2014 Copyright ASCE Hawaii Section
December 2001: The Pukas in the Pali (Part 1)
By: C. S. Papacostas
The carriage-road over the Pali that was completed by Johnny Wilson and Lou Whitehouse in 1898 featured numerous sharp curves, most notably a 180-degree hairpin turn on the windward side and a sharp "S" curve at Morgan's Corner on the Honolulu side.
Hawai'i Looking Back: An Illustrated History of the Islands, published in 2000 by Glenn Grant, Bennett Hymer and the Bishop Museum Archives, quotes Jack London's 1917 description of a trip across the Pali: We coasted the intricate curves of the road that is railed and reinforced with masonry, fairly hanging to a stark wall for the best part of two miles.
By 1900, the road was macadamized, partly in response to the needs of the new arrival on the scene, the "flivver" (slang for "an inexpensive automobile").
That was the year when the Territory of Hawaii was established by a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress, an act that some contemporary proponents of Hawaiian sovereignty consider illegal.
Paragraph 56 of this Organic Act provided "[t]hat the legislature may create counties and town and city municipalities within the Territory of Hawaii and provide for the government thereof..."
Three political parties emerged for the first territorial election, the Republican, the Democratic and the Home Rule parties. On January 14, 1904, the Supreme Court declared a county act unconstitutional as claimed by a lawsuit filed by William R. Castle but upheld a new act in June 1905.
By this time the federal government was becoming increasingly involved in the nation's rural highway construction as well.
With three levels of governmental participation, Hawaii's roadbuilding era that followed became extremely complex, contentious and political. The first elected mayor of Honolulu in 1908 was democrat James Joseph ("Joe") Fern who appointed Johnny Wilson superintendent of roads. Wilson had served in the same capacity on Maui a year earlier. Among the improvements he pursued was the regular "oiling" of roads and improvements to the Pali Road.
In his Johnny Wilson:The First Hawaiian Democrat, Bob Krauss' says that Johnny became a victim of politics when, under pressure from the Republican Board of Supervisors (later City Council), Joe Fern failed to re-appoint him in 1911. However, given the nature of politics, Johnny managed to become mayor for the first time in 1920 and served in that position for 16 years between 1920 and 1954.
As Rick Stepien puts it in The Path of Progress Over the Pali:
By 1931, 2000 cars were using the Pali Road daily... Tens of thousands of dollars were spent widening narrow portions, straightening curves and installing concrete barriers... but the improvements could not keep pace with the ever increasing vehicular use...
The idea of a tunnel, says Stepien, was first proposed in 1937 but was abandoned as being too expensive, even with federal matching funds. It resurfaced in 1946 when Wilson was again elected mayor but he proposed an alternate route and tunnel through Kalihi valley instead; a bitter City vs. Territory battle commenced.
On September 6, 1950 Wilson filed for re-election stating, according to a story in next day's Star-Bulletin: I would like to contribute my engineering knowledge and experience to completion of plans for and, if possible, start of the project for the Kalihi tunnel.
With the help of California tunnel specialist Anatole Eriman, the first territorial Pali bore was opened in 1957 in the presence of thousands who, by Stepien's account, "created the worse traffic jam in Hawaii's history!" Thus, the popular song's "When they build the puka in the Pali" finally became a reality.
Following a complex sequence of events, both the Kalihi and Nu'uanu valley highways were completed in the 1960s. After the December 21, 1962 dedication of the Pali Highway, State Highway Division Chief engineer John C. Myatt's car was bumped as he was making a U-turn. According to Stepien, he quipped: We christened it the hard way. Instead of using a bottle of champagne we used my car door.
Johnny Wilson, for whom the tunnel on Likelike Highway was named, had passed away on July 2, 1956 at the age of 84.
November 2001: The Old Pali Road on Oahu (Continued from October 2001)
By: C. S. Papacostas
On his mother's side, John Henry Wilson's great grandparents were Henry Blanchard, the captain of the brig "Thaddeus" that brought the first New England missionaries to Hawaii in 1820, and Koloa, a Chiefess from Moloka'i.
His mother Eveline ("Kitty") was befriended by future Queen Lili'uokalani owing to their common love of song at Kawaiaha'o Church. Kitty's brother George Townsend became captain of the schooner "Emma" mainly plying the waters between Honolulu and Leeward O'ahu.
