Letter: Burning of iwi kupuna is desecration of the highest order

Letter to the Editor

Fire burns disinterred remains at Kawaiahao Church. What? How is it that disinterred remains, also known as iwi kupuna or the bones of our ancestors, were left exposed to this desecration by Cultural Surveys Hawaii, the company contracted and paid to dig up human remains at Kawaiahao Church. How is it that Kawaiahao Church has allowed this to happen on their watch? How is this possible?

It is happening because Kawaiahao Church has perpetrated their own desecration upon at least 69 burials by digging them up, putting these remains into baskets, and locking them in a caged room and leaving them in the basement of their church for over two years. Presently, Kawaiahao Church continues to dig up human remains from their backyard because these iwi kupuna are “in the way” of a multi-million dollar building they plan to build on a wing and a prayer. 

This desecration by someone who thought it was OK to burn the remains of one of the iwi kupuna who had been negligently left exposed by Cultural Surveys Hawaii is allowed to happen because the church is not fulfilling their obligation and responsibility to those who are buried in the shadow of their church. Abuse of a corpse is a desecration of the highest order and the desecration lies squarely on the shoulders of the church officials and congregation members who continue to condone these actions. Mass excavations are ongoing at Kawaiahao Church and iwi kupuna are being dug up with no regard for the families who have come forward time and time again to ask, to plead and to insist that this horrible act cease and desist.

So let this hewa, this wrong doing, fall where it belongs. The kuleana and the responsibility for these actions fall at the feet of everyone who has willingly and knowingly condoned and participated in this desecration. Let it be. The kupuna will have the last word. And when they do, heaven help us all.

Kamuela Andrea Kapuananialiiokama Kala’i
A concerned mo’opuna