Discovery of iwi complicates construction of Laie hotel - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Discovery of iwi complicates construction of Laie hotel

Eric Beaver Eric Beaver
LAIE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A sacred discovery is complicating the construction of a new hotel on Oahu's North Shore. Workers found what are believed to be Hawaiian remains, or iwi, at the site of the future Courtyard by Marriott in Laie.

The new hotel is going up next to the Polynesian Cultural Center on the site of the old Laie Inn. The land manager said no bones were found during the archaeological survey for the environmental assessment that was completed before construction started earlier this year.

On December 9, a subcontractor came across the bones while digging out the area for the hotel pool. The land manager said the workers notified the project's archaeologist who then contacted the state.

"Basically immediately covered the bones, I understand, in some muslin cloth and put a lauhala basket cover over them," explained Eric Beaver, president of Hawaii Reserves, Inc.

Hawaii News Now has learned that the workers found some teeth and part of a human jaw. Beaver said the subcontractor halted all construction around the pool which is in the middle of the hotel property.

The State Historic Preservation Division is working with the project's archaeologist and the Oahu Island Burial Council. There is no timeline for a decision by the state.

"I think they're trying to determine whether the bones should be left in place or reinterred somewhere on the site or off the site," said Beaver.

Some are concerned that the discovery could be part of a larger burial site.

"I have no idea as to whether there are more bones in the area. I don't get that sense so far from what we've heard, but we're working with the contractor," Beaver said.

The 144-room hotel is slated to open next summer. Beaver said the project is still on schedule for now.

"With the holidays upon us and Christmas season, it's probably at this point okay, but I think that my guess is probably in January they would like to have a determination made," he said.

Hawaii Reserves, Inc. prefers that the iwi be relocated to a cemetery in the community that the company also manages. HRI is in charge of the property belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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