Charges Dropped Against Five Women Arrested in Demonstration at West Maui Site

November 18, 2020, 9:04 PM HST · Updated November 18, 9:04 PM
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PC: Kiaʻi Kauaula

Charges have reportedly been dropped against five Lahaina women who were arrested last month for refusing to leave a construction site in West Maui.

The group continues to voice opposition to trenching and utility installation work amid a dispute involving protection of ancestral burials and claims of kuleana lands.

The individuals arrested–identified as: Uilani Kapu, 55; Lindal Magalianes, 57; Victoria Kahina-Palafox, 64; Kahikalani Niles, 35; and Consuelo Apolo-Gonsalvez, 47–were all released after posting $100 bail each.

The women with the Kiaʻi Kauaula group, who go by the name Nā Wāhine Koa, made a public statement at Lahaina District Court on Monday where they say their bail was refunded.

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Following their arrest on Oct. 13, construction crews working on the same water line, later encountered human remains at a separate site on Oct. 23.

Representatives with West Maui Construction say that out of respect for the sensitive nature of the area, the company has had archaeological monitors at the worksite.  As of Nov. 18, work on the irrigation waterline had not resumed and the company was still awaiting guidance from the State Historic Preservation Division.

“West Maui Construction looks forward to finishing the irrigation waterline project and will continue to observe all laws,” the company said in a statement to Maui Now.

The statement further read: “The incident involving Nā Wahine Koa was unfortunate and West Maui Construction respects their right to peacefully protest. Safety is a top priority of West Maui Construction so it is imperative that while protesting the project people stay out of active construction areas. West Maui Construction respects the right to protest however it needs to be done in a safe manner which does not obstruct or hinder work on the irrigation waterline.”

The company has expressed concern that “without government and/or law enforcement intervention, private property rights throughout the County, could be negatively impacted.”

The Kia’i group issued a press release on Monday saying they are asking for the record of arrests to be expunged as soon as possible. “Kia’i Kauaula demand the County take meaningful, affirmative action to prevent future civil and political rights violations and commit to avoiding the criminalizing of Kānaka Maoli exercising constitutionally protected practices.”

West Maui Construction meantime, says it has been in dialogue with the County in an attempt to find a mutual understanding with those who are opposed to the project.

The waterline in question is being constructed for Laniupoko Irrigation Company, a PUC regulated utility that supplies irrigation water to the Makila/Laniupoko/Lahaina area, to supporting farming needs.

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