The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) is pressing for an accounting of the iwi kupuna unearthed at Kawaiahao Church to determine if they include traditional and historical burials not covered by a state disinterment permit. Some 605 sets of iwi kupuna and thousands of other remains have been removed since 2009 to allow construction of a new multipurpose center. Cultural descendants are concerned that some may predate the church and its cemetery, wrote OHA Chief Executive Officer Kamanaopono Crabbe in a Sept. 17 letter to the DLNR. The earlier burials would not be covered under the disinterment permit, but instead the Oahu Island Burial Council (OIBC).

Dana Naone Hall, a cultural descendant, told OHA trustees that archaeological reports showed “disturbed human skeletal remains not associated with the coffin burials…[and] artifacts and…pig, dog and fish bones — a potential indication of traditional burials.”

In a letter to DLNR Director William Aila, Crabbe wrote, “Since the historical record indicates that the area contained burial sites prior to the establishment of Kawaiahao Church, questions of this nature are warranted.” OHA is asking the state to seek a “thorough reporting” of the findings made to date by the church’s archaeological consultant.

Crabbe also asked that DLNR staff, Kawaiahao Church and CHS attend the next OIBC meeting, scheduled for Oct. 10, to “provide a detailed briefing.”