Maui resort director admits 'mistake' after removing historic wall without permits

Maui resort director admits 'mistake' after removing historic wall without permits

KAPALUA, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Maui community members shot video and pictures as soon as they saw contractors working on this historic 60 to 70 foot long wall on Lower Honoapiilani Road near Fleming Beach on Wednesday.

"When I saw that wall just haphazardly just thrown to the ground. My heart just hurt and there was no cultural over-site and there was no one there overseeing what was going on and I was in shock that this work was going on without any permitting," said Lahaina resident Kai Nishiki.

"I just felt an empty pit in my stomach hearing the rocks crack and knowing that people made that wall" said Tamara Paltin, who works nearby.

Nishiki confronted contractors imploring them to stop destroying the historic wall.

"They replied that they were going to remove the wall. I said they are going to take the whole wall down today and they said yeah it's coming down.

On Facebook, Paul Brown, the director of the The Kapalua Resort Association which manages Kapalua Resort and its properties, responded to criticism saying he admits he made a mistake and that the work was being done without a permit.

"I take full responsibility for starting the project without permits ... my mistake and we will be working with the county to obtain the proper permitting," he wrote.

He says the association wasn't tearing down the 6 foot high retaining wall, but rather repairing it because 50 pound boulders from the wall where falling onto the road and causing a safety concern especially during heavy rains.

Brown says the plan is to remove the wall, build a new wall of masonry rock, then rebuild using the old rock over the masonry to match the appearance of the old wall.

For now, Brown says the work has been stopped until the association can obtain permits.

Maui church elder, Earl Kakuhiko, 88, says the wall is nearly 80 years old and was built near the old Honokohua Hawaiian Church, which is now Kapalua Preschool. The church was where his father was a kahu.

According to Maui County maps, the area is considered a Special Management Area or SMA. Janet Six, an archeologist and commissioner on the Cultural Resource Commission for Maui County says state rules dictate that structures older than 50 years old are considered historic and in SMA's, permits and a process are required for any type of work. She says there could be penalties or fines.

"It's not that you can't take a wall down or fix it. You need to document it and go through the proper permitting and I believe in this case that wasn't followed," said Six.

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