Court Rules Against Kawaiahao Church, State
More than 600 disinterred burials at historic Kawaiahao Church may have to be re-buried after a Friday court ruling that says the church prematurely moved forward on construction of a new multi-purpose center.
In a blow to the church and the state of Hawaii, an Intermediate Court of Appeals panel said that the state violated its own rules in allowing construction of the $17 million project to move forward without requiring the church to do an archaeological inventory survey first.
The court called it a “critical” error. The project has been under development for a decade.
The ruling follows a September injunction that barred the church from removing any more burial remains from the construction site. In 2009, 69 human remains were uncovered, a number of them determined to be Native Hawaiian, according to the court. Earlier this year, it was discovered that about 600 sets of remains had also been unearthed.
The church told Hawaii News Now in August that the remains, many of them in coffins, were being stored on the church property.