Last week, the Moratorium on Sand Mining of Central Maui Inland Sand expired. The moratorium was signed into law as an ordinance in January of this year to give the county time to assess the sand, which holds immeasurable value as a known burial ground and resting place of Native Hawaiian iwi kupuna (ancestral bones), as well as a non-renewable natural resource. The ordinance set a time frame of six months to conduct a study on the amount of Central Maui inland sand which stretches from Wailuku and Kahului all the way to Ma‘alaea. The moratorium stated, “it is necessary to limit and regulate the mining of inland sand until such time as: 1) an ordinance regulating the mining, extracting, or removing of inland sand is adopted, and 2) the Maui Inland Sand Resource Quantification Study (2006) is updated.”
Yet, the resource quantification study update remains unfinished and there is no ordinance to regulate sand mining. So when Jul. 19 marked the end of this six-month period and the moratorium, many environmentalists and advocates of historical, cultural preservation were concerned that sand mining would resume without proper assessment or debate over the use, development, or mining of the sand and its natural and historical resources.
Attempts to put an extension on the sand mining moratorium through a County Council ordinance were initially thwarted when Council Chair Mike White declined to put the item on the agenda for the Jul. 20 council meeting. Advocates for the moratorium were outraged. The move meant they were excluded from testifying against the resumption of sand mining at the council meeting because of the issue’s absence from the day’s agenda. As moratorium proponents planned a demonstration outside the county building for Jul. 20, however, a new avenue for action appeared.
White’s agenda contained a communication from the Department of Finance regarding 81 contracts/grants. One of these was an extension of the unfinished sand resource quantification study. Activists, who had lined High Street an hour before the council meeting to wave protest signs, moved to the hall of the eighth floor of the council building, lining the council chamber to speak on this item. This led to powerful testimony.
“People are buried in these places,” one testifier seethed. “The fact that I have to find somebody that’s not even from here to tell you people that my family is in the sand… That’s the problem. That’s the biggest problem. That’s the disconnect right there and the problem’s never gonna get solved until that disconnect is gone… It seems that you guys are lacking in your fiduciary duties to protect us as kanaka. You guys expect us to give you guys our votes every year to support you guys in everything you guys do, but where are you guys when we need these things passed to support our kanaka of the past, our kanaka of the present, and the kanaka of the future?”
Discussion on the moratorium extension continued during a Jul. 23 meeting of the Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee. “At this point an ordinance regulating mining, extracting, or removing of inland sand has not yet been adopted,” councilwoman and IEM committee chair Elle Cochran said at the meeting. “So given that these steps have not taken place, our iwi kupuna are still at risk of sand mining in Central Maui. In order to ensure ancestral remains are not disturbed from their resting place, we must extend this moratorium and allow extra time for long term solutions.”
By the end of the meeting, the bill for an ordinance to extend the sand mining moratorium until December 31, 2018 passed the committee. It will appear on the council agenda for all councilmembers to vote on.
This is a significant but brief victory for iwi protectors and environmentalists. It is but a piece of the larger, ongoing debate about sacred spaces in Hawai‘i and the sovereignty of Native Hawaiians and indigenous culture to have a voice in land use – a debate that has reached boiling points at Mauna Kea and Haleakala. It is simply the beginning of a discussion regarding the importance of our sand resources and their management.
To be clear, the moratorium doesn’t resolve the grievances of the citizens that came to testify and demonstrate for on Friday. The quantification study is just that: a quantification study. It is intended to get a measurement of sand quantity, not an archaeological inventory. As developers scan Central Maui for potential projects, it will be essential to proactively push for an assessment of the historical and cultural value of this land to ensure respect for the Native Hawaiians whose kupuna rest there.
As the pressures of outside change continue to squeeze this place, we must ask: How do we balance the needs to honor indigenous culture, protect the environment, and ensure prosperity for residents?
Photo courtesy Iwi Protectors
Discussion 7/27/2018: Do you think the Central Maui Sand Dune, which stretches from Kahului and Wailuku all the way to Ma‘alaea, should be developed or preserved?
