Protecting the Irreplaceable
Hawaii has a rich history, which means the state has a wide range of historic places that should be preserved, conserved and protected. Molokai is leading the way in historic preservation, according to Kiersten Faulkner, executive director of nonprofit Historic Hawaii Foundation (HHF).
“Molokai has set the standard and set the bar high on preserving active cultural sites, such as the fishponds restoration,” said Faulkner, who came to Molokai May 17 to hold a seminar on historic preservation. “Molokai has been fierce advocates for a sense of place. The rest of the state is way behind Molokai.”
About 15 Molokai residents and HHF representatives met at Kulana `Oiwi to discuss the importance of preserving historic resources on Molokai. HHF, in partnership with the Hawaii State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD), offered community seminars on preserving Hawaii’s historic and cultural places to audiences on Kauai, Lanai, Molokai and lastly Maui from March until June 2014.
The SHPD, a part of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, is the official keeper of the Hawaii Register of Historic Places and maintains an inventory of all historic properties in Hawaii — approximately 38,000, with 1,000 new ones added annually.
The National Register of Historic Places is a list of the nation’s culture resources, historic buildings and archeological sites worthy of preservation. The Hawaii Register of Historic Places is a list of Hawaii’s cultural and historic resources that have been identified as significant for preservation such as fishponds, districts, bridges and buildings. Both registry programs are administered by the National or Hawaii National Park Service (NPS), which preserves the natural resources of America.
Molokai community members pinpointed historic places they would like registered.
Marcia Allison, Maunaloa Elementary School teacher, said she would like to see Maunaloa Town, Kalaniana`ole Hall, Coconut Grove and several other places add to the registry.
Edwina Cacoulidis, president of Ho`olehua Hawaiian Civic Club, said she would like to see Kalua`aha Congregational Church, the oldest Congregational Church on the island and the largest churches built in its time in Hawaii, added.
“What makes this island different from every other place in the world and how do people relate to each other is what should be preserved,” Faulkner said. “It’s a remarkable place. Having the feeling, setting and association that we have in all of these locations is incredibly special.”
Any individual can nominate a property for listing on the Hawaii and National Register of Historic Places, although historians and historic preservation consultants are often employed for this. A nomination form with basic information on the property’s physical appearance and type of significance embodied in the building must be submitted to the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) of Hawaii, who oversees the national and state register program for each state.
The SHPO then provides feedback to the nominating individual or group. After review, the SHPO sends the nomination to the historic review commission, which then recommends whether the SHPO should submit it to the register. After the nomination is recommended for listing on the register it is sent to the NPS, which either approves, if criteria is met, or denies the nomination, according to the SHPD.
There are criteria and standards for assessing and treatment of historic properties.
A place must be at least 50 years old to be registered; however there are some exceptions, such as Ground Zero and Pearl Harbor.
At least one of four criteria of significance must be met to be historic. The criteria include association with the lives or persons significant to the past, such as Washington Place, where Queen Lili`uokalani was arrested during the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Another criterion, archaeology, requires a property have information to contribute to understanding human history like Honouliuli Internment Camp.
Additionally, a place must retain historic integrity by meeting one of seven aspects of integrity. The aspects are: materials, design, feeling location, association, workmanship and setting.
“Preservation benefits the community and everyone is responsible for the historic resources,” said Megan Borthwick, preservation program manager of HHF. “Historic preservation provides a link to the roots of the community to its people.”
All in all, preservation benefits the community, Borthwick said. She said one of the main takeaways from the seminar is for people to understand that everyone is responsible for preservation in the community.
“People see different things and recognize their importance in different ways,” Faulkner said. “There may be a property or historic resource that’s very significant and important to everybody, and there are ways we can all work together and save the historic and cultural places that mean so much to all of us.”