East Hawaii News

County Evicts Lui From Kawa Shoreline

October 25, 2012, 5:44 PM HST
* Updated October 25, 5:49 PM
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The county today moved to evict Abel Simeona Lui from a Ka`u shoreline parcel it has acquired for preservation as open space.

Lui claimed to have lived on the land in Kawa for 20 years and to have ancestral ties to the property. However, a Kona judge last year ruled that the county had the authority to remove Lui from the property.

Wally Lau, the county’s deputy managing director, said that Lui and a supporter named Moses agreed to leave the area peacefully, as did three campers nearby. However, a woman at the scene was arrested when she refused to leave.

“We basically closed Kawa down today and asked everybody, including Abel, to move on,” Lau said.

Abel Lui. Facebook image.

A longtime Hawaiian activist, Lui had resisted efforts to move him from the property, leading to several confrontations with county officials over the past several years.

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Some members of the public have said that Lui has welcomed them to the shoreline there, which includes a surfing break, while others have told authorities that Lui refused to allow them to enter the area.

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Over a period of several years the county acquired a total of 784 acres of Kawa shoreline for $6.1 million through its Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation program.

Lau said the decision to evict Lui came following a survey last month by a group that included archaeologists and families with lineal ties to the area. The survey revealed more than 60 burial sites and 159 other cultural features which he said the county by law is obligated to protect.

At least one burial site was in the general vicinity of Lui’s house, he said.

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County public works crews were dismantling Lui’s house and other structures this afternoon. Any possessions left behind will be stored at the Ka`u police station where they can be claimed, Lau said.

Representatives of social service agencies were on hand to provide assistance to those leaving the area, but none requested their help, he said.

The area will be closed for 30 days while archaeologist Robert Rechtman conducts additional surveys. The closure will be enforced by police.

After that period, and once a management plan for the cultural sites has been prepared, limited daytime access to the property will be allowed, Lau said.

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