro was charged with Destruction/Disturbance of Geological Features without a Permit and Planting/introducing new plants. Both violations carry a petty misdemeanor penalty. He was booked into the Hawai‘i Police Department cell block until he posted $500 bail.

Tamashiro has a court appearance in Hilo District Court on Jan. 10, 2023. He posted the planting and his arrest on the Facebook page, Aloha Nation Live.


In 2013, Tamashiro and several others were cited following an illegal planting operation in the park. In Jan. 2021, the 65-year-old man, was again cited for three violations of Hawai‘i Administrative Rules for planting several hundred plants. A crew from the DLNR Division of State Parks removed illegally planted taro and banana trees at that time.

Ten days later, on Jan. 17, 2021, he was arrested at Iolani Palace after scaling and jumping the fence, after being denied permission to gather with supporters to mark the anniversary of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom. The palace and its grounds were closed on Sundays at that time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


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