Amid concerns about ancient burials, Maui council OKs moratorium - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Amid concerns about ancient burials, Maui council OKs moratorium on sand mining

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KAHULUI, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) -

In a 7-to-2 vote, the Maui County Council has passed a six-month moratorium on sand mining in Central Maui.

The issue has angered Hawaiian and environmental activists who say there are ancient burials in the sand.  

Before the vote Friday, activists demonstrated in hopes of getting their voices heard.

"This is about disrespect for the culture and the people who own this land," said Clare Apana, of Malama Kakanilua.

Activists say they're angry about the county's renewed grading and grubbing permit for Maui Lani Partners, even though the company has said their activities are overseen by archeological monitors and follow government plans. The company did not return HNN's calls for comment.

County Councilwoman Elle Cochran measure calls for more study of the area because iwi kupuna, or Hawaiian burials, have been found in the dunes.

"It's a combination of the environmental and cultural desecration of Maui. Not only is it a precious resource, sand has that taken hundreds of thousands of years to develop, but it is a burial ground," said Adriane Raff-Corwin of Sierra Club Maui.

During Friday's hearing, council members debated how far of an area the moratorium extends and specific exemptions for land owners wanting to grade their property. Only supporters of the moratorium showed up to testify while in the past land owners and developers have opposed the moratorium.

"Mayor Arakawa is 100-percent against taking sand resources from Maui and shipping them off island ... the extension of this (Maui Lani's) permit is not unusual, as we are not aware of any violations as far as their grading work is concerned," said Maui county Rod Antone, in a statement. The measure now goes to Arakawa's desk.

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