Construction for $18 million multipurpose center comes to a halt

By Cam Tran
Published On: Sep 29 2012 07:40:42 AM HST

Construction is halted at Kawaiahao Church after several sets of iwi are found.

HONOLULU -

When the Kawaiaha'o Church started work on its multipurpose center in 2009, crews discovered several sets of iwi, and more turned up as construction continued.

"At this point we know that 600 burials have been disinterred," said David "Kauila" Kopper from the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation.
  
That is why Dana Naone Hall, who has ancestors buried at the Kawaiaha'o cemetery  filed a lawsuit, saying the church needed to complete an archeological survey before continuing construction.

"What bothers me is what would bother a lot of people if their family burials were being disinterred without their consent," said Hall.

Hall, represented by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, lost the initial lawsuit but appealed. On Friday, the Intermediate Court of Appeals issued an order barring the disinterment of anymore remains.

"The wheels of justice turn slowly, but they are finally turning in the right direction," said Hall.  "I am very grateful to the ICA for its injunction. I think it has been long overdue."

The court used a recent Hawaii Supreme Court decision as the basis for issuing its injunction. Last month, the  Hawaii Supreme Court ruled the City of Honolulu had to do a full archeological survey before continuing its rail project.

"Both involve the State Historic Preservation Division to follow the historic preservation due process." said David Frankel, who represents Hall. 
       
A spokesperson from the church issued a statement saying, "Kawaiaha'o Church will continue to follow the direction of the courts and the agencies exercising oversight on the project. We are reviewing the ruling and considering our options."

The injunction is in effect until the appeals court makes its decision. Hall says that decision should come soon.

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