CALL TO ACTION: Kānaka Maoli Scholars Against Desecration

Kānaka Maoli Scholars Against Desecration
July 13, 2009

This is the THIRD collective statement since September of 2008 that Kānaka Maoli scholars have made to publicly condemn the state-sponsored desecration of a Native Hawaiian burial site at Wainiha, Kaua`i resulting from the construction of a home at Naue Point by California real estate developer Joseph Brescia. The site has 30 known burial remains with a high likelihood that more remains are present. Tragically, both the desecration of Hawaiian graves and the state’s illegal actions in response continue. This is important both because of the specific instance of desecration and the larger issues surrounding the State’s unwillingness to abide by its own laws.

Brescia’s home is currently in the midst of construction even though state law requires approval from the Kaua`i-Ni`ihau Island Burial Council in order to issue building permits for sites where Hawaiian remains have been found on Kauai. Both Brescia and the State Historic Preservation Division, which has played a key role in this debacle, have blatantly ignored the conditions set by the Kaua`i Planning Commission in December of 2007 regarding his house plans that “No building permit shall be issued until requirements of the State Historic Preservation Division and the Burial Council have been met.”

The State has done nothing to prevent these illegal activities through the courts or through the State Historic Preservation Division. To date, 5th Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe has denied requests for a temporary restraining order and has even refused to grant a temporary injunction to stop further construction. Jeff Chandler and Puanani Rogers—both named as defendants in the civil suit — Joseph Brescia v. Ka`iulani Huff, et al. — go to court on July 21, 2009 to again ask Judge Watanabe to halt construction.

The State has undermined the functionality of the Burial councils; because Hawai`i State Governor Linda Lingle has not appointed two new members to fill vacancies that arose on June 30, 2009, the Kaua`i-Ni`ihau Island Burial Council is unable to reach quorum for decisions that require this. There has been at least one application for the council that has been in limbo since November of 2008. Officials at the State Historic Preservation Division did nothing to prevent this situation. This has been a chronic problem under the Lingle administration; this is not the first time the Governor has let slide numerous pending appointments and even held back some re-appointments. The result is that state law is not being followed.

No construction whatsoever should be allowed to take place without the approval of the Island Burial Council and there has been no such approval.

Hawai`i revised statute 711-1107 on Desecration, specifically states that no one may commit the offense of desecrating "a place of worship or burial," and the statute defines “desecrate” as “defacing, damaging, polluting, or otherwise physically mistreating in a way that the defendant knows will outrage the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or discover the defendant’s action.”

We are outraged by the ongoing reality of a California real estate developer knowingly building his house on top of our ancestors’ remains.

We call on state Governor Lingle, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the State Historic Preservation Division, the Kaua`i Planning Commission, and the Kaua`i-Ni`ihau Island Burial Council to abide by the laws designed to protect Hawaiian graves.

Concerned individuals should write to them all:

Linda Lingle, Governor, State of Hawai`i
Executive Chambers
State Capitol
Honolulu, Hawai`i 96813
Email: [email protected]

Laura H. Thielen, Chairperson
Department of Land and Natural Resources
Kalanimoku Building
1151 Punchbowl St.
Honolulu, HI 96813
Email: [email protected]

Pua Aiu, Administrator
State Historic Preservation Division
601 Kamokila Boulevard Kapolei, Hawai`i, 96707
Email: [email protected]
(There is no public address or email...

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