In December 2014, I was generously awarded a $300.00 grant from the Graduate Student Organization at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in order to attend the 2015 Association of Hawaii Archivists Annual Meeting, Celebrating the Archives and Cultural Sites of Ka Moku o Keawe which was held on Hawai‘i Island on February 14-15, 2015.

During this trip our group visited colleagues, archives and cultural sites on Hawai‘i Island in the towns of Kona, Waimea and Honoka‘a.

Saturday, February 14th

Sunday, February 15th

I have never missed an AHA annual meeting and I was so lucky to be able to attend this one – my last meeting as an AHA student member in my final semester in the University of Hawaii LIS program. Over the last two years in this program I have had a chance to learn so much about the information science field. However, since my focus is in Archives and Special Collections, as well as a graduate certificate in Historic Preservation – this trip was an extra special experience for me.

After spending almost three years involved in AHA as a student member, I have come to know a lot of the people in the group by working with them as a volunteer in their organizations (such as the Bishop Museum, the Hawaii State Archive, the University of Hawaii Preservation Department and the Shangri La Doris Duke House) or just in classroom settings through the LIS program and I am so lucky for all of their support and experiences.

Day 1

The first day we started out the Kona Historical Society where we were welcomed with a nice spread of breakfast treats, an introduction about the archive and living farm as well as their plans for building an extension on the grounds. After this introduction, they broke us into two small groups and while one went downstairs into the archives, the other went upstairs into the general store where we were greeted by employees dressed in period-clothing. This was so much fun!

We were tasked with bringing in various goods to trade and also provided with a list of items we were to either purchase or ask about such as several feet of handmade rope, rice, soap, matching bridle buckles for our horse and also mail. This experience brought us all back to what it was like to live on Hawaii Island within a small community and made the people whose records are maintained in the archives, that much more closer to us.  We were then brought downstairs to the archive which holds historical collections of photographs, unpublished diaries, letters, family records, land documents, books and more.

After the Kona Historical Society we moved on up the road about a mile to visit the Kona Coffee Living History Farm, a 5.5 acre homestead from 1900 and which is the only living history coffee farm in the United States. We were welcomed with cold and hot Kona coffee and invited to listen to a short introduction about the grounds and then allowed to walk the grounds to enjoy the experience of being transported in time to the daily lives of early Japanese immigrants and coffee farmers during the period of 1920-1945. While we walked through the land, we discovered coffee and macadamia nut orchards, a historic farmhouse (where Japanese incense was being burned), farm animals such as donkeys and chickens and were able to talk story with the interpreters who showed us how the coffee was processed and how the garden and crops were cared for. All of these elements used all of the senses to transport us back to that time!

Next on our agenda was the Huliheʻe Palace which was was built by the second Governor of the Island of Hawai`i, John Adams Kuakini and completed in 1838. The building is unique in that it was constructed using native lava rock, coral lime mortar as well as local woods such as koa and ‘ohi‘a.  Although we were not allowed to take photographs inside the building, it has two floors and six rooms which includes an entry hall (with an amazing chandelier), parlor, dining room, second floor sitting room and two bedrooms. The related collections contain sculptures, furniture, paintings, books, textiles, clothing and more. In 1925 the Palace was purchased by the Territory of Hawai`i and is now operated as a museum through the Daughters of Hawai`i. It is a wonderful part of Hawai‘i’s history and should not be missed while in Kona.

As a massive rain storm moved in that evening, we all made our way back to Waimea to the Pukalani Stables where we enjoyed an exhibit in the Paniolo Heritage Center on site, a wonderful meal and inspiring talk by Dr. Billy Bergin (“just Billy” according to him). The mission of the Pukalani Stables is to preserve the heritage of the Hawaiian cowboy (the paniolo) through the Cultural Center at the stables. They do this by creating exhibits, collecting local history in the form of objects and oral history which is hen shared with the community.

Watch this video to learn more about the paniolos of Hawai’i!

Day 2

We began the second day of this trip by visiting the North Hawaiʻi Education & Research Center (NHERC) where Momi Naughton, Ph. D., Heritage Center Coordinator provided a short tour of the current collections which includes photographs, land documents and more as well as the upcoming gallery that is still being created. An interesting side note about this location is that it has the only elevator in Kona! The NHERC is affiliated with the University of Hawaii – Hilo. After our tour, we came together as a group to enjoy lunch and held our annual meeting where minutes were discussed and passed.

“Hawaiians believed that under certain conditions…a shark could be a ‘aumakua – a beneficent guardian spirit, a family protector [or] a fishing helper…” – Sharks of Hawaii: Their Biology and Cultural Significance by Leighton R. Taylor

The last leg of the trip was spent at the Puʻukoholā Heiau. This is historic site was integral in Hawaiian prophesy, the kapu system and Kamehameha’s rise to power. We were very lucky to have a few members of our group who are highly educated in the topic and location who gave us additional information before we began our walkabout. The walk of the grounds included a view of the Heiau, which is closed off to the general public as well as an overlook of where there are thought to have been shark holding pins for the practice of shark riding.

This trip was jam-packed with tours and events, each one was unique, interesting and increased my knowledge of archival theory, methods and in particular, cultural archives. One thing that really stood out on this trip was that many of the collections had obtained the historical photographs, land documents, books, letters and objects from local families where younger generations had lost interest in the items and also from people who found others (innocently) attempting to throw items away at the local dump. Without someone taking note of their historical value and worth they would not help to keep these archives going and the important historical and genealogical information would not be available for future generations.

I am so grateful to the Graduate Student Organization (GSO) for the $300.00 grant enabling me to attend and also to the Association of Hawaii Archivists which has been so welcoming during my time as a student member.

Mahalo and please enjoy my photographs!