Kahea for Descendants of Mapulehu

Community Contributed

By Keomailani Hanapi-Hirata, East Molokai Representative 

In 1991, within the Ahupua’a of Mapulehu, on the parcel of land formally known as the “Mapulehu Glass House,” discovery of human skeletal remains was being uncovered during a development phase of land clearing, with a bulldozer and excavator. An article written in The Honolulu Advertiser on Dec. 21, 1991, titles, “Molokai farm yields ancient remains.” The article describes reports from police, state officials and Molokai burial council, “bones were scattered over about four acres and at least 30 human jawbones were found, and 11 human skulls were recovered along with numerous fragments of human remains.”

In the 30 years since the desecration of this ancient burial ground, according to the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD), no Burial Management/Treatment Plan has been approved for this land parcel in Mapulehu. The land has been allowed to be sold repeatedly. In reports by SHPD, each new landowner proposed plans to want to do some sort of development on the property, which created the discovery of more iwi kupuna. The change of Government Administrators over 30 years has also been a roadblock in progressively completing a Burial Management/Treatment Plan, as well as the challenge to fill MIBC seats, to have an active council. The land is now under the jurisdiction of the Maui County Mayor’s office, which is the current landowner.

On Dec. 16, 2021, Molokai Island Burial Council (MIBC) approved a motion to create a task force to develop a Burial Management/Treatment Plan for this land parcel in Mapulehu.  The task force will consist of two Burial Council Members, the current landowner, and the recognized Lineal and Cultural Descendants.

If you believe you are a descendant to the iwi kupuna in Mapulehu and want to be a part of the task force, please fill out a descendancy claim application at dlnr.hawaii.gov/shpd/files/2016/09/08162016-Descendancy-Claim-Application.pdf.

Our next MIBC meeting is scheduled to be an in-person meeting on March 31 at 10 a.m., at the OHA conference room in Kulana Oiwi, open to the public. 

MIBC’s current representatives are Keomailani Hanapi Hirata, MIBC Chair and East Molokai Representative; La’akea Poepoe, MIBC West Molokai Representative; and Niles Kawehi Soares, MIBC Central Molokai Representative. 

MIBC is a council with the Hawaii State Boards and Commissions. MIBC are consultants to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, State Historic Presentation Division – History and Culture Branch. 

Ola Na iwi!


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