Updated: Aug 9, 2020
Aloha mai kākou,
My name is Summer Fukumitsu. I am a resident of Hakipuʻu. My husband Kōlea and our four children are cultural descendants of iwi kūpuna on the Naholowaʻa property in Hakipuʻu, Oʻahu. We are Native Hawaiian ahupuaʻa tenants with long genealogical ties to Hakipuʻu. Our ʻohana have been living on these kuleana lands in Hakipuʻu since time immemorial.
Given this status, we have constitutional and statutory rights. These laws reaffirm Native Hawaiian traditional, customary, and religious practices. These laws mandate the protection of our inherent rights as hoaʻāina (Native tenants) here in Hakipuʻu that we have access throughout the ahupuaʻa along our traditional trails, that we can gather, fish, hunt, and ensure that pure life-giving waters of our ahupuaʻa sustain our families, our loʻi, our resources.
There are also State laws recognizing the significance of our sacred sites and ancestral burials, that ensure their protection and our access rights. Kualoa Ranch, as a private landowner, is not exempt from the law. It must take the role of a trustee to ensure the integrity and protection of our wahi and iwi kūpuna and to accommodate our access rights. (See page 24-25 of Hoʻi Hou I Ka Iwikuamoʻo: A Legal Primer for the Protection of Iwi Kūpuna in Hawaiʻi Nei)
Unfortunately, Kualoa Ranch has violated that trust, destroyed cultural sites and burials. Today we would like to share with you a timeline of the events that took place at the Naholowaʻa kuleana property where burial sites were destroyed through illegal grading and grubbing activities. My pleas to halt the grading and grubbing were neglected and Kualoa Ranch hauled off site large amounts of topsoil, trees, and stones that were grave markers despite our pleas to Kualoa Ranch to stop. This has caused much anguish and spiritual harm to the families of Hakipuʻu. We have asked that an investigation be done to redress these harms. This process has been incredibly draining emotionally, physically, and spiritually for the Hakipuʻu ʻohana. I do not know how to make this right. How do I say to the kūpuna, “I am sorry I didn't stop it in time. I tried, but I don't know how to make it right. I don't know how to make this ʻāina right again.” We hope that by shedding light on what occurred, we can begin to heal this ʻāina.
These are the events that occurred between August and October 2019 at
49-093 Johnson Road
Kāneʻohe, Hawaiʻi 96744
TMK number 49003008,
ʻĀpana 1 Land Commission Award 6118 to Naholowaʻa
At the end of August, we noticed a Barney’s Roll-Off container delivered to the Naholowa’a property on Johnson Road. Workers told us that they were just planning on hauling away some of the rubbish on site.
Unpermitted Grading and Grubbing
9/9/19: While my husband, Kōlea, and I were visiting Maunakea, my mom called to say that she noticed Kualoa Ranch workers bringing in machinery and starting grading and grubbing work on the Naholowaʻa lot. I inquired with the Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) and learned that there were no permits for any work. I then contacted the city and county Real Property Tax Office. According to them, there were numerous names on the title, but none of them were “Kualoa Ranch.” To this day, Kualoa Ranch still does not own the Naholowaʻa land.
9/10/19: The next day, we changed our flight and returned home because we were urgently concerned about iwi kūpuna on the Naholowaʻa lot. We wanted to alert Kualoa Ranch of the presence of iwi kūpuna and to stop any work that would disturb the burial sites. Workers on site who we spoke to claimed they were leveling out the ground before building a house. If Kualoa Ranch proceeded with grading and grubbing this area, Kōlea and I knew that the iwi would be in danger.
9/11/19: I called the Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) again and learned that Kualoa Ranch did not have a building permit. Therefore, they were grading, grubbing, and beginning construction on a site that was not approved by any agencies.
-- If Kualoa Ranch had applied for a permit, that application would have triggered action by the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD). Then, SHPD would have required an Archaeological Inventory Survey (AIS). An AIS would make apparent what the Hakipuʻu community already knew from our elders – that area of the Naholowaʻa property is the resting site for iwi kūpuna and should remain undeveloped out of respect for the dead and their descendants.
-- I then left a message for the inspector about the grading and grubbing that was happening and that Kualoa Ranch was preparing to build a house. There were batter boards up and we were told by Kualoa Ranch workers that they were going to excavate footing for the foundation of a house.
9/12/19: We received a call from the DPP inspector, who informed us that Kualoa Ranch had just been issued a building permit. According to SHPD this building permit was rushed and the DPP bypassed the State Historic Preservations Division (SHPD). The law specifies that SHPD must be consulted on proposed projects that may affect historic sites and burial sites. If they are present, SHPD requires that an Archaeological Inventory Survey (AIS) be done and the burial council review a burial treatment plan with actions that would mitigate harm. This entire process was bypassed.
9/13/19-9/15/19: I reached out to the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC) and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) who told me to contact SHPD.
