Hawaii State Senate commemorates Councilman Kalani Schutte

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<p>Hawaii Island’s Schutte ‘ohana are surrounded by the 2013 State Senate for the presentation of a commemorative certificate honoring the contributions of the late Spencer Kalani Schutte. Family members are, from second left, daughter Bonnie Sanchez, Kimberly and son Zanga Schutte, daughter Wendy Jeffery, son Guy Schutte, Sen. Malama Solomon, wife Louella Schutte and daughter Tita Charlynn Taniguchi. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE OFFICE OF SEN. MALAMA SOLOMON)</p>

The 2013 Hawaii State Senate commemorated the lasting contributions of the late rancher-turned-Hawaii County Councilman Spencer Kalani Schutte during its floor session Thurs., March 7. Senators presented his family with a Certificate of Recognition for his legacy of advocacy for the less fortunate.

“Councilman Kalani Schutte was a giant of a man — in part due to his remarkable physical presence. This 6-foot 4-inch, 300-pound native Hawaiian stood head and shoulders over most. But for those who knew him, he possessed something even bigger – a kind heart for those less fortunate, and his immense contributions to them continue to serve and benefit many,” said Sen. Malama Solomon (Senate District 4- Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona) who presented the certificate to Schutte’s Hawaii Island family.

Born on the island of Oahu, Schutte played football at Roosevelt High, and then became a motorcycle patrolman in the metro squad in 1962. While with the police department, Officer Schutte helped introduce the first canine unit to Hawaii.

When Schutte moved to Hawaii Island, he worked construction, skippered a fishing boat, and operated “Kalani’s Drive Inn.” But his interest in stewardship of land and cattle eventually drove him to become a rancher on a sprawling Hawaiian Homes pastoral lease on the edge of Waimea town. He also operated a slaughter house and meat market, and later expanded to become a hog farmer, operating one of the largest, most progressive piggeries in the state. During that time, he became a leader in the Hawaii Cattleman’s Association, helping to lay a solid organizational foundation for Hawaii’s beef industry.

Then, in 1980, Schutte was elected to the Hawaii County Council, representing Waimea and North and South Kohala, and he presided as the Council Vice Chairman and Chairman from July 1992 to December 1994.

While serving on the Hawaii County Council, Schutte created numerous public-private partnerships to build low-cost housing. He is credited with adding more than 1,000 affordable housing units in Waimea, Waikoloa, Kawaihae, North Kohala and Hamakua. He was also instrumental in establishing the island’s first domestic violence shelter in Hilo. Before that, abused women had to be housed in police station jail cells for their safety.

He insisted the resorts contribute both affordable housing and other community services, including securing the donation of a helicopter for emergency response. And even today, his “fair share” vision lives on as the community of Waimea is asking the 2013 Legislature to help bring a 30-year dream of a Waimea District Park to fruition on land secured by then Councilman Schutte in exchange for a major Parker Ranch rezoning, said Solomon.

Councilman Schutte also served on the volunteer board that ultimately created the public-private partnership that built North Hawaii Community Hospital, and he was responsible for securing the funding to build Waimea Community Center, which is constantly used for family and community events.

Councilman Schutte lost a long battle with cancer in November 2000, but he has not been forgotten. On Feb. 2, a prestigious new honor was bestowed on him as one of the founding members of the Waimea group, “Na Po‘e I Ha‘awi Aku — The People Who Gave.”