Noelani Ahia of Malama Kakanilua details what led to today’s motion by the Maui Lanai Island Burial Council to request a stop work order for a controversial project within the Puuone Sand Dune Complex in Central Maui – a place known to contain numerous kupuna iwi and the site of the famous Battle of Kakanilua. Most distressing to descendants of the area is that ten burials were disturbed during the COVID-19 emergency stay at home order, reports Ahia, and this was major factor in securing the Burial Council’s support.

Read the full text Press Release sent to us by Malama Kakanilua, Aha Moku o Wailuku and descendants of the burials below:

MAY 20, 2020

Maui Lanaʻi Island Burial Council (Burial council) today voted to request the State Historic Preservation Division enforce against violations of the Archaeological Monitoring Plan violations at Waiko Light Industrial located within the southern portion of the Central Maui Pu’uone Sand Dune Complex, a long recognized area with a high concentration of burials.

    The COVID-19 emergency rules included stay at home orders for the community. However, Mayor Victorino allowed construction activities to  be considered essential activities and construction activities did continue at the Waiko Light Industrial project. During this time, ten iwi kūpuna, bones of the ancestors, were disturbed and desecrated. It is this descrecation that prompted the Burial Council’s vote.

      Community group Mālama Kakanilua, Aha Moku ʻo Wailuku as well as descendants of the burials have been calling on the Mayor, the department of public works and the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) to put an immediate halt to the project due to the high number of burials that have been desecrated since February 27, 2020. The descendents are beside them self with distress as the quarantine places their ability to effectively advocate in jeopardy. The rights and due process of the public are being usurped in favor of development desires and greed.

    SHPD Mauiʻs lead archeologist Andrew McCallister told the Burial Council that he was awaiting Burial Council guidance to send a letter requesting a stop work order of the County for the project. After they made a motion to request a stop work order, Mr. McCallister said “I can send that out today,” referring to his letter to the county which outlines the violations and prompts the county to place a stop work order.

    It took weeks of advocacy to get any department to take action but thanks to the support of OHAʻs compliance division and their letter to SHPD highlighting the AMP violations and the MLIBC,the people were able to make headway in the protection of the ancestors. For the Kānaka Maoli people, iwi kūpuna are essential.

(Corrected 20/05/2020 20:35 – date mt)