More bones found at Whole Foods site
The Ward Village burial plan is questioned as more remains are found at the construction site
An additional 10 sets of human remains have been discovered at the Ward site of Whole Foods Market's planned first Hawaii store.
The bones were discovered while digging up the 11 sets of human remains that the state had approved earlier for removal for construction.
The discovery is the latest turn in a dispute between the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., which has opposed the removal of the iwi, and developer General Growth Properties.
General Growth, which says the project is on schedule for completion in 2008, is planning a mixed-use project at the former Ward Village Shops site, including retail space and a 17-story tower containing apartments and a parking garage.
The state reported yesterday that 10 additional sets of human remains have been discovered at the Ward Village Shops site slated for a mixed-use project anchored by Whole Foods Market.
These additional bones -- or iwi -- were discovered by archaeologists while exhuming 11 sets of previously discovered human remains as approved by a burial treatment plan several weeks ago.
Assistant Oahu archeologist Adam Johnson reported the "inadvertent discovery" to the Oahu Island Burial Council, which met yesterday at Kualoa Regional Park.
The iwi were discovered on both the Diamond Head and Ewa sides of the 6-acre site, where General Growth Properties plans a complex with a mix of retail space and a 17-story apartment building and parking garage.
Earlier this month, Whole Foods said the opening of their Ward store would be pushed back into 2009.
But General Growth Properties Senior Vice President Dwight Yoshimura said yesterday the overall project is still on track to be completed in 2008.
In late March, General Growth was given the green light to move the remains after the state approved a burial treatment plan. The bones are to be kept for one to two years in an air-conditioned trailer during construction, then reburied at the site.
"There's no delay," said Yoshimura. "We've been working with the cultural descendants as well as the state Historic Preservation Division in addressing these inadvertent finds."
But at least one cultural descendant, Paulette Ka'anohiokalani Kaleikini, is livid.
"My concern, like I have told the Oahu Island Burial Council before, is for the iwi kupuna which will not be found during the disinterment," said Kaleikini. "Those that will not be found will be crushed by the 1,100 piles of concrete that is scheduled to be driven into the project area."
Kaleikini said she learned on her own of the additional iwi and has not yet been informed of them by the state.
When the 11 sets of iwi were previously identified at Ward, she felt the site should have been designated as a cemetery and protected under state law.
"All effort should have been exhausted to press the developer for more redesigning of this project," she said. "The developers should have been sent back to their drawing boards. ... All they did was offer some lame excuse that they could not redesign their project because it was too late."
Melanie Chinen, administrator for the state Historic Preservation Division, was not available for comment yesterday.
In late February the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. filed suit against General Growth, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources and the burial council, seeking to stop the removal of the bones.
Staff attorney Moses Haia said yesterday he will amend the suit to include the additional 10 sets of iwi or file another one.
Developers should be more thorough in conducting archaeological surveys before moving forward with construction, he said.
"Let's provide at least some dignity and respect before you open your doors and make a cent out of the development," he said.
Kaleikini said she is angry and bitter at the state system, which she feels failed to protect her kupuna.
Yoshimura declined to comment on legal proceedings. "We have done everything we could, and I think the record will speak for itself," he said. "We have followed all the appropriate proceedings and legal requirements in pursuing our project."