Aug 06 2018 8:06 PM preserve, respect iwi kupuna
Aug 06 2018 3:28 PM There is too much developing going on. I have been on Maui for only 7 years and it has changed so much. Roads cannot accommodate more peoplr.
Aug 06 2018 5:43 AM “Maui is already over developed and can not keep up with its own infrastructure needs. Perseveration and slow growth or even zero growth and redevelopment is the correct strategy to keep Maui’s unique Aloha…
Aug 05 2018 1:08 PM With shoreline erosion we cannot afford take away the sand that is left.
Aug 04 2018 7:34 PM No. Stop digging up my relatives
Aug 04 2018 5:32 PM Nuff development already. We have so many empty houses and retail/wholesale spaces and they just keep building more. Growth for the sake of growth is the philosophy of the cancer cell.
Aug 04 2018 4:51 PM Preserved
Aug 04 2018 1:19 PM Development on burial grounds is a horrific violation of human rights. There is more than enough development now in Maui Lani that the tradeoff between preservation and development should be obvious. We need to preserve.
Aug 04 2018 10:59 AM First off, exporting sand is CRAZY since we have to now IMPORT sand for concrete. Second, the urban sprawl of Maui Lani is horrible. Horrible for the people packed into it and horrible for commuting.
Aug 04 2018 6:55 AM Preserved.
Aug 04 2018 6:48 AM No mining. Companies would take it all in no time and not care for any graves they have proven that greed rules them. Let the Hawaiians decide.
Aug 03 2018 11:14 PM We must preserve our ecological treasures or the whole island will become concrete. Each niche we develop is a loss to the islands biome.
Aug 03 2018 1:04 PM Complete survey and due diligence before developing
Aug 03 2018 12:54 PM Imagine if people just started digging up graves, say at Makawao Veterans Cemetary or even at Arlington, wouldn’t people be up in arms? Colonialist norms create a different playing field in terms of reverence for Indigenous burials as well as “non-traditional” cultural practices. The EIS/CIS administrative infrastructure and process is a compromise for making sure that developers heed to responsible and respectful repatriation of burials PRIOR to moving forward with a build. Plus, that sand belongs to everyone, so how does a private entity have the ability to commodify something that they don’t technically own. Last time I checked, that was called stealing.
Aug 03 2018 7:57 AM Preserved because it is part of the ecosystem.
Aug 03 2018 7:12 AM Development won’t stop. If not now, this will occur again in the future. Move the iwi kapuna to dedicated, scared areas on Maui for proper burial and placement. Otherwise all remaining bones will wind up next to a Longs Drug Store or new homes. Sad.
Aug 03 2018 6:35 AM Stop it! Leave Sacred ancient graves & iwi kūpuna lay where they stay!
Aug 03 2018 5:53 AM It’s watershed into Kealia. Plus burials. Leave it.
Aug 02 2018 5:20 PM Let the owners decide
Aug 02 2018 4:26 PM Preserved as you would a cemetery as it is the final resting place of so many of our ilwu kupuna
Aug 02 2018 4:20 PM We already have a too much coastal development. Let’s leave some in it’s natural state.
Aug 02 2018 4:06 PM Simple: we do not want to look like O’ahu.
Aug 02 2018 3:56 PM What will the developers think of next! Building a nautical themed village (with the dvd of “Rule Brittania” blaring in the background) up on the bluffs of Capt. Cook’s final landing spot on the Big Island? Maui is already Haole Heaven — leave it the f— alone!
Aug 02 2018 3:22 PM We already have too much development on Maui.
Aug 02 2018 2:43 PM It is a unique part of maui and has hundreds of burials. show some respect!
Aug 02 2018 2:12 PM For god sake and our sake leave it natural. We do not want another a wahoo. Plus we do not have the infrastructure for more roadway on the highway to Lahaina and back to kihei and town. Developers are dying to develop Maui which would not be Maui anymore
Aug 02 2018 2:05 PM need affordable housing and more Tax revenue
Aug 02 2018 10:15 AM Maui is just fine the way it is beautiful open space to look at nature not building offices use the office place that’s already vacated
Aug 02 2018 9:12 AM Developed. Land is contiguous to existing infrastructure and adjacent to housing where locals can afford to live.
