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Cultural and Historical Preservation

About the Cultural and Historical Preservation working group
Preliminary Themes, Goals, and Objectives from the
Small Group Meetings

These themes (recurring ideas) were derived from 130 small group meetings conducted across the Puna district.

Preliminary Themes (CTR –CH/KAI; PLAN - CC)
  1. Protect Historic Sites
  2. Practice Hawaiian Values
  3. Create and Sustain an Educational Program on Local Traditions
  4. Build a Hawaiian Cultural Center
  5. Identify and Preserve Historic Buildings
  6. Hawaiian (island) Themes & Style
  7. Protect Native Gathering Rights
Preliminary Goals

To respect, preserve, and protect historic sites and native gatherings rights
To encourage local styles (aesthetic themes)
To create a Puna Cultural Center

Preliminary Objectives

These objectives have been derived from themes generated from 3,394 ideas provided by broad citizen participation. The numbers in parentheses indicates which theme or themes were used to develop the objectives.

A. Ensure historic sites and buildings are protected (1,5,6)

B. Create a Hawaiian Cultural Center (3, 4)

C. Create and sustain educational program on local cultural traditions (3, 4)

D. Encourage Hawaiian (island) style buildings and design (7)

E. Create and maintain access to the ocean and thus protect native gathering rights (7)

Excerpts from Previous Plans

Considerable time, thought, and community-wide effort has been applied to the issue of cultural and historic preservation in Puna over the past decade or more, resulting in a number of plans that have made specific recommendations. Pertinent excerpts from those plans are below.

"The most significant historic feature known in Puna was the Waha’ula Heiau located in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It was the first laukini heiau (temple presided over by the high chief) to be built by the priest Pa’ao in 1275 A.D. and the last in use until its destruction in 1820 by Liholiho. The site was destroyed in 1997 by Kilauea lava flows.
There are currently 9 historical sites in Puna that are listed on the State and/or National Historic registers. However, there are numerous other sites throughout Puna that have been identified as having historic significance.
Puna’s coastal areas have relatively dense concentrations of historical, cultural, and burial sites. Historical sites are not uncommon on subdivision lots. Under lots, there are lava tubes, many of which have significant sites and burials. The presence of historic sites and the cultural integrity of the communities increase the potential for eco-tourism which can help support cultural appreciation and understanding."

The County of Hawai'i General Plan, adopted by ordinance in 2005, sets the land use and community development policy for the County of Hawai'i, and is intended to serve as a guide for state and federal government and private sector, as well.

"Course of Action:
Support the establishment of Hawaiian Heritage Corridors."

In 1995, the County of Hawai'i secured the services of a consultant to complete the Puna Community Development Plan. While it was not adopted, this document sets forth some specific recommendations for cultural and historic preservation:
  • Support efforts by the Historic Preservation Division to preserve and interpret several large landscapes with ruins of houses, fields, paths, and religious structure, at Kahuwai Village and a land section in Keauohana and other sites, working with landowners, the National Park Service, and with the Puna Hawaiian community, to result in a number of linked interpreted historic sites for limited access.
  • Support efforts by the Historic Preservation Division to identify, with the Puna Hawaiian community, sites that are of traditional cultural significance - burials, gathering places, and extremely sacred areas - to protect from public access and interpretation.
  • Support and collaborate with the State Department of Land and natural Resources, Historic Preservation Division to conduct comprehensive field surveys and continue to improve the inventory of historic sites in Puna that identify the distribution of known historic sites and help predict the relative likelihood of historic sites in the different parts of Puna.
  • Collaborate with subdivision associations to institute volunteer community historical survey boards to facilitate identification and protection of sites within subdivisions and to devise acceptable means to assist owners in protection of sites.
  • Restore traditional and historical place names. Kurtistown’s historic name is Ola’a. Ihope road was Ola’a Black Road. Other instances or replacement of Hawaiian names should be corrected.
  • New town centers created in the subdivisions should be given Hawaiian names associated with that particular part of Puna.
  • In Keaau, encourage research and documentation, and, if appropriate, application for historic district designation.
  • Where designated, historic districts should be recognized with signs at entrances to the area.
  • Encourage research and documentation, and where appropriate, historic designation of additional sites, including those along trails and old rights-of-way.
In addition to these County-sponsored plans, there is a community-initiated plan for Volcano that contains recommendations for cultural/historic preservation:
  • Protect and conserve out natural resources and natural beauty from undue exploitation, encroachment, and damage.
  • Develop methods to encourage the saving of the forest ecosystem including native trees and the native understory.
  • Preserve green spaces and wildlife corridors in future developments.
  • Encourage and streamline the process for he consolidation of lots. Discourage the subdivision of lots and ohana dwellings built on speculation.
  • Identify the major lava tube systems under the Volcano area and discourage the use of any of the tube system for disposing of wastewater including septic systems.
  • Educate property owners, renters, realtors, heavy equipment operators, business owners and others about alternatives to practices that may be destructive to the natural resources, beauty or environmental quality of the Volcano area.
  • Promote the prudent use of management of the Volcano area’s unique, fragile and significant environmental and natural resources.
  • Support the increase in tax incentives to protect natural resources and native ecosystems.
  • Support equal tax assessments for all agriculturally-zoned parcels whether they are cleared for farming or forested.
  • Discourage the subdivision of inappropriate commercial use of public lands.
  • Identify and protect exceptional native trees and/or plant and animal communities.
  • Develop programs, guided walks, and written materials to increase knowledge and appreciation of native ecosystems and features as well as threats to them such as mosquitoes, invading alien species, ect.
  • Reproduce “Building in Forest,” “Controlling Noxious Weeds,” and similar pamphlets on identifying and growing native plants, and disseminate to the community.
  • Inform lot owners about environmentally sensitive waste disposal systems that do not require large clearings.
  • Encourage partnerships among community stakeholders.
  • Develop community dialogue on issues that may affect Volcano’s unique environment.
  • Encourage cooperative land-use development and management to protect native ecosystems.

Have you, or someone you know,
noticed a lack of response
from Hawai’i County via email?

Emails from Hawai‘i County have recently been blocked by Google servers. This means that if you have a Gmail account or use Google as your email provider, such as, or a business Gmail account, our emails may not be getting through to you.

We recognize the inconvenience this may cause and have been working diligently to fix this problem. If you suspect you have not received an email from us, please contact the Planning Department via email or phone. If you can provide an alternate way for us to contact you, that would help us keep you informed.

Mahalo for your patience!

« January 2019 »
Upcoming Events
South Kohala CDP Action Committee Meeting Jan 28, 2019 05:00 PM - 07:00 PM — Waikoloa Village Association Community Room - 68-1792 Melia Street, Waikoloa Village, HI 96738
North Kohala CDP AC Meeting 01.28.2019 Jan 28, 2019 05:00 PM - 07:00 PM — Hisaoka Gym Conference Rm., 54-382 Kamehameha Park Road, Kapa‘au, HI 96755
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