Arguably one of the most unique things to do in Hawaii, the Molokai mule ride down to Kalaupapa could soon be a thing of the past if the two-year long legal dispute between R.W. Meyer and Kalaupapa Rare Adventures (KRA) isn’t resolved.
The heart of the issue is land ownership, with both sides saying they are the rightful owners.
“We own the land. R.W. Meyer does. We have deeds that go back to when we first purchased lands in 1800s,” said Paul Meyer president of R.W. Meyer Ltd.
Kalehua Sproat-Augustiro’s family has run the mule rides for decades. According to her, the land belongs to her family.
“Molokai Mule Ride LLC operates the guided tours into Kalaupapa. our ohana holds the allodial title to the land that the business is on therefor, as true land holders, we are not responsible for paying rent to anyone,” Sproat-Augustiro said.
For more than 40 years R.W. Meyer leased lands for the mule rides.
Their lease with KRA expired in January 31, 2017. They said they haven’t received any rent in over a year and do not have a lease agreement with KRA or Molokai Mule Rides LLC.
“We have been trying our best to negotiate with KRA,” Meyer said. “They have, in fact, turned us down many times. We tried mediation they didn’t respond at all to us. They left us nothing or no avenues except to evict them.”
R.W. Meyer said they served the eviction notice to KRA on March 20, 2018. Sproat-Augustiro said a writ was never served upon KRA or any of its agents or members.
Meyer said they are willing to give the mule ride time to move their business off the property, but they do expect them to leave.
Sproat-Augustiro said they are not giving up their land.
“We look forward to the issue being settle in court. Until then, we will remain on our aina.”
For now, the Kalaupapa Mule Tour website still up and continues to accept reservations.
Sproat-Augustiro said her business is operating legally and they will continue to take guided mule tours. They will honor all existing reservations and future reservations are welcomed.