Aug 01 2018 9:41 PM “The remains of this dune system should be preserved. For many years the bulldozers have crushed dragged and destroyed numerous KNOWN ancient burial areas. The destruction continues today..Many SIHP areas have been already designated here yet most are not acknowledged on development plans to allow for desecration of known burials. Last week I witnessed heavy equiptment operating swiftly in a designated known burial area.. LEGALLY on private land they say.. How can it be that these ancient burial areas protected by the law of the land they lived on be simply discarded..?? Why does 6E burial protection laws prepared for protection from actions occuring today not protect these as those in other areas of Hawaii.*HONOKAHUA. These dune lands long ago were designated to the Dept of Education.. as recently as 1960’s the land of Owa and Kalua were under the stewardship of those mentioned above.. These ancient burial areas are currently being mined and stripped to make cement..ancients are crushed sifted and sold knowingly..how is this not against the law? How can it be that for generations the County has plowed here for waterlines to Kihei and knowingly left remains only to be found as previously disturbed allowing/grandfathering an excuse for new development..elected officials recently chanting on the Council floor the need affordable housing , JOBS,senior living, schools ,connector roads etc..even a councilmember reminding us of the need for sand in sandboxes..sand from irreplaceable ancient resting places of old containing fragments of our ancient ancestors desperately needed for our keiki to play in at preschool..OUR COUNCIL, Maui’s Corp Council willing to participate defending this desecration as in the best interest of Maui..Chamber of Commerce associates claiming sand needed for beach replentishment knowing that inland sand does not benefit the reefs and this sand eventually ends up smothering reef life.. The remaining remnant dunes need protection, the IWI KUPUNA BELONG TO ALL HAWAII these are our Ancestors..what of speaking the language when the ancients who spoke it our kupuna o Iwi are being crushed ,disrespected and discarded..approved by cultural consultants for money..to meet requirements allowing development.. What good is teaching our children if building upon lands that desecrate the ancients are necessary.. What good is it to speak the language and learn the customs of old requires a blind eye to bulldozers crushing our ancient ancestors. Why should we accept needing connector roads as reason to discard ancient remains.. Recently the Vice President of the United States arrived to welcome the remains of the fallen..I am grateful..
When will the remains here at Maui Lani PROJECT DISTRICT.. men women children infants being sold as sand here be recognized as human beings..and not considered waste..disposable remnents . I watch all the political commercials , everyone claims unending committments to the environment ,to the host culture,to our keiki, in honor of their parents who instilled in them the values…Yet we are unable to STOP the desecration by our County..by cold heartless developers… The destruction here is not inadvertant,not accidental, it is intentional.. in history those responsible will look back and see the destruction an desecration they allowed and live knowing they were capable of the approval of such a tragic destruction of Maui’s precious irreplaceable treasure.. I hope they realize someday a child will ask why…and they will be the answer..”
Aug 01 2018 3:34 PM “Preservation with Integrity.
Many Hawaiian Residents, as well as Tourists, want to learn, understand and be respectful of the Lives and Cultures and History of the individuals residing in their respective Resting places. These individuals were not expecting Any person(s) or business(es) to even consider having their Resting Place disturbed in any way, and/or for any “”reason.”” Simply said, “”what would we think about having our own Resting Place being disrupted just to have New Developments created for a select few to expand their own Profit margins””…
Do all or any Burial lot buyers have options regarding being relocated for Research &/or Development endeavors at any time in the future?….
Please, look elsewhere for those new Development sites and know this is the best choice for Now, and Forever.
Aug 01 2018 1:34 PM “Leave the aina alone.
Respect the Indigenous sites, animals, flora and fauna, and the environment.
If we do not speak on behalf of the land, who will?
DO NOT “”develop”” a natural area.”
Aug 01 2018 6:13 AM “Don’t make Maui another Oahu!“
Jul 31 2018 11:56 PM We must protect the iwi!
