Thursday, June 28, 2007
Both the Honolulu Advertiser and the Star Bulletin are reporting on Hawaii's State Historic Preservation Division's recommendation to General Growth Properties, the developers of the $100 million Kakaako retail and housing complex, that the development alter plans so as to preserve about 30 sets of Native Hawaiian remains (Iwi). This is a classic case of the conflict between preservation of a cemetery and sacred site and development. Nina Wu's excellent article in the Star Bulletin points out the competing interests at stake:
Although General Growth has asked the division to consider the economic impact of a redesign, [Division administrator Melanie] Chinen wrote that the state concluded "the facts which require greater consideration for preservation in place far outweigh the reasons presented by the applicant to relocate."
If the structure proposed for the burial ground is relocated or redesigned, Chinen said, the burials could be left in place without exposing them to harm.
"We believe this action would bring a culturally appropriate closure to this issue and provides General Growth Properties the opportunity to publicly demonstrate its good will towards native Hawaiian cultural values," said the letter. "Furthermore, it would relieve General Growth of the need to construct a separate burial preserve for these remains."
There's also a lawsuit pending on this. As Wu reports,
Paulette Ka'anohi Kaleikini, one of the cultural descendants and plaintiff in a suit against General Growth filed by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., said yesterday she was happy with the division's recommendation.
"All these rules were put in place so that these kupuna could be protected," said Kaleikini, "and by following all the laws to protect and preserve the kupuna, I think she [Chinen] followed what was already in place. By preserving it in place, it protects the integrity of my ohana."
Thanks to University of Hawaii property professor Carl Christensen for bringing this to our attention. The public domain picture of the Kakaako section of Oahu is from our friends at wikipedia.
UPDATE: Yet more iwi have been found at the site and there is informed speculation that there are perhaps hundreds more left to be found, according to the Star Bulletin's July 7 story, "Diggers Find Burial Pit."
Alfred L. Brophy
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