North Shore heiau center of desecration allegation

North Shore heiau center of desecration allegation
Published: Mar. 17, 2015 at 6:05 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 17, 2015 at 10:00 PM HST
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An ancient Hawaiian fishing heiau near Waimea Bay is documented in Hawaiian oral traditions, literature and archaeological surveys. A rock wall surrounds the heiau.

"There's numerous archaeological features here," anthropologist and Waialua resident Malia Evans said.

On Saturday, Evans brought UH students to see it and found boulders piled high along one side of the heiau.

"They are laying on the heiau walls," she said. "It just boggles the mind that someone could actually just go ahead and bring these boulders in without thinking the effects and the consequences are on this sacred place."

Landowner John Collins lives in California. He insists he purchased the parcel to protect the heiau from trespassers and homeless squatters. He had a Hawaiian group set up the boulders as a barrier to block unauthorized access.

"Not a pebble was taken or disturbed. And they were exceptionally careful to maintain that. We did not want to be in any way desecrating that site," he said by telephone from Dana Point, CA.

Hawaiian cultural practitioner and master lei maker Moki Labra believes the boulders polluted the purity of the heiau

"It is our connection with the Kupuna as well as the ocean as well as Ke Akua," he said.

Evans said on Sunday she cleared vegetation to look for damage to the heiau.

"And we did find damage," she said. "There was some damage in the corner and a rock had fallen over and been damaged."

Collins questions whether Evans desecrated the site when she cleared the vegetation.  A neighbor sent him a photograph of her working on the rocks. He said he consulted with archaeologists years ago about how best to prevent trespassers from getting into the heiau.  He said Bishop Museum recommended a chain link fence but he opted for boulders.

"We tried to do everything right," he said. "We tried to keep it so it would not be desecrated."

Evans and Labra want the boulders removed.

"For me as a Hawaiian, I don't think anyone can own a heiau," Evans said.

Collins said he also believes the heiau is a sacred site. He did not get a permit to pile the boulders on his property. He said the structure isn't a wall but a stack of rocks. The Department of Planning and Permitting is investigating.

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