Appeal is latest in Honolulu church remains battle


THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

HONOLULU — A Hawaiian cultural specialist who has relatives buried on the grounds of a historic Honolulu church has filed an appeal in another effort to halt further excavation of burials there.

Dana Naone Hall filed an appeal Feb. 1 claiming that a Circuit Court judge erred in a previous ruling that state law protecting Native Hawaiian burials didn't apply to Kawaiahao Church because the burials were in a Christian cemetery. She also contends state officials approved disinterment of graves without following laws that protect iwi, or Hawaiian burials.

Naone Hall and other Native Hawaiians said cultural tradition calls for them to protect their ancestors' remains. Her appeal is the latest legal challenge to constructing a $17.5 million multipurpose building for Honolulu's oldest church, which is referred to as the Westminster Abbey of Hawaii. Her 2009 lawsuit against the project was recently dismissed.

Work was halted in 2009 after 69 sets of human remains were unearthed. Work resumed last year with excavation done by hand after state officials approved disinterment.