According to Bob Krauss' 1994 book Johnny Wilson: First Hawaiian Democrat, Johnny's paternal great grandfather was the Rev. Charles Wilson who reached Tahiti in 1801. His father, Charles Burnette (C.B.) Wilson, and his uncle Richard were brought to Hawaii by Captain Harry English in whose care the children were put by their mother, Chiefess Tataria.
According to Krauss, C.B. Wilson was briefly a classmate of future King Kalakaua and, because of his athletic prowess, got to rub shoulders with the "upper crust" of Hawaiian society who were fond of sports.
C.B. became a blacksmith and also joined the Volunteer Fire Department. In 1882 Kalakaua appointed him as "superintendent of the waterworks." In this capacity, he oversaw the building Honolulu's first hydroelectric power plan in Nu'uanu (1888). Two years earlier, he had attained the prestigious position of Fire Chief and in 1891, Queen Lili'uokalani appointed him to the Privy Council and Marshal of the Kingdom.
Born in 1871, Johnny Wilson became an enterprising young man with connections to all strata of Hawaiian society from royal houses to his father's shop at 26 Fort Street and the wharf.
Lili'uokalani's famous song Ku'u Pua I Paokalani was dedicated to him and she also listed him and his mother as members of her entourage on an 1861 trip to Maui.
Johnny attended the precursors of McKinley High School, the Fort Street School and then St. Alban's College in Pauoa Valley. On graduation day, he won a prize in mathematics.
At the age of 17 in 1889, he sailed to the West Coast and engaged in a series of odd jobs for half a year. Returning to Honolulu, he went to work as a stevedore but his adventurous spirit made him stow away on the whaler "Triton" that left for Alaska in 1890.
His father's powerful friend John D. Spreckels saw to it that he was sent back in December of that year and he ended up working as "brush cutter and chainman" for Mr. Kuegel, the civil engineer for Benjamin F. Dillingham's Oahu Railway & Land (OR&L) Company. That's when he decided to become a civil engineer and road builder.
With financial support from the Queen, he enrolled in the very first class when Stanford College opened its doors in 1891. Among his classmates was Herbert Hoover, the future U.S. President. At Stanford "Kanaka Jack," as he was nicknamed, also met Louis M. Whitehouse who enrolled in civil engineering a year later.
Lack of funds after the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, forced him to leave Stanford at the end of his junior year in the spring of 1894 and, along with his friend Whitehouse, became manager of the National Hawaiian Band that brought Hawaiian music to America. The band included several superb musicians who had been his boyhood friends.
Back in Honolulu in 1896, he joined OR&L and then worked under the Republic's Chief Engineer W.W. Bruner on a survey for a "carriage road" over the Pali for which $40,000 was allocated by the government.
Securing a bond from Benjamin Dillingham, he submitted the low bid of $37,500 for the road job and summoned Lou Whitehouse to help. According to Rick Sapien's The Path of Progress Over the Pali, two other bids for $67,500 and $81,000 were submitted by more experienced contractors who, per Krauss' description, were not as aware as route surveyor Wilson about the weathered conditions of the rocks along the alignment.
Ground was broken on May 26, 1897 and the road was opened for carriages on January 19, 1898.
To secure the needed labor force, according to Krauss' account, Wilson offered $15 per month ($5 more than the going rate for plantation work) plus bonuses.
Where the rock was sound, Wilson and Whitehouse resorted to blasting.
October 4, 1897 was one such occasion. A front page story in the The Pacific Commercial Advertiser entitled New Pali Road: Section of the Big Ridge Blown to Pieces, on the next day tells how.
More than 200 people including dignitaries, St. Louis College pupils, "strangers, malahinis and kamaainas were there and everyone pronounced the blast a success," although "this blast had closed the old road for ever -not for a month- as Minister King ordered."
Interestingly, while working on the Pali, the young and inexperienced Wilson and Whitehouse team underbid Walter Dillingham on a job to extend Benjamin Dillingham's railroad around Ka'ena Point.
The trick for the low bid was to lease a boat ("Iwa") to carry laborers, equipment and supplies to the site and freight on the way back. Johnny's uncle George Townsend piloted the boat.
The place where the first Japanese laborers landed for this job on October 14, 1897 is known to this day as "Yokohama Beach!"
