Native Hawaiians want a halt in construction after remains found at a Waikiki hotel

Updated: May. 17, 2017 at 10:36 PM HST
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WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The discovery of human remains at a construction site of a Waikiki hotel is prompting some Native Hawaiian activists to call for a halt to the development.

A complaint filed in Circuit Court said about April 22 excavating work claims work on an elevator shaft at the site of the Pacific Beach Hotel unearthed two sets of human skeletal remains.

The Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation wants construction stopped until an Archaeological Inventory Survey is completed.

The former chair of the Oahu Island Burial Council agrees.

"In 2017, there is no excuse as to why someone would not do their due diligence," Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu said.

The complaint was filed on behalf of Paulette Kaleikini. She claims the Department of Land and Natural Resources and other entities did not have an archaeological monitor present when the bones, known as iwi, were discovered.

The news came as a surprise to Waikiki Neighborhood Board Chairman Robert Finley.  The hotel's $115 million overhaul was a topic at board meetings.

"It had an environmental assessment so we assumed that everything was good on it," he said.  "I can only assume that when they excavated the existing property they had no way of knowing that there was anything under it."

The Pacific Beach Hotel is renovating its 800-plus rooms, lobby, pool deck and restaurant areas. It will eventually be renamed the Alohilani Resort at Waikiki Beach.

"I'm certain that they're probably projecting reservations already. So if you stopped work, that would probably impact on their future sales," Finley said.

The court complaint alleges that unless the site is thoroughly checked, construction will threaten more Native Hawaiian remains.

"I feel that is highly likely. These areas were known to have high concentrations of burials sporadically throughout," Wong-Kalu said.

DLNR would not comment on the court filing that quotes a 2014 plan prepared for the Pacific Beach Hotel. It said, "the potential of unearthing human remains within the project area is very high."

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