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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, February 13, 2010

Burial council rejects plan


By Paul Curtis
The Garden Island

LĪHU'E, Kaua'i After hearing nearly four hours of emotional testimony, the Kaua'i/Ni'ihau Island Burial Council on Thursday unanimously rejected the 16th draft of the burial treatment plan for Naue landowner Joseph Brescia's controversial single-family home.

Several graves were found on the property where a house is being built, and many Native Hawaiians and others are continuing to call for the home to be torn down.

Under state law, when Native Hawaiian remains are discovered, construction is supposed to cease until a burial treatment plan has been approved by the island burial council.

Gathering in the Council Chambers during their first meeting of 2010, the members appeared to share the sentiment of most of the dozens of speakers, saying they still had concerns over cement caps placed over some of the known graves, proposed vertical buffers, portions of the home built over known burial sites, and the planned septic system and its impact on burial sites.

"Oh, man, we won one for a change," Hawaiian cultural practitioner Puanani Rogers said after the unanimous vote.

The vote came after a lengthy executive session, in which council members asked the state deputy attorney general about their legal options, said Clisson Kunane Aipoalani, council chairman.

The proposed burial treatment plan doesn't address long-range maintenance and access issues adequately enough, council members said.

Kamoiokalani Sausen, who lives across the street from the Brescia property in Hā'ena, said the burial council should "bulldoze that house. You represent na iwi kūpuna. You represent the Hawaiian people."

"Stop the desecration of the burials," Sausen said. "My heart is broken to feel and to see what has happened, is happening."

Leslie Lang of Wailua Homesteads said, "This is a house built on top of bones. It doesn't belong there. The bones should be left alone, and respected."