Burials found on school campus

Lahaina News
October 19, 2000


LAHAINA — Archaeological finds of significant cultural impact were unearthed this summer at King Kamehemeha III Elementary School, and William Waiohu of the Lanai/Maui Island Burial Council wants to protect them.

During the course of a construction project to upgrade the school's electrical service, two burial sites and one habitation deposit were discovered.

"There are a total of 20 burial or probable burial features at two different sites," reported archeologist Eric Fredericksen of Xamanek Researches.

When human remains over 50 years old are found, contractors are required to notify the State Historic Preservation Division and the Maui/Lanai Island Burial Council. (Police are called if the remains are under 50 years old.)

"The people on the Burial council responded quickly, and it was determined possible by all parties (the Department of Education, Burial Council and Department of Accounting and General Services) to preserve the burials where we found them," explained Fredericksen.

"Later, Leslie Kuloloio (another member of the burial council), myself, Eric Fredericksen, and some contract workers did a blessing, and we covered the iwi," said Waiohu.

It was when the new school term began in August that Waiohu began to have some serious concerns.

Waiohu noted the area, described by Fredericksen as the "makai site," is presently being used as a parking lot.

"I don’t want cares to park in the area where the iwi and the habitation site were found, because I do not want it to be more damaged or disturbed," Waiohu said.

The "makai site" find consisted of at least "eight burial pits, one burial platform and a habitation deposit, in addition to a number of burials that had been previously disturbed when the school was built in the 1950s," outlined Fredericksen.

"It is a very significant area," Fredericksen commented. "A royal mausoleum was located nearby, and it is close to Moku ula."

P. Christiaan Klieger, author of "Moku'ula: Maui's Sacred Island," wrote about this beach frontage section: "The core of the ali'i settlement was near the beach of Pakala, a favorite ancient surfing area known as Uo, Here were the houselots of the kapu women powerful chiefs of the Maui and Hawaii dynasties…"

Waiohu is calling for a meeting between DOW officials and the Burial Council to establish a permanent buffer zone.

"Cars are parking on it right now, every day. It makes me feel bad they don't respect the iwi of the Hawaiian people that are buried here — our ancestors," Waiohu said.

King Kamehameha III Elementary School Principal Rick Paul wasn’t aware of any problem. He was on Mainland at the time of the discovery.

"We do have the area blocked off. I just assumed it was being taken care of," he said.

Cones have been placed immediately on top of the identified sites. But Fredericksen said, "there is a very good chance that there are more burials at the site. We don't know exactly how extensive it is, because we were only able to conduct a monitoring. There was not an inventory survey done.

"That was a concern of mine and, of course, the Burial Council. In terms of a buffer zone, that is something the burial council will need to be involved with because of the burial issue." And Fredericksen added, "A preservation plan will be developed."

Paul is willing to discuss the alternatives. "I am open to a meeting; I certainly want to be respectful."


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