Hawaiian remains returned to the aina
The remains had been in state storage for more than 10 years
In a pre-dawn ceremony, about 38 remains of native Hawaiian ancestors that had been held in state storage for years were reburied amid torch lights and ceremonial prayers at Kualoa Recreational Park last week.
The remains, found over the last decade, were reburied Friday in a burial mound that already held the remains of 67 native Hawaiians that were reinterred in 1995.
Kalei Kini of the Oahu Island Burial Council said he was surprised how smoothly the reinterment went and that the "focus was on the kupuna and nothing else. There was unity among us, a single-minded purpose that is rarely felt."
Peter Young, director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, praised the cooperative effort that made the reinterment possible.
"In this case, the families, which included lineal descendants, the City and County of Honolulu's Department of Parks and Recreation, the State Historic Preservation Division, the Oahu Island Burial Council and Pacific Legacy Inc., a private archaeological consulting firm, shared responsibility for planning the reinterment of these remains," Young said in a press release yesterday.
When State Historic Preservation Division administrator Melanie Chinen learned that these individuals had been awaiting reinterment for over a decade, she made it a division priority to plan for their reburial.
"We believe the iwi kupuna must not be forgotten, and our cultural program staff were instrumental in bringing the community together," Chinen said.
The city Parks and Recreation department has volunteered to assist the state and families by maintaining the burial site, according to Wilford Ho, park manager for the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Archaeologist Paul Cleghorn of Pacific Legacy Inc., who has cared for the remains for over a decade, also participated in the reburial.