New problems arise at popular West Maui beach park closed to protect iwi kupuna

Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 9:07 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 26, 2021 at 9:10 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A popular beach park in West Maui has been closed indefinitely because of erosion and to protect exposed Hawaiian burials.

However, since the park’s closure in January, residents say homeless people have moved in — causing a new set of problems.

“We’ve found fecal matter along the shoreline that we’ve reporter to DLNR,” said Puamana Community Association General Manager April Lord. “We’ve also had to clean up extra debris left behind by the transient population.”

Lord says there are about 230 homes right next to the beach park. She says her residents understand why the park is closed but believe it can still be managed properly.

“This is a really good example of what could happen to all of our shoreline if the county is complacent and doesn’t take action,” Lord said.

West Maui resident Keeaumoku Kapu has been keeping track of the Hawaiian burial sites, or iwi kupuna, found at Puamana Beach Park for years.

“I would say maybe possibly three individuals or four individuals total,” Kapu said. “I know there are three skulls.”

Kapu discovered some of the remains himself and is glad the county closed the park to protect the bones. Nevertheless, he realizes the frustrations it has caused.

“When it comes to the surfers, I understand. They just want to enjoy their liberties and life here in Puamana. But now that we have these adverse effects, I think we all have to come together to try to figure out solutions,” said Kapu.

County officials said homeless outreach providers have consistently visited encampments and engaged with the unsheltered individuals.

“They have been offered services to end their homelessness. Some have engaged and others have not,” said Mayor Michael Victorino’s Communications Director Brian Perry.

State Representative for the area, Angus McKelvey, said his constituents are frustrated and feel as if their concerns aren’t being heard.

“We’ve been consistently communicating, sending pleas, along with the community, which is frustrating because nothing is being done,” said McKelvey.

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