9/16/19: I contacted Regina Hilo, the SHPD Burial Sites Specialist for Oʻahu, to apprise her of the situation. Regina Hilo then sent an email to SHPD staff and Kamakana Ferreira from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs about our phone calls and the Memo that she planned to write regarding the property.
9/18/19: The Fukumitsu ʻohana attended a meeting at the Oʻahu Island Burial Council (OIBC). While the burials located in Hakipuʻu were not on the agenda, there was a section at the end of the OIBC agenda regarding “unpermitted grading and grubbing.” Kōlea, my kids, and I used this opportunity to speak about the iwi kūpuna who were at risk, and who had already been harmed. After sharing our concern with representatives of the Burial Council and the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD), we began the formal process to obtain official status as cultural descendants of the burials located at Naholowaʻa. Additionally, OIBC recommended that SHPD conduct a site visit for Naholowaʻa.
9/19/19: Kualoa Ranch workers put up temporary fencing to block access to the property. Workers said they would be putting up a permanent fence the following week.
9/20/19: Regina Hilo sent an email informing us that she would notify DPP about the burial site.
9/18/19-9/23/19: Kualoa Ranch worked around the clock, all hours even on weekends. During this time the Hakipuʻu community witnessed Kualoa Ranch employees grading and grubbing. We watched as workers tore open the land and roll-off containers hauled tons of earth out of Hakipuʻu. After the land had been torn open, Kōlea remembers, the whole Hakipuʻu community felt a heaviness, a sense of sadness, caused by the grading and grubbing at Naholowaʻa.
9/22/19: On Sunday morning, I confronted Kualoa Ranch workers, telling them that they needed a special work permit to work on weekends and to be working this many hours a day. The supervisor on site replied, “The ranch can do whatever they want. We don’t need permits. I've been working for the ranch for over 20 years and we work whenever we want.”
9/23/19: I begged the workers to stop, and when they didn't, I drove to Kualoa Ranch to plead with the President, John Morgan, to stop this act of desecration. I explained our concerns in detail and explained that an Archaeological Inventory Survey (AIS) needed to be done.
9/25/19: John Morgan hired a cultural practitioner to bless the property. John introduced us to the archaeologist he would have on site, Elizabeth Chandler of Scientific Consultant Services (SCS). That day we sent an email letter to John Morgan, asking him to stop all work until he meets with Hakipuʻu ʻOhana.
After the “blessing,” I emailed Regina Hilo about iwi that we found on the site and informed her that work had increased tenfold since the OIBC meeting.
9/27/19: Morgan Davis and Katherine Harrington, an archaeologist and an osteologist from SCS, visited Naholowaʻa to assess the iwi that we found on the site. SCS concluded that the bone is faunal/nonhuman. Additionally, they recommended that burial registration is required prior to proceeding with this project. SCS had very limited involvement and was not informed of the full scope of Kualoa Ranch’s project. Regina Hilo sent us an email that day, saying that SHPD had not been informed by SCS of the discovery of iwi.
9/28/19-9/29: Kualoa Ranch continued work over the weekend.
Lineal Descendants Speak Up
9/28/19: Elsie Ryder applied to be recognized as a lineal descendant to Naholowaʻa. Her mother’s siblings are buried on the property.
SHPD Site Visit
9/30/20: Regina Hilo (SHPD), John Morgan, Moroni Riordan (Construction Manager), Elizabeth Chandler (SCS), and Morgan Davis (SCS) were all present for the SHPD site visit. I asked Kualoa ranch to give us access to sift through the 4 container loads of soil that were hauled away in roll-off bins. The containers were taken to the Kualoa Ranch house to be used as backfill. In response, Moroni laughed at me and said he didn’t know what I was talking about. He refused to give us access to the mountains of dirt and rock that were hauled away from our ancestral land.
-- John Morgan claimed that his lawyers needed to read through the letter we sent on September 25 and he refused to halt the excavation work.
-- At the end of the meeting, I presented a map to everyone that shows graves clearly marked at the ‘Inoʻino property down the road. I explained to everyone that I wanted to prevent what happened at Naholowa’a from happening again at ‘Inoʻino.
10/1/19: Another Hakipuʻu ʻohana member emailed John Morgan. Morgan responded claiming that the only work Kualoa Ranch had done was to “clean up the vast amounts of rubbish and debris that was left of the land, prune a few trees, grub some bushes and [conduct] minor landscaping.” The grading and grubbing that we observed was far beyond the scope that Morgan described. This is the last correspondence that we received from him regarding the Naholowaʻa property.
Shortly thereafter, Kualoa Ranch slowed down work at Naholowaʻa and purchased the ʻInoʻino property, quickly beginning destructive work down the road. We had very little time to process the trauma at Naholowaʻa before we had to shift focus to protecting iwi at ʻInoʻino.
- Summer Fukumitsu