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Traditional Gathering Rights

Q: What rights do native Hawaiians have with respect to beach and shoreline access to practice traditional gathering rights?

A:  Native Hawaiian gathering rights are addressed in HRS §§1-1 and 7-1, and in Article 12 §7 of the Constitution of the State of Hawaiʻi.  In order to legally exercise these constitutionally protected native Hawaiian rights of gathering, a person must establish the following three factors.

  • (1) He or she must qualify as “native Hawaiian” within the guidelines set out in Public Access Shoreline Hawaii (PASH) v. Hawai’i County Planning Com’n, 903 P.2d 1246, 1270 (Haw. 1995).
  • (2) Once qualified as a native Hawaiian, he or she must then establish that his or her claimed right is constitutionally protected as a customary or traditional native Hawaiian practice.  Id.
  • (3) He or she must also prove that the exercise of the right will occur on undeveloped or “less than fully developed property.”  Id.
  • See also section regarding landmark cases.


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