Broken Trust: Greed, Mismanagement, and Political Manipulation at America’s Largest Charitable Trust
336pp. March 2006
Broken Trust: Greed, Mismanagement, and Political Manipulation at America’s Largest Charitable Trust
Author: King, Samuel P.; Roth, Randall W.;
Winner of the Samuel M. Kamakau Award for Hawai‘i Book of the Year, 2007 Ka Palapala Po‘okela Book Awards

Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop was the largest landowner and richest woman in the Hawaiian kingdom. Upon her death in 1884, she entrusted her property--known as Bishop Estate--to five trustees in order to create and maintain an institution that would benefit the children of Hawai‘i: Kamehameha Schools. A century later, Bishop Estate controlled nearly one out of every nine acres in the state, a concentration of private land ownership rarely seen anywhere in the world. Then in August 1997 the unthinkable happened: Four revered kupuna (native Hawaiian elders) and a professor of trust-law publicly charged Bishop Estate trustees with gross incompetence and massive trust abuse. Entitled "Broken Trust," the statement provided devastating details of rigged appointments, violated trusts, cynical manipulation of the trust’s beneficiaries, and the shameful involvement of many of Hawai‘i’s powerful.

No one is better qualified to examine the events and personalities surrounding the scandal than two of the original "Broken Trust" authors. Their comprehensive account together with historical background, brings to light information that has never before been made public, including accounts of secret meetings and communications involving Supreme Court justices.

95 illus.

For more information on Broken Trust, visit
A Latitude 20 Book
Award of Excellence for Nonfiction and Honorable Mention for Hawaiian Culture, 2007 Ka Palapala Po‘okela Book Awards

"This book is a milestone in our state's history. . . . As a citizen and lifelong student of politics in Hawaii, I want to thank Judge King and Professor Roth for their great gift of truth. Let us hope their gift is not wasted or forgotten." —Ted Hong, Honolulu Star-Bulletin (4 July 2006)

"Almost certainly Hawaii's book of the year, a morality tale for each and every one of us." —Spirit of Aloha

"A sensitive and insightful story of Hawaiian culture and history ... evolving into a stunning, uniquely informed exposé about shameless abuse of charitable trust and shameful failure of public institutions." —Professor Edward Halbach, University of California at Berkeley School of Law

"Broken Trust chronicles a 100-year saga about politics, law, and native rights in the Fiftieth State. There are people on all sides of this conflict who would have preferred that the story be left behind, swept under the rug, or just ignored. This book is a warning to the future and a lesson on governance, power, and the management of big institutions." —Peter Adler, President, The Keystone Center

"The Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate saga, the most significant legal dispute of our time ... a tale of unbridled ambition, infectious greed, and high drama, recounted in a fascinating cultural context ... a treat for anyone who enjoyed Michener’s Hawaii." —Howard M. McCue III, Chairman, Charitable Planning Committee, American College of Trust and Estate Counsel

"With the verve and insight of a Tom Wolfe, the authors expose the full range of human folly and bravery. Broken Trust shows what happens when the immovable object of greed is met by the irresistible force of virtue." —Professor Evelyn Brody, Chicago-Kent College of Law, Reporter for the American Law Institute project, The Law of Nonprofit Organizations

"This book is required reading. Anyone—and I mean anyone—who regulates major charities or sits on their boards yet fails to read this book from cover to cover deserves to be fired for malpractice. Broken Trust is a textbook lesson in charitable trust mismanagement." —Alan Morrison, Co-founder with Ralph Nader, Public Citizen Litigation Group; Senior Lecturer, Stanford Law School

"The book is quite extraordinary. I'm amazed at the level of detail—both in terms of the information and [the authors’] willingness to share it given the politicized nature of the subject matter. I’m also astonished that, with so much factual information, the book is incredibly engaging. It reads like a story—with the figure of B.P. Bishop looming silently in the background—rather than a historical text. Perhaps most importantly, I appreciate the apparent balance represented in the work. My inclination is to be sympathetic to the plight of Native Hawaiians. Yet, whenever I began to think the book reflected a pro-Western bias, the pendulum would swing almost immediately in the other direction. Or, maybe, it's just that I began to see as I turned the pages, how the issues surrounding the Bishop Estate and Native Hawaiians are not black and white, but clouded with all sorts of complications and shades of gray." —Professor Trina Jones, Duke University School of Law

Author: King, Samuel P.; Roth, Randall W.;
Samuel P. King is Senior U.S. District Judge, District of Hawai‘i, appointed in 1972, following eleven years as a Hawai‘i State Circuit Court judge. Randall W. Roth is professor of law at the University of Hawai‘i.

Read the introduction (PDF).


Foreword by Gladys Kamakaküokalani Brandt

Introduction by David Shapiro

1 Princess for a New Hawai‘i

2 A Culture Suppressed

3 "Where Are All the Hawaiian-Looking Ones?"

4 Newfound Wealth, Cultural Rebirth, Seeds of Discontent

5 The Trust Plays Politics as Activism Grows

6 Shell-Shocked Lottery Winners

7 The "Black and Blue" Panel

8 Five Fingers, One Hand

9 The Education Trustee

10 "We Must March!"

11 A Tinderbox Waiting for a Match

12 Time to Say "No More"

13 Like Investigating the CIA

14 Mistrust and Paranoia

15 A World Record for Breaches of Trust

16 "That’s Just the Way You Do It"

17 Public Pressure Forces a Political Shift

18 Trustees Surrounded

19 End of the Line

20 "Healing" and "Closure"

21 Eternal Vigilance

Afterword by Jan Hanohano Dill

Appendix: The Charitable Trust Provisions of Princess Pauahi’s Will and Two Codicils

Credits for Photographs and Editorial Cartoons