Maui mayor apologizes for saying there's 'no such thing' as sacred rocks

Published: Mar. 3, 2017 at 7:01 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 3, 2017 at 10:51 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Maui's mayor is apologizing to Native Hawaii practitioners for saying there's "no such thing" as sacred rocks, but isn't saying sorry for using boulders removed from Iao Valley during repair work.

"What I won't apologize for is for standing up for our county workers who put in long hours trying to protect our community," said Arakawa, in an editorial in Maui News. "I won't apologize for trying to help the residents of Iao Valley and those living along our flood control. I won't apologize for using the same boulders from Iao Valley to repair our public infrastructure."

Arakawa's comments about sacred rocks last month during a Hawaii News Now interview set off a firestorm of criticism from Native Hawaiians activists, practitioners and lawmakers. They demanded an apology and that apology came in Friday's editorial.

"Frustrated and angry, I lashed out with my 'no sacred rocks' interview on live television," he said. "Unfortunately, I offended true practitioners of the Hawaiian culture and I would like to sincerely apologize to those people,"

Meanwhile, in the editorial he continued to take aim at Council members Elle Cochran and Kelly King. On Thursday, on KAOI radio, Arakawa said they were putting people's safety in jeopardy

The council did not approve the county's request for an additional $910,327 in emergency funding for Iao Valley repairs. Cochran and King voted against it.

"Elle's staff and Kelly King's staff, they are not trying to protect the public. They are just trying to make issues," Arakawa said.

"When you get to this kind of stupidity, and it really is stupidity. It's working against the county. It's working against the public. This is putting the community in jeopardy and it should never happen from elected officials."

Cochran released a statement saying the "administration has been consistently dishonest and irresponsible with its expenditures. It is irresponsible for the administration to constantly spin this to be about public safety, when it's really about fiscal responsibility…"

King also released a statement saying, "What really endangers the community is the wanton spending of taxpayer dollars on 'emergency' activities and operations that are unaccounted for and possibly not reimbursable by FEMA."

Last week, Arakawa had a conference call with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs over his "sacred rocks" comments.

OHA said it communicated to the mayor that his comments raised serious concerns with the Native Hawaiian community and that he has committed to ongoing discussions. During his radio appearance, Arakawa said he respects all religions and nationalities.

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