HONOLULU – A state agency has recommended that 30 sets of Native Hawaiian remains unearthed at the site of a proposed $150 million apartment complex should not be disturbed.
The remains can be left in place without exposing them to harm if the proposed condominium structure is "relocated or redesigned to avoid this area," Melanie Chinen, administrator of the State Historic Preservation Division, wrote in a letter dated Monday to developer General Growth Properties Inc.
"We believe this action would bring a culturally appropriate closure to this issue and provides GGP the opportunity to publicly demonstrate its good will toward Native Hawaiian cultural values," Chinen wrote.
Among the reasons Chinen stated for the decision were the high concentration of skeletal remains and the fact they were located within a Native Hawaiian burial ground, thereby meeting the definition of a historic property. The state also consulted with the recognized cultural descendants of those buried at the site, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the company.
Chinen wrote that the state believes that it is "culturally inappropriate" to relocate burials within known burial grounds or cemeteries.
Dwight Yoshimura, General Growth's senior vice president, on Thursday said the company was reviewing the state's recommendation and had no immediate comment. However, he added that a redesign was "probably not" a viable option for the company.
Chicago-based General Growth, which owns nearby retailing juggernaut Ala Moana Center, was seeking to have the bones relocated to three areas at the site.
Chinen recommended placing 11 sets of remains found previously at the site that have been in storage awaiting reburial with the 30 sets of remains found later.