Jul 31 2018 8:49 PM There has never been a full accounting of how many ancestral bones have been uncovered in Maui Lani central Sandune’s. There needs to be transparency and accountability. Until that happens no more development.
Jul 31 2018 7:53 PM Preserved. Please respect the iwi kupuna.
Jul 31 2018 7:13 PM Developed. It will create more jobs as population grows. And less crimes in certain parts of that area. After all bullet holes were found in all of our truck windows in an area around the sand dunes.
Jul 31 2018 5:13 PM Haven’t the Hawaiian people suffered enough loss from outsiders. Enough of the taking away of sacred land. All of their land is sacred and should be saved as it is now before it’s too late. I have seen what man has done on the main land. It doesn’t have to be that way here. My dad was born on Oahu. He is not of Hawaii decent, but is true Hawaiian in his heart. Too much damage has been done already. You have time to stop this. I hope you do, mohalo. Rick S.
Jul 31 2018 4:31 PM These historical sand dunes should be assessed first for burials and historic properties before they are developed.
Jul 31 2018 2:02 PM Maui is in desperate need of homes for Native Hawaiian people, AND for non-Native Hawaiian residents who have lived in Maui for a long time and need affordable housing. Unfortunately a great majority of housing being built is unattainable because of the high prices. But I do want to add that if the rest of the Central Maui Sand Dune is developed, it is of great importance to continue to do archaeology in the area to record findings. And my hope would be that the one day the findings, along with oral history could be shared in a center built for residents and visitors to learn about the history of the Central Maui Sand Dunes.
Jul 31 2018 12:58 PM “preserved, development is rampant and there is nothing sacred about yet another tourism or high rise goal. this should be honored as burial site, as paradise lost cannot be gained again“
Jul 31 2018 12:52 PM Preserve as much precious undeveloped land as possible.
Jul 31 2018 11:49 AM Would you develop Arlington Cemetery? It is as simple as that.
Jul 31 2018 11:42 AM NO Iwi kupuna / burial grounds or ancients should be destroyed or tampered with. OR covered in cement! The county and State are Greedy and selfish to exempt these companies to continue! We want full transparency and accountability. It is NEVER ok to disturb a burial ground. Shall we dig up your family cemetary?
Jul 31 2018 10:45 AM E malama i na Iwi Kupuna! After decades of sand mining, this wahi pana and its sacred topography has been altered forever. In addition, sand is a finite natural resource AND the geological processes resulting in this extraordinarily and unique series of sand dunes is found NO WHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD AND ON NO ISTHMUSES OF ISLANDS! Disgusting to think that this sand, taken from a KNOWN BURIAL & BATTLE GROUND, has been used both on-island and off-island for concrete and other construction purposes. And how ironic that the so-called “Champions” (i.e., Leslie Kuloloio, Dana Hall, Collette Machado) who are Kanaka Maoli seem to condone this vicious obliteration of the Pu’uone and desecration of their own ancestors in the sand….
Jul 31 2018 4:24 AM I think it is important that development be closely monitored and hard choices must be made to as what is more important, money or the natural land.
Jul 29 2018 12:57 PM Maui needs homes for our residents.
Jul 29 2018 11:49 AM Preserved. Protect this island!
Jul 28 2018 2:14 PM STOP DEVELOPING! STOP COVERING THE DISCOVERY OF HAWAIIAN ARTIFACTS SO THEY CAN DEVELOP. LEAVE THE ISLAND IF ALL YOU SEE IS MONEY
Jul 28 2018 9:07 AM Ancestors graves should be respected
Jul 28 2018 8:38 AM Should be preserved and studied! Too much selling out.. start taking care of the Aina!
Jul 27 2018 5:51 PM It is disrespectful to the Hawaiian Culture and the Hawaiian People to disgrace their ancestors. We need to remember that we should tread lightly on this culture and the reason this land has value is not only it’s beauty, but it’s rich culture. Nuff said.
Jul 27 2018 3:19 PM Too much development already!! Streets and beaches are crowded enough. More people will only mean a faster degradation of the environment.
Jul 27 2018 1:56 PM “Preserved! !!!!
ONLY SO MUCH IN THE WORLD “
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