"Unearthing Burial Laws" in Honolulu Weekly

Posted by kahea at Aug 18, 2008 03:54 PM |

From Joan Conrow’s excellent piece on iwi issues in the Weekly, “Unearthing Burials“:

But the construction hasn’t stopped, those involved in burial issues say, because the law has been very misapplied and misinterpreted, and top administrators have failed to allocate sufficient funding for the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) to do its job.

“If you don’t want it to work, you should be honest about it, not cripple it with inadequate funding and staffing and what looks like an attempt to make it collapse from within,” Murakami said.

Efforts also have been made to get the state Legislature to provide oversight of SHPD, which Murakami said is plagued with “systemic and chronic” problems, but that hasn’t been a priority with lawmakers.

“Essentially, the only thing keeping developers from doing what they want are major conflicts and lawsuits,” Murakami said. And that’s exactly what’s happening at Naue, on Kaua’i’s north shore, where several demonstrations have been held. The NHLC is seeking an injunction to stop Joe Brescia, a California developer, from building a house on an oceanfront site where 31 burials have been found. A hearing is set for Thursday, August 14 in Kaua’i’s Fifth Circuit Court.

The key issue of the suit, Murakami said, is that the Kaua’i Island Burial Council determined the burials should be preserved in place, but the SHPD is taking the position that capping them in concrete and building a house on top constitutes preservation.

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