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Maui Petroglyphs Damaged in Paintball Attack

July 7, 2021, 2:07 PM HST
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Authorities are seeking the public’s help in identifying the individual(s) responsible for vandalizing Hawaiian petroglyphs in Maui’s Olowalu Valley.

DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) was notified of the vandalism on June 29, after someone with a paintball gun fired shot after shot all over the cliff face of Pu’u Kilea. The paintballs landed on some of the petroglyphs, officials confirmed.

“I would guess several hundred paintballs were shot at this historical site,” said DOCARE Lt. John Yamamoto.

About 100 petroglyphs spread across the face of the basalt cliff. Rock art includes human and animal figures, canoes and sails. The images, or ki’i pohaku, chiseled into the rock are estimated to be more than 300 years old. The petroglyphs are believed to represent legends or stories of the early Hawaiians.

Yamamoto said the “attack” appeared random and the paintball gun was likely fired from down on the road.

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“White and yellow splotches of paint are spread across nearly the entire cliff face from the top to the base and from one side to the other,” Yamamoto added. “A great battle happened in this Ahupuaʻa and it’s hurtful to see this kind of disrespect for our culture.”

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According to online accounts, in 1790, an American ship opened fire on Hawaiian canoes. More than 100 men were killed and another 200 were hurt. The massacre led to retribution when the next western ship arrived and its entire crew was attacked and killed, except for one man, who later became an advisor to King Kamehameha the Great.

In the past, the site has also been vandalized with graffiti.

The vandal(s) could face charges of criminal property damage, in addition to civil penalties.

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“This is so sad to see,” Yamamoto said. “Like many others, I visited this place when I was a young boy. Anyone with information can call DLNR here on Maui at 873-3990. We do work seven days a week, holidays included.”

Anonymous tips can also be called into the 24-hour DOCARE hotline at 643-DLNR(3567) or via the DLNRTip app, downloadable for free on Android and Apple devices.

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