Burial Councils criticize state for alleged mismanagement of iwi kupuna

Burial Councils criticize state for alleged mismanagement of iwi kupuna
Members of the Burial Councils gathered in Honolulu Tuesday. (Source: HNN)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Burial council leaders are taking a stand, claiming authorities aren’t backing up their work to preserve ancestral bones.

The chairs of the Island Burial Councils are protesting what they say is the state’s mismanagement of ancient remains.

The burial councils represent each island and are dedicated to preservation of Hawaiian burial sites, or iwi kupuna.

They say mismanagement by the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) has undermined their authority, and the state has failed in enforcement.

They are calling attention to a recent audit of the SHPD, which highlight a lack of leadership, employee discord, and a significant backlog of project reviews, further impacting the protection of Hawaii’s unmarked burial sites.

They’re proposing legislative action to fix the problems.

“We take no pleasure in having to come here and criticize the actions of the state historic preservation division but we are left with no choice,” burial expert Edward Halealoha Ayau said.

In response, the State Historic Preservation Division says it’s committed to administration of the burial program and compliance. It says it’ll work to improve communication and training.

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