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Lana‘i residents voice hopes, concerns about life with new island owner

July 5, 2012
The Maui Weekly

The Maui News - The 3,200 people living on the rural Hawaiian island being purchased by billionaire Oracle Corp CEO Larry Ellison would like to see him provide residents of Lana'i with stable jobs and affordable housing with no onerous restrictions on hunting or fishing. They also request a return to agriculture and improved transportation to Maui, O'ahu and other islands, given the Lana'i airport's limited flight offerings. They want even simple things, such as the reopening of the community pool.

They hope he's willing to sit down, listen to their concerns and be sensitive to the unique culture of Hawai'i.

Lana'i residents are largely dependent on whoever owns 98 percent of the island's 141 square miles. Without tourism, the economic engine that's driven the island under its previous billionaire owner, the "Pineapple Island" doesn't have much.

The constant fear is what happens if the new owner doesn't renew leases on rented homes, closes a hotel or decides he's had enough and sells, community leaders said.

Kepa Maly, executive director of the Lana'i Culture & Heritage Center, said, "The history of Lana'i since Western contact is littered with the graves of unsuccessful Western business interests. I can't believe someone buying the island today would be able to get richer off of it."

Ellison has yet to fully reveal his plans for the island, but his representatives have assured the state senator who represents Lana'i that the high-tech CEO and world-renowned sailor has no plans for radical changes and will be sensitive to the culture of the island.



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