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VIDEO: Rally Against Sand Mining of Maui Dunes

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Throughout the week, demonstrators from the group Iwi Protectors have been waving signs at the County building in Wailuku, Kahului Harbor and along Maui Lani Parkway, calling for a stop to sand mining and export of the resource from Maui to Oʻahu.

A petition that was launched by the Iwi Protectors group on Saturday, had over 500 signatures by Wednesday morning.  In it, the group is asking the mayor to stop the sale of Maui sand and export off island for use in construction projects, by enforcing the County code and revoking a grading permit for the Maui Lani Phase 9 development.

“Now that the county has admitted the landowner needs a conditional use permit and a special use permit to operate, they can easily revoke the grading permit,” the petition states.


The companies reportedly say they believed their grading permits covered all activity, according to an updated report on KHON2.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa had already indicated in a statement last week that he plans to ask the County Council to declare a moratorium on the export of sand off-island.  But demonstrators say new legislation from the council could take months, and warn that Maui’s Central sand dunes continue to be depleted.

While the mayor has said that he supports a moratorium, he also indicated that Maui will need sand for projects and beach replenishment here.  That differs from the view of many of those demonstrating, who expressed a desire to protect the dunes from any depletion due its cultural significance and the presence of ancestral bones.


In an interview with Maui Now, Kaniloa Kamaunu said, “Family members recognize that in the sands, there are burials; so culturally, our people are in there–and to come and take them away, it hurts.”

He continued, “When do we say when our bodies break down (our flesh, our bones, everything)–When do we say what is sand and what is human because once everything breaks down, they get mixed together.  So they are one.  For me, they are not a resource.  They are to be honored and to mālama (be cared for).  For us as kanaka, the Kumulipo tells us that ʻāina is not a possession, but it is our kupuna.  It is in our lineage.  So if it’s in our lineage, it goes to say: mālama ʻāina means mālama kupuna.  For me it should not be touched at all because you can not distinguish what is sand and what is our kupuna…  ʻĀina is kupuna.  We don’t own, but we mālama.”

Wailuku resident Clare Apana also commented saying she has tried to make headway with county officials to do something to stop what she called an “intrusion and desecration of burials in the sand.”


Apana called the continued sand mining a “travesty,” saying it is a part of cultural and natural heritage. “Sand dunes on Maui–you don’t find these anywhere else in the world just as they are here.  Why would we want to sell it to make concrete?”

Some of the signs read: “Protect Our Iwi,” “Stop Sand Mining,” “Stop the Barges, Protect Our Sand Dunes,” “Over 1,000 Iwi Kupuna Bones Uncovered,” and “Support the Moratorium on Dune Sales.”

Ask the Mayor:


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