City Mistakenly Unearths Ancient Hawaiian Remains - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

City Mistakenly Unearths Ancient Hawaiian Remains

Henry Hopfe Henry Hopfe

By Beth Hillyer

WAIANAE (KHNL) - Despite a warning from the Department of Land and Natural Resources, city workers unearthed ancient Hawaiian remains on Oahu's leeward coast.

To make matters worse, some Makaha families say it's at a place where work crews should have known better.

They e-mailed our Talk Story link at khnl.com.

Family members maintain this is a well documented historical site. They claim the city is well aware of the burials, that's the reason the city bought the property back in the 1980's.

Pokii whose ancestors are buried here stands guard. He and other family members covered up and flagged each bone fragment.

Now they maintain a vigil.

This ground has a long history as hallowed to native Hawaiians including Henry Hopfe, "It's sacred to us especially this burial, our ancestors date back to Niihau."

They feared city crews had gone too far so they started a grid search. "Right away my brother Vern was looking at it and said, what is that? Is that a dog bone?. No brudda my hair stands up. That human I know right away."

Knowing about the documented burial sites, in the 1980's the city purchased the property to protect it from development. it became neglected and overgrown.

Neighbors complained about rats and the threat of a brushfire. So city workers came in to clean it up and according to the families went too far.

Family members complain there was no cultural monitor on site. And they want the workers to do what's right, "The gentleman who did the desecration we feel he needs to physically come apologize to the family and kupuna."

Today the city apologized saying it was unintentional.

Hopfe concludes, "We want them here final resting place don't want them re-interred someplace else."

Last month the Department of Land and Natural Resources warned the city not to touch the known burial mounds and not to do any work nearby without a monitor in place . The city will talk with the lineal descendents to reach an agreement on how to re-inter the remains.

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