It’s a cool, windy, dark morning, following a night of rain. It’s more the sort of day one would expect in November, than July, but I’m not complaining. After our super dry winter and spring, it’s been a blessing to have a nice wet summer.
A friend from the North Shore called to say that all the waterfalls up there are pounding, due to heavy rains, and another called to say he’d been by the burials at Naue, where construction has already begun on Joe Brescia’s latest oceanfront home.
He said it was very disturbing to see that some concrete footings had already been poured and heavy equipment was working on the lot, which has been enclosed by a large screen and is monitored by security guards. He and a number of his friends, all Native Hawaiians, have been involved in the issue for some time, and he said it was yet another example of Hawaiians trying to figure out the pono way to respond to actions that are decidedly not pono.
It seems that the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. has determined the best approach is to seek a temporary restraining order to halt construction, according to Kai Markel, director of native rights, land and culture at Office of Hawaiian Affairs, who was on Ka`iulani Huff’s radio show yesterday.
Markel said the motion could be filed as soon as today, likely against the state Dept. of Land and Natural Resources, whose Historic Preservation Office signed off on the project, as well as others.
He said the excavation and concrete work had been done “without any oversight by people who are not vested in the system. This is really unacceptable.”
Markel also noted that Ka`iulani had gotten a tattoo when construction began — an action that traditionally was taken to express deep grief. Ka`iulani said the tattoo had been done on her spine, and “it was painful, but not as painful as watching this happen.”
After maintaining a four-month vigil at the site, she said she’d also needed to “take some time out to grieve” when it turned out the cops couldn’t stop Brescia from building, and so the project moved ahead.
I know that some people have expressed derision toward Ka`iulani and claimed that concern about burials was merely a ploy to stop development. But when you talk to the folks who are deeply concerned about the disruption of burials at Naue and elsewhere, you come to realize that those kinds of comments merely reflect the ignorance and cultural insensitivity of the folks who make them.
As Kauai Police Chief Darrly Perry noted in his statement on the matter:
Without a doubt our kupunas and those who have come before us are an important part of who we are as individuals and who we are as a culture because they are the foundation of our existence.
This respect does not only hold true in Hawaii but also in every culture throughout the world—they are our guiding light. And I have yet to speak to one kupuna who believes that it is “pono” to build this house over the graves of our Hawaiian ancestors, even if it is “authorized.”
I hope that somewhere down the line, a leader of great vision will take up this cause and correct the unconscionable decisions by some of our appointed public officials who authorized/permitted the building of this home, and future homes under similar circumstances.
In the absence of such a leader, I'm glad NHLC is stepping into the fight.
On a lighter note, I got a little giggle from Nathan Eagle’s opening sentence in today’s Garden Island story on Wednesday’s Council meeting:
Daryl Kaneshiro, clad in lei and with his nameplate back on the table, took the oath of office yesterday morning at the Historic County Building to start his 18-week stint on the Kaua‘i County Council.
Wow, all he was wearing was lei?
I also found it interesting that as the Council was reorganizing — making Jay Furfaro its chair now that Kaipo Asing has moved on to mayor — Mel Rapozo asked to get back on the Parks and Recreation Committee, apparently because he doesn’t like the bills that Committee Chairman Tim Bynum drafted regarding dogs on the path.
Yes, that burning issue is still stuck in committee, with the Council dithering endlessly over amendments, including one that Kaipo wanted introduced.
Ah, priorities. As the world ponders war, global warming and famine, and the American economy enters meltdown, Kauai fusses over where dogs should be walked, and on what length leash.