Native Hawaiians are beneficiaries of four charitable trusts established by ali‘i (chiefs). Each of these trusts was intended to address a specific social need: Kamehameha Schools/Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate, education; the Queen Lili‘uokalani Trust, care for orphans and indigent children; the King William Charles Lunalilo Trust, care for the impoverished elderly; and the Queen Emma Trust, medical care. In recent years, Native Hawaiians have been increasingly obliged to defend the trusts against legal challenges.
Kamehameha Schools, in particular, has been the object of several lawsuits, partly because Ke Aliʻi Pauahi’s legacy has become one of the wealthiest and most influential private trusts in the United States. Much of this chapter is devoted to describing and analyzing the various controversies that have arisen. The other three trusts, although less prosperous, have also encountered legal difficulties, which this chapter likewise explains.
Among the issues involved have been the appointment of trustees, the trusts’ financial arrangements, the uses of trust lands, and the question of whether persons other than Native Hawaiians are entitled to benefit from the trusts’ services. In this context, the provisions of the benefactors’ wills and the relevant judicial rulings are closely examined.
“Ali‘i Trusts: Native Hawaiian Charitable Trusts” is Chapter 19 of Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise, a volume that updates and expands on the seminal work of the 1991 Native Hawaiian Rights Handbook. The publication is a collaborative effort of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law at the William S. Richardson School of Law – University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and Kamehameha Publishing.