Burial Sites Program
The management of burial sites over 50 years old falls under the purview of the Historic Preservation Division. Approximately 98% of the burial cases handled by the division relate to native Hawaiian skeletal remains.
The division works with other cultural organizations when burial remains related to their specific ethnic group are discovered. Five “Island Burial Councils” are administratively attached to the division to address concerns relating to Native Hawaiian burial sites.
Anyone who wishes to relocate, or preserve in place, previously identified, Hawaiian burials over 50 years old must obtain the approval of the appropriate Island Burial Council, which meets on a monthly basis on its respective islands.
Any skeletal remains accidentally discovered must be reported to the Historic Preservation Division and County police. If burial remains are estimated to be less than 50 years old, they fall under the jurisdiction of the local police.
The division currently responds to approximately 2-3 inadvertent discoveries each week, and is involved in up to 250 burial cases annually. Since 1991, approximately 3,000 sets of native Hawaiian skeletal remains have been re-interred thanks to the collaborative efforts of the division, various Hawaiian organizations, and property owners.