The intriguing life of Johnny Wilson as road builder, entrepreneur extraordinaire, politician and mayor of Honolulu continued for almost 60 more years after building the then New (and now Old) Pali Road.
October 2001: Early Nu'uanu Pali Pathways
By: C. S. Papacostas
In his "Fragments of Hawaiian History," John Papa Ii describes his first climb down the Nu'uanu Pali when he was a boy:
The party continued, climbing to Nuuanu Pali, and then down. The boy was not actually led, but his father clung to his hand until they reached a safe place, away from the sheer drop of the cliff.
Not even that treacherous footpath was there 15 or 20 years earlier, in 1795, when Kamehameha pushed Kalanikupule's Oahu warriors to the precipice during the battle of Nu'uanu, forcing many of them to leap to their death.
By Samuel M. Kamakau's account in "Ruling Chiefs of Hawaii,"Keanini was the first to clear and widen the road and let in the light of the sun. He improved the road in order to draw lumber for building the Kawaiaha'o church. The logs were cut in Ko'olauloa, brought by canoe to Kane'ohe, and hauled over the Pali.
This happened around 1825 since the church was completed in 1829. Materials for its construction were also obtained from other places, including Wai'anae.
In an article entitled "The Path of Progress over the Pali" that first appeared in the November 1980 issue of the "Honolulu Magazine," Rick Sepien says that, during the 1830s and 1840s, missionaries constructed steps at the steepest portions of the 5-ft wide path that reached gradients as high as 50%.
A road suitable for horses was jointly financed in 1845 by the government and planters who wanted easy access to the fertile lands on the windward side of O'ahu. Kamehameha III and two of his retainers were the first to cross on horseback.
Sepien also says that Lili'uokalani composed "Aloha 'Oe" while riding her horse down the cliff. This may explain her inspiration for the song's opening line: "Ha'aheo ka ua i na pali" (Proudly by the rain of the cliff).
A $2,000 legislative appropriation in 1857 facilitated road improvements that allowed the passage of carriages. The Rev. E. Corwin and Dr. G. P. Judd were the first to descend in this manner on September 12, 1861.
Robert C. Schmitt ("Firsts and Almost Firsts in Hawaii") notes that it was two years later that the first wagon traveled in the opposite direction, climbing up from the windward side.
Visiting the site in 1872 (or 1873), Isabella L. Bird writes in her "Six months in the Sandwich Islands" that she saw
a frightfully steep and rough zig-zag path cut out of the face of the cliff on our right. I could not go down this on foot without a sense of insecurity, but mounted natives driving loaded horses descended with perfect impunity[to the place where Kalanikupule's warriors'] bones lie bleaching 800 feet below.
In 1896, W. W. Bruner, the chief highway engineer for the Republic of Hawaii was allotted $40,000 to stake and construct a safe alignment.
This is when part-Hawaiian Stanford University junior engineering student John H. Wilson and his fellow student Louis M. Whitehouse entered the picture.
(To be continued...)
September 2001: Honolulu's Street Layout
By: C. S. Papcostas
In my August 2001 article I described the transportation (and other) impacts that horses had on Hawaii.
Safety is a major concern that is always associated with transportation and the introduction of the horse-based transportation "technology" was no exception.
As Edward D. Beechert quotes in his 1991 book "Honolulu: Crossroads of the Pacific," back in 1838 Queen Kaahumanu II issued the following proclamation:
"Because of the lack of streets some people were almost killed by horseback riders and the rulers of the kingdom barely escaped in 1834... I shall widen the streets in our city and break up some new places to make five streets on the length of the land and six streets on the breadth of the land."
Some of these streets had their origins as earlier trails and footpaths as described by John Papa Ii in his "Fragments of Hawaiian History." Also, according to "Ruling Chiefs of Hawaii" by Ii's contemporary Samuel M. Kamakau, Boki (Governor of Oahu)
"Early in 1829 started work on a government road from the west gate of [his] Beretania place at Kahehune (the Royal School) to 'Auwaiolimu (where the Buddhist church stands on Punchbowl) and to the Pauoa stream..."
A map issued by Charles Wilkes in 1840 clearly shows the Queen's plan implemented on the ground.
