Native Hawaiian protest to prevent construction on ancient burial site

NAUE, Kauai (KHNL) - Luxury home construction in the prime areas of the islands have been booming over the past couple decades. Kanaka Maoli (native Hawaiians) from all over Hawaii gathered on the residential property of Joseph Brescia in a dramatic attempt to stop further luxury home construction over an ancient Hawaiian cemetery on Kauai's North Shore.

Over 30 protestors and cultural practitioners from Oahu, Maui, Molokai and Hawaii arrived Thursday morning and secured themselves to each other and the property. It is estimated that it will take law enforcement authorities and several hours in an attempt to remove them.

"Our goal is to make them forcefully remove us," said protestor Andre Perez of Pohaku O Kane. "This is not just about Kauai. We're serious about protecting our iwi kupuna, our 'aina, and our lahui."

The property, formerly owned by actor Sylvester Stallone, and purchased by California luxury homebuilder Joseph Brescia seven years ago, is considered culturally sacred. It contains at least thirty ancient burials as well as numerous artifacts. With legal challenges currently in progress, previous protests stopped construction until recently when concrete was poured directly over the well-documented bones of ancient Hawaiians on the property.

"We're sick of rich foreigners coming over here and destroying the resting places of our families," stated Keli'i Collier. "Hawaiians do not desecrate the graves of others, why do they desecrate ours?"

Construction of a home or any other substantive structure on a cemetary is considered an extreme cultural affront. The claim of property ownership is also in dispute because specific Hawaiians can trace their families having lived on that parcel going back centuries. No clear title of the property exists throughout Hawaii.