State briefs for February 8

Germany to return remains to Hawaii from museums

BERLIN (AP) — The body overseeing Berlin’s museums will hand over Hawaiian ancestral remains collected by a German naturalist in the 19th century to authorities in Hawaii.


The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation said Monday that the remains of 32 individuals, known as “iwi kupuna,” will be handed over Friday to a representative of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a semi-autonomous state agency directed by Native Hawaiians.

“Human remains from colonial contexts have no place in our museums and universities,” Germany’s culture minister, Claudia Roth, said a statement. “Their return must be a priority.”

The remains were part of collections that the heritage foundation took over from Berlin’s Charite hospital in 2011 and whose provenance it is researching. The foundation said the bones were acquired by collector and naturalist Hermann Otto Finsch around 1880 during a voyage to the South Pacific and were sent to Berlin.

Most of the bones are probably several hundred years old and were collected from a beach at Waimanalo on Oahu island. Two more skulls came from a place in Hawaii that can’t be identified precisely, the foundation said.

Discussions about repatriating the remains had been ongoing since 2017.

In addition to the human remains, the Berlin foundation plans to return to Hawaii this year funerary items that were removed from burial caves around 1885.

Groups sue over resort lights that disorient seabirds

HONOLULU (AP) — Bright lights at a luxury Hawaii resort are killing endangered seabirds, according to a lawsuit filed Monday by conservation groups that say hotel officials need to do more to protect the species.

Artificial lights at Maui’s Grand Wailea disorient Hawaiian petrels as they navigate between breeding colonies and the ocean, the Conservation Council for Hawaii and the Center for Biological Diversity said.

The seabirds can mistake the lights for the moon and stars they instinctively use as a guide to fly out to sea.

During the fledging season from late September to early December, Hawaiian petrels heading to sea for the first time are drawn to artificial lights, circling them until they fall to the ground from exhaustion or hit human-made structures, the lawsuit said.

Even grounded birds that aren’t injured may not be able to take off again and could die.

From 2008 to 2021 at least 15 Hawaiian petrels were attracted to the Grand Wailea’s lights, and at least one was found dead, the lawsuit said.

Protecting all wildlife in the community is important to the resort, a spokesperson at Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, said in a statement.

Former mayor stands behind 3 indicted ex-officials

HONOLULU (AP) — Former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he is confident in the innocence of three former city officials who have been indicted for allegedly conspiring to hide the source of public funds used to get a police chief to retire during a corruption investigation.

Roy Amemiya, the city’s former managing director; Donna Leong, the city’s former top civil attorney; and Max Sword, who led the Honolulu Police Commission from 2016 to 2018, surrendered to the FBI last month.

According to an indictment, the trio arranged for ex-chief Louis Kealoha’s $250,000 payout in 2017.

The alleged wrongdoing occurred when Caldwell was mayor. Caldwell said in a statement he is confident “they did not commit a crime” and will be acquitted.

Amemiya, Leong and Sword arranged to use police department funds allocated for salaries to circumvent approval from the City Council, the indictment said.

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