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Hawaiian burial site may have been found in path of rail project

By Kevin Dayton

LAST UPDATED: 1:25 p.m. HST, Sep 13, 2012

The first Hawaiian burial to be discovered in the path of the Honolulu rail project may have been unearthed in Kakaako by a crew conducting an archaeological survey for the train project.

Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Executive Director Daniel Grabauskas joined Hallett H. Hammatt of Cultural Surveys Hawaii this morning at the site at Cooke and Halekauwila streets to discuss the find.

Also visiting the site to inspect the survey trench were State Historic Preservation Division Administrator Pua Aiu, Oahu Island Burial Council Chair Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu and OIBC Vice Chairman Jonathan Likeke Scheuer.

Aiu and other officials declined to discuss the find, and Aiu said she would discuss the discovery with media later in the day. A survey crew at the site stopped work and covered the trench early this afternoon after the inspections.

The city has been surveying the 20-mile rail route in sections, and still has not completed the portions of the route in urban Honolulu where experts agree that burials are most likely to be found.

Last month, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled SHPD violated its own rules by allowing construction on the $5.26 billion rail project to proceed before an archaeological survey was completed for the entire rail route.

In a unanimous ruling, the court found that rules governing the SHPD do not allow the SHPD to agree to the rail project until the city finishes the survey to determine if there are Native Hawaiian burials or other archaeological resources in the path of the rail line.

The city then stopped construction on the rail project, and has accelerated work on the archaeological survey.

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