- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 13, 2016

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - Bishop Museum officials say they are looking to find a new owner for the museum’s land in the Waipio Valley who understands the cultural and historic significance of the agricultural area.

The museum intends to sell its 547 acres in Waipio, which makes up more than 50 percent of the valley, as well as the Amy B.H. Ethnobotanical Garden in Captain Cook. The properties were valued together at $10 million a few years ago, said museum CEO Blair Collis.

The land was gifted to the museum over a century ago, and was intended to be a land asset endowment, West Hawaii Today and The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1RkTtMT).

“At the time, it was generating revenues from taro production,” said Collis. “That is not now the case, and hasn’t been for decades.”

Lawmakers, museum officials and the Waipaio Valley community have been involved in discussions surrounding a possible sale of the land for years. Collis said the goal now is to find someone who will be a better steward of the land.

“The real question for us has been is Bishop Museum the right steward for these lands? We’re not a land manager, we’re a museum,” Collis said. “We want to find new custodians who understand the cultural and historic significance of this land, and we are committed to finding a better steward of that land.”

There are about 40 working farms leasing some of the museum’s land, said Jim Cain, a member of the Waipio Valley Stakeholders Alliance. The stakeholders group was organized a few years ago in response to the possibility of a land sale.

Cain said the community wants to “ensure that Waipio remains in the caring hands of the Waipio families, where it has been for centuries.”

“It literally touches thousands of people. . Many families in the state can trace their ancestry back to Waipio,” he said. “Around the state, you can find very fond aloha for Waipio.”

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