HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A state appellate court today ordered Kawaiahao Church to halt all construction on its $17.5 million center after hundreds of burials were uncovered at the site.
The Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals issued a preliminary injunction after the state Supreme Court in August put a temporary stop to the city's $5.3 billion rail transit project.
"The wheels of justice are starting to turn slowly but now it's turning in the right direction," said Dana Naone Hall, a Maui cultural practitioner who sued to stop construction at the church.
"Now, we have a chance to prevent ... the excavation of many hundreds more."
Hawaii News Now first reported last month that the church had unearthed as many as 579 remains at the site of Kawaiahao Church's multipurpose center.
The burial discovery -- which comes after the church unearthed more than 69 remains in 2009 -- is one of the largest ever, experts have said.
Friday's decision was in direct response to the state Supreme Court ruling in August to halt the city's rail transit project. The High Court said then that the city did not conduct a full archeological inventory on the entire 20-mile rail system before it started construction.
In her case, Hall alleged that Kawaiahao Church worked with the state to circumvent the need to conduct a similar archeological inventory survey.
A Kawaiahao Church said it is reviewing the decision and is reviewing its options.