Protecting `Iolani Monument

Proposed DLNR rules may place new restrictions on all visitors to `Iolani Monument.

A set of new restrictions may change the way visitors can interact with `Iolani Monument in an effort to preserve the historical landmark.

By Zalina Alvi

New rules may soon change the way visitors interact with the `Iolani Palace State Monument.

Residents of Molokai, however, are arguing that rules applying to the general public should take the special needs of Native Hawaiians into consideration.

The proposal is part of an effort to preserve the historic landmark, which is the only palace in the United States and the former home of Hawaiian monarchy.

The department is currently seeking public testimony before making a decision on whether to implement the proposal.

Remembering the Native Hawaiians
Phil Ohta, Maui district parks administrator, hosted a formal public meeting in Kaunakakai last Tuesday to hear testimony on the proposed changes.

The majority of those who attended the meeting felt that the rules should reflect the special needs and privileges of the native Hawaiians who have strong ties to the monument and its history. By a show of hands at the meeting, many believed native Hawaiians should be included in a set of rules that apply to all visitors.

“How are the interests of the Hawaiians going to be served if the rules apply to the general public?” asked homesteader Walter Ritte.

Testimonies were recorded by Ohta and will be taken into consideration as DLNR makes its decision. Written testimonies can be submitted until Sept. 5 to Ohta at the Division of State Parks, 1151 Punchbowl St., Room 310, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96813.

Changes to the Rules
Currently, the restrictions that apply to the monument are the same rules that apply to all state parks, such as the ban of the use or possession of alcoholic beverages on the property.

This summer, however, the DLNR drafted a new set of rules that will apply specifically to the monument in order to “recognize, protect, and preserve the historic and cultural significance of the Monument and to meet the Monument’s educational mission to preserve the character of the era of Hawaii’s monarchy,” according to the new DLNR subchapter.

The proposed restrictions on all visitors to the palace come in the form of 14 rules, which include bans on climbing, trimming or cutting any tree, and taking showers or bathing on the grounds. There is also a list of 12 activities that will be allowed with permits within certain limits, for example using the grounds for a wedding.

A list of restrictions that apply to the general public when visiting the monument has been drafted by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), and will apply to `Iolani Palace, Barracks, Coronation Pavilion, Kanaina Building (old archives building), Kekauluohi Building (state archives building), and 11 acres of grounds including the perimeter wall and fence.

Preserving the `Iolani Palace State Monument
Built in 1882, `Iolani Palace served as house to Hawaii’s last monarchs, King Kalakaua and Queen Lili`uokalani. The site has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a designated National Historic Landmark since 1962.

Before the arrival of the missionaries in the 1820’s, the grounds were also home to the temple Kaahimauili, and later a small mausoleum to house the remains of King Liholiho and Queen Kamamalu.

The palace that currently exists is the second to sit on these grounds. The original palace was built during Kamehameha III’s reign, and was a one-story building made out of coral block that occupied a third of the grounds that the current palace sits on.

Today, `Iolani Monument is a public gathering site. The Friends of `Iolani Palace, a non-profit organization, acts as the State’s steward of the palace under a lease agreement, and holds the official designation as the State of Hawaii Museum of Monarchy History.

The mission statement for The Friends of `Iolani Palace reads: “To preserve, restore, interpret, share and celebrate the unique cultural, historic, and spiritual qualities of `Iolani Palace and its Grounds for the benefit of Native Hawaiians, the People of Hawaii, and the world.”

The new rules can be read in full at


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