The street layout in the area bounded by Beretania and Queen Streets from Punchbowl to Nu'uanu stream bears a remarkable similarity to today's alignments. King Street is shown to extend to the West across the stream, whereas Nu'uanu Avenue jots out to the North.
Ii describes Nu'uanu as one of the areas where Kamehameha I liked to engage in farming and recalls that "When Kamehameha went to Nuuanu, mounted on his horse, Kawaiolaloa, many of the children, including Ii followed him with great interest. They found innumerable people all over the farming area, from down below the present road [c. late 1860s] at Niuhelewai to the bend in the road where the houses of the Portuguese now stand."
Nu'uanu later became the place of notable Honolulu residences, including that of the prominent Chinese island merchant Chun Afong.
To the north of these houses lies the road to the Nu'uanu Pali, the story of which must wait its turn in an upcoming article in this series.
August 2001: History of Horses in Hawaii
By: C. S. Papacostas
I have made it a habit to attend the sessions of the graduate seminar offered by the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Hawaii during each academic year.
Six weeks ago, the featured speaker was ASCE-Hawaii past President James Kwong. His topic was "Risk Reduction for Microtunneling and Horizontal Directional Drilling," based on a recently completed sewer improvement project in the vicinity of the Honolulu harbor.
Having dispensed with the technical questions following James' presentation, I asked him whether the underground project encountered anything of historical significance. After all, the project area was at the heart of the old town where today's metropolis had its beginnings. For example, the first water supply pipe in Honolulu was started in 1847 and ran from a kalo field on Beretania Street to the wharf area at the foot of Nu'uanu Avenue.
It was in that general area that, according to James, drilling brought up many pieces of metal which, upon closer examination, turned out to be discarded horseshoes!
Horses, of course, played a major role in the development of Hawaii. They made overland travel easier, opened up relatively inaccessible areas, facilitated (with the help of vaqueros from Spanish California) the development in the 1830s of the cattle business and Hawaii's "paniolo" (from "espanol") tradition.
According to George S. Kanahele's account of "Waikiki: The Untold Story," it was the horse and improvements to the Waikiki Road that transformed Waikiki from a hamlet to a thriving residential and resort area during the time of the ali'i.
It was also the horse that made it convenient for early visitors to Hawaii (including Mark Twain) to visit the Nu'uanu Pali on Oahu, the Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island and numerous other "visitor destinations."
"Firsts and Almost Firsts in Hawaii" by long-term and now retired state statistician Robert C. Schmitt, indicates that horses were introduced to "Tooagah" Bay (?) and to Maui in 1803. They were brought over by Richard J. Cleveland aboard a merchant ship commanded by Captain William Shaler.
In his "Mo'olelo Hawaii," chronicler David Malo lists among the "imported animals from foreign lands ...[t]he horse (lio), a large animal. Men sit upon his back and ride; he has no horns on his head."
Kanahele states that horses were first called "wa'a holo honua" meaning "canoes that travel on land," but the common name for a horse is, as Malo indicates, lio.
The similarity between this name and 'ilio (dog) has puzzled etymologists over the years. The leading theory, according to "Hawaiian Grammar" by Samuel H. Elbert and Mary Kawena Pukui, is that 'ilio and its variants may have served as a generic term for quadrupeds. They cite usage of "lio hulu" (hairy quadruped) and "lio weuweu" (fuzzy quadruped) for sheep, "lio nui" (large quadruped) for horse, and "'ilio hohono" (smelly quadruped) for skunk.
Another famous Hawaiian historian, John Papa Ii, recalled in his "Fragments of Hawaiian History" his first encounter with a horse when he was 8 or 9 years old around 1809 and wondered with his father how many fancy tobacco pipes it would take to trade for one. He finally resigned himself to constructing a toy horse out of a banana stalk.
Describing events that happened around 1825, Samuel M. Kamakau in his "Ruling Chiefs of Hawaii" says:
"A great deal of property was taken, among other things horses and cattle, which had become numerous on Kauai because the foreigners had given many such to Ka-umu-ali'i. On Oahu there were only few which had been brought by John Young and Kamehameha from Kauai in 1809; afterward more were brought in by Don Marin." Parenthetically, Captain George Vancouver first brought cattle to Hawaii at Kealakekua Bay in 1793.
At any rate, the horse became an every-day necessity and spurred a new industry. An 1860 photograph by Henry L. Chase pointing mauka from the corner of unpaved Fort and Hotel Streets shows the artist's studio (HALE PAI KII or House of Photography) on the makai-ewa corner. Two establishments on the ewa side of Fort Street follow displaying signs that say HORSES LET and KELLY'S STABLES/HORSES LET. Across the street, although obscured by a post, another sign clearly advertises SADDLES.
Horses also became a great means of recreation for Hawaiian natives of both genders. Schmitt mentions, for example, that horse racing became a rage "in open areas or along public roads" and "racing was common along Wilder Avenue." Eventually (in 1877) formal horse racing was moved to a one-mile oval course in newly opened Kapi'olani Park.
In her 1873 collection of letters, "Six Months in the Sandwich Islands," Isabella L. Bird begins her Hawaiian adventure by describing 200 saddled horses standing on the wharf, near the place where James Kwong discovered the discarded horseshoes I suppose, and continues:
"[T]hese belong to the natives, who are passionately fond of riding. Every now and then a flower-wreathed Hawaiian woman, in her full, radiant garment, sprang on one of those animals astride, and dashed along the road at full gallop, sitting on her horse as square and easy as a hussar." Proper manners of those times prevented women from riding astride. This is evident in Kamakau's illustration that chiefess Kapi'olani, having adopted missionary customs, "when she rode on horseback... she used only the sidesaddle."
Upon returning from a visit to the Nu'uanu Pali on her first day in Hawaii, Isabella Bird observes:
"Saturday afternoon is a gala-day here, and the broad road [Nuuanu] was so thronged with brilliant equestrians that I thought we should be ridden over by the reckless rout. There were hundreds of native horsemen and horsewomen... The women seemed perfectly at home in their gay, brass-bossed, high peaked saddles, flying along astride, bare-footed, with their orange and scarlet riding dresses streaming on each side beyond their horse's tails." (The sight must have made a similar impression on Mark Twain who described female riders as "sweeping by like the wind.")
Isabella Bird continues into town:
"In the shady, tortuous streets we met hundreds more of native riders, dashing at full gallop without fear of the police."
And later in her book,
"Except for short shopping distances in Honolulu, I have never seen a native man or woman walking. They think walking a degradation, and I have seen men take the trouble to mount horses to go 100 yards."
Along the same line, Kanahele quotes Una Hunt Drage, a turn of the century visitor to Waikiki:
"The natives... are always on horseback, sometimes father, mother and two children, crowded, arms around waists, on the same horse..."
Not much different from the present-day use of the "horseless" carriage, the "insolent chariot," the private car!
April 2001: Water Rights in Hawaii
By: C. S. Papacostas
Etymology, the study of the derivation and structure of words, has always fascinated me.
For example, the word "river" comes from the Latin "ripa," the bank of a waterway.
From "propious" (meaning "one's own") we get "to appropriate," that is, to make one's own or to assign exclusively to a specific entity or use, and also "property," one's own thing, idea or attribute.
But what does all this have to do with rights in Hawaii, the recent subject of my articles in this series?
It so happens that the common law of England was the basis of law in the American colonies. One common-law principle was the "riparian" doctrine that gave riparians (that is, landowners along a ripa) the right to reasonable use of the water, provided that no one was injured thereby.
An alternate approach developed in some western states. Before being modified and refined, this doctrine of "prior appropriation" has been described as "first in time, first in right."
In its original form, section 1-1 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes took effect on January 1, 1893. It now reads:
The common law of England, as ascertained by English and American decisions, is declared to be the common law of the State of Hawaii in all cases, except as otherwise expressly provided by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or by the laws of the State, or fixed by Hawaiian judicial precedent, or established by Hawaiian usage...
Regarding water rights, court decisions based on ancient Hawaiian practices connected with kalo (taro) cultivation play a much stronger role than either common-law riparianism or strictly construed prior appropriation.
In a major 1973 water rights appeal case (55 Haw. 260, 517 P.2d 26), Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Levinson asserted that
Whenever it has appeared that [land] was, immediately prior to the grant of an award by the land commission, enjoying the use of water for the cultivation of taro or for garden purposes or for domestic purposes, that land has been held to have had appurtenant to it the right to use the quantity of water which it had been customarily using at the time named.
Lands that have this water right attached to them are known as taro lands; those that don't are kula (dry) lands.
The aