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Suit seeks to stop hotel renovation after bodies found

Updated: 
May 19, 2017 - 9:09am

HONOLULU (AP) — The Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. has filed a lawsuit to temporarily stop the renovation of a Waikiki hotel after the remains of two people were found below an elevator shaft.

The lawsuit was filed last week. It calls the Pacific Beach Hotel property a “burial site for Native Hawaiians during lengthy pre-contact and post-contact periods of time,” the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (http://bit.ly/2q3KKTX).

The firm also writes in the lawsuit that it believes the state Department of Land and Natural Resources undermined a Hawaii law set in place to protect burials.

The firm wants a survey to be done to check for more human burials, and it wants the Oahu Island Burial Council involved.

The firm filed the lawsuit on behalf of Oahu resident Paulette Kaleikini, who has been involved in other cases protecting burial remains. She is a recognized cultural descendant of Hawaiians who long ago lived in the area where the hotel now resides.

“She is very concerned that more kupuna (ancestors) will be impacted should the project continue without a proper survey,” the firm wrote in a statement.

The hotel’s renovations are being done while it is still open. All 839 guest rooms have been refurbished, the “Oceanarium” is being renovated and a new pool deck and two restaurants are being added, among other additions.

The renovations also include excavating five to eight feet down to accommodate utilities.

Representatives of the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the hotel did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

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