Group demands Kahului housing project stop digging for iwi kupuna

Published: Dec. 31, 2019 at 5:42 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Maui group is demanding that a housing development in Kahului stop digging for burials.

It’s a project that was previously halted by a judge earlier this year.

About a dozen residents gathered this week on Maui Lani Parkway at the entrance to the Towne Realty subdivison. They’re are demanding that the archaeologists for developer Maui Lani not search for burials at its construction site in Kahului until less invasive studies can be completed.

“So you can deal with us or we can deal with you. Kapu aloha or as other means,” said Kaniloa Kamaunu, of Malama Kakanilua.

A plaintiff in a legal battle against the developer, state and county, Noelani Ahia, claims 180 iwi kupuna have already been disturbed by construction.

More recently, ground penetrating radar found roughly 300 anomalies.

"So it could be a pohaku, an old utility line or it could be iwi and of course the probability that it's iwi is very high in that area because of the concentration," she said.

This week was the scheduled start of “ground truthing.” It’s work by either hand-digging within 2 feet of an anomaly or removing top soil with a backhoe to investigate.

"Until an archaeological inventory survey is done, we feel we shouldn’t do any movement or digging of any kind that will disturb iwi kupuna in this area,' said Ahia.

HBT at Maui Lani had no comment about the latest demands or its timeline for work.

In previous statements and court hearings, the company said it looked forward to working with the plaintiff to address the issues requested by the court, and that a stop in construction would delay much needed housing and cost the company millions of dollars.

Ahia says company attorneys told her ground truthing work was scheduled to start Monday, but a letter from archaeologists said it was to start this Thursday.

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