Council OKsSome 200 sets of Hawaiian remains would be reburied in a mound in front of the Honolulu Zoo under a plan unanimously approved by the City Council.
The remains of about 200
will be placed in a 7-foot pyramid-
shaped structure in front
of Honolulu Zoo
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
The Council -- meeting in its capacity as the Kapiolani Park Trust -- agreed to the plan yesterday, following months of discussion about the century-plus-old remains that were unearthed inadvertently during street construction work in Waikiki.
About 50 sets of bones were disturbed during work by the city earlier this year. Those would be buried at the mound with about 150 sets that have been dug up in Waikiki during the years and have been stored elsewhere, said A. Van Horn Diamond, speaking for the Diamond family, one of the families to whom the remains belong.
The remains would be stored in what has been described as a pyramid-shaped structure 7.3 feet high with a diameter of 73.7 feet.
The Council has set aside $250,000 for the project, but it must still go through the planning process.
It has been dubbed by surviving members of the families as Kahi Hali'a Aloha, or "the place of cherished memories."
Diamond said the names of his relatives are now the names of Waikiki thoroughfares. Burying the bones, or iwi, at the memorial ensures that "the ancestors' reinterment is governed by dignity, reverence and aloha," Diamond testified.
Emalia Keohokalole said her family lineage can be traced to the biological mother of King David Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani. "This is a fitting and appropriate resting place for (the ancestors), finally," she said.
But not all felt that way.
Roy Benham, who has been involved in several native Hawaiian issues in recent years, said the mound appears to be well-conceived, done in good taste and enjoys the support of the families concerned.
Nonetheless, "to me this is not a Hawaiian thing," Benham said. Hawaiians traditionally do not bury their family members out in the open for all to see, he said.
"There's probably a better location in Waikiki for this," Benham said.
"Maybe a more unobtrusive part of the park."
Members of the Kapiolani Park Preservation Society also questioned the use of park grounds for burial purposes, while the Hawaiian Heritage Network asked that a decision be deferred.
But Diamond said even if Hawaiians have different views of how to deal with the remains of their ancestors, the important thing is that the families agreed on a solution to a perplexing issue.
Katherine Rodrigues of the religious group Temple of Lono said the burial mound needs to be placed as proposed because it needs to be as close as possible to the Kalakaua Avenue-area streets where they were found.
City & County of Honolulu