Collapsed cemetery wall expected to be replaced by end of the year

WAILUKU – Maui Memorial Park is looking to finish rebuilding more than 150 feet of wall that collapsed nearly a year ago by the end of this year, officials said.

The 20-foot-high section that runs parallel to Waiinu Road originally fell Dec. 28 and caused a road closure because of fallen debris. More than two dozen vaults and burials were affected by the collapse, with some being exposed and reportedly troubling residents.

On Monday, General Manager Pat Puana said, “At no time were any caskets exposed,” only the vaults.

“Vaults are a cemetery requirement, and it helps the earth settle and protects the casket or urn,” she said. “However, the vaults that were exposed were empty due to earlier disinterments but left in place per the contractors’ recommendation in helping with the stability of the wall while it is under construction.”

Puana said that the park had run into some “unforeseen obstacles” and attributed much of the delays to building permits and boundaries. She said that each of the affected families has been contacted and “continue to be understanding.”

“It was just an unfortunate event that occurred,” she said. “Families just want to see the construction completed and their loved ones returned to their original place of rest. The permitting phase was challenging, but all parties involved worked together for resolutions. It all came together not due to any one particular effort but a group effort.”

The damaged section was believed to have been built during the park’s original construction in the 1960s, park officials said, and fell due to decades of wear and tear and an outdated double-wall design. The old wall had sections built on top of one another, while the new construction will have an 18-foot base built diagonally upward and inward.

The wall will cost more than $250,000 and look aesthetically like the rest of the wall with a river rock design, Puana said. On Monday, workers were preparing to pour cement for the extended footing.

While construction continues on the collapsed wall, the park’s new “Maui View” mausoleum space is expected to be completed by May, Puana said.

The approximate $3.5-million project located across from the park includes 880 marble-and-glass niches, 300 lawn crypts and 119 standard grave sites on the 4-acre property.

While juggling the two major projects simultaneously, Puana said life has been “very hectic and stressful to say the least.”

“On one hand, I have a project that would be anybody’s nightmare (and) I have to credit the families on Maui who have been directly affected,” she said. “They have been exceptionally understanding and I am grateful for their patience.

“On the other, I have a project that is much needed here on Maui and is well-received by the community.”

The park has only a few spaces available in its main cemetery area, but it’s offering pre-construction discounts at the new mausoleum space. Prices start at $2,800.

* Chris Sugidono can be reached at