Rowena Akana, Trustee At-LargeʻAnoʻai kākou… On June 14-15, 2017, the Trustees held community and Board meetings on Maui. Several community members who attended the meetings shared their deep concerns about iwi kūpuna being disturbed by sand dune mining in central Maui.

According the OHA’s administration, the sand dunes have “immense cultural value” and are known to contain iwi of kūpuna from numerous historic battles and from ancient burials. The State Historic Preservation Office within the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Maui and Lānaʻi Island Burial Council has primary jurisdiction over the discovery of ancestral remains and their disposition. However, in 2009, the Maui Lanai Islands Burial Council reportedly asked for an accounting of burials affected by the sand mining, but nothing came from it.

The testifiers informed us that the recent movement of the sand for grading and mining has exposed even more burials. In her testimony, Clare Apana asked the Trustees to support a moratorium on sand mining and to formally recognize the entire sand dune as a protected area and a known burial site. Apana said that more than 1,000 iwi kūpuna have been disturbed in the sand dunes and more will be disturbed with every day that sand mining is allowed to go on.

A recent Star-Advertiser article by Timothy Hurley (dated July 2, 2017) reported that “sand has been mined on Maui since before World War II, but the activity increased in the 1970s as Maui’s inland dunes became the source of sand for concrete used to fuel a construction boom. By 1985, Maui sand started being barged to Honolulu, and over a couple of decades 5.5 million tons were shipped to Oʻahu for use in construction, according to a 2006 report compiled for the county Department of Public Works and Environmental Management. The report had estimated the sand could be depleted in less than 10 years.”

Even more disturbingly, the same Star-Advertiser article also stated that the sand mining on Maui has reportedly been a source of sand for the concrete used to build the pillars and guideways of the Honolulu rail project now under construction. My suggestion to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation is that they better look into it because I’m sure it will affect ridership. Who wants to ride a cursed train?

OHA’s 2015 iwi kūpuna policy calls for the care, management and protection of iwi kūpuna. Many of the Trustees feel passionately about this issue and some even suggested that OHA go to court. The consensus was clear that we have to do something now and we can’t wait any longer.

On June 29, 2017, the Board approved the following motion – The Office of Hawaiian Affairs calls upon Maui Lani Partners to cease all sand and other resource extraction and grading to allow:

  • The Maui Department of Planning to determine if sand extraction violates the Maui Zoning Code;
  • The Maui Department of Public Works to determine if revocation or suspension of the Phase IX grading permit is appropriate; and
  • The State Historic Preservation Department and the Maui Lānaʻi Islands Burial Council to properly investigate the discovery of burials and whether historic preservation laws and conditions have been fully complied with and enforced.

If you care about our ancestral bones say something, do something. Call the Maui County Council. No more shipments of sand from Maui to build rail columns!

Aloha Ke Akua.


Interested in Hawaiian issues & OHA? Please visit my website at www.rowenaakana.org for more information or e-mail me at rowenaa@oha.org.


Note: Trustee columns represent the views of individual trustees and may not reflect the official positions adopted by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees.