- Associated Press - Sunday, April 7, 2019

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - A judge has temporarily stopped work on a Maui housing development following a complaint that the project disturbed Native Hawaiian burial sites.

Judge Joseph Cardoza granted the preliminary injunction Friday, with both sides agreeing to meet to propose additional protections for the burial sites near the Maui Lani development in Kahului, The Maui News reported .

Jennifer Noelani Ahia had filed the complaint in February against the state, Maui County and the landowner, claiming about 180 burials were disturbed. She claimed officials and the landowner knew about the burial sites but failed to protect them.

“My name is on the lawsuit as the plaintiff, but this is a group effort representing the lahui (people) who have been advocating to protect burials for years and years,” Ahia said. “This is the culmination of many years of hard work by many kupuna (elders) from this area.”

Landowner HBT is building the single-family residential development on about 45 acres (18 hectares). The project is being developed in four parts, with the first three nearly completed.

“On behalf of HBT of Maui Lani, we are pleased with Judge Cardoza’s ruling, and we look forward to working with the plaintiff to address the issues requested by the court,” said Michael Carroll, the landowner’s attorney.

State attorney Daniel Morris declined to comment following the ruling Friday.

The injunction will stay in place until protection terms are discussed, said David Kauila Kopper, the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. attorney representing Ahia.

“The judge recognized the irreparable harm when burials are disturbed or desecrated - you can’t fix that once it happens,” Kopper said. “He also recognized that burials deserve the highest protection under the law.”


Information from: The Maui News, http://www.mauinews.com

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