These ala stones were laid in the ground as part of the ancient alaloa within the Hokulia development on the Big Island. They were removed without the required permission of the state, in order to accommodate construction of the 16th fairway of the golf course at Hokulia.

Judge orders
Kona trail restored
for public use

An Oct. 29 hearing will seek
remedies for disturbed burials

By Rod Thompson

KEALAKEKUA, Hawaii >> An ancient Hawaiian trail that runs through Kona land being developed as a golf course at Hokulia is a "public highway" and must be restored "immediately" for public use, Circuit Judge Ronald Ibarra ruled yesterday.

Located on coastal land downhill from Kealakekua, the trail crosses the 1,550-acre Hokulia development where developer Oceanside 1250 Partners plans up to 730 1-acre home sites costing up to $2.8 million each.

Attorney Robert Kim, representing ocean kayaker Walter "Jack" Kelly and others who sought to restore the trail, called the ruling "landmark."

The state had allowed Hokulia to dismantle about 380 feet of the trail, partly because the trail was not on state maps, Kim said. In the past, if a trail was not on a map, the state said it did not exist, Kim said.

Ibarra agreed with a claim by the plaintiffs that the trail has been there since ancient times, Kim said.

Attorney Alan Murakami of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., representing the Protect Keopuka Ohana, called Ibarra's ruling "kind of phenomenal."

Ibarra's ruling means the trail is part of ceded lands formerly belonging to the Hawaiian kingdom which the state Constitution requires the state to protect, Murakami said.

While Kim and Murakami were pleased, Hokulia President John De Fries, whose company lost in the ruling, also declared he was happy.

"I'm thrilled that the ownership of this cultural site has been determined," De Fries said. Now related issues can be resolved, he added.

In a pretrial hearing last year, Ibarra ruled that the trail had to be restored. Yesterday's ruling affirmed that.

A portion of the trail is still not restored, said Murakami, who is seeking a finding of contempt against Oceanside for the alleged violation.

De Fries says he was confused because the company has already restored the trail.

Besides the contempt issue, Ibarra has yet to rule on the alleged mistreatment of dozens of Hawaiian burials located in 69 sites, Murakami said.

A hearing is set for Oct. 29 on what remedies are appropriate for the burials that have been disturbed by construction.

Another issue, to be argued in court Monday, is whether Oceanside's rights to continue the development have become "vested," that is, they cannot be taken away.

Ibarra ruled in April that the entire development is an urban project on land designated for agriculture, a violation of state law. But he declined to order work on the project stopped.

De Fries says the company previously planned to require a single community-owned entity to do agricultural work on each private lot. The new plan, which hopefully meets the court's requirements, is for each lot owner to do individual agricultural work, De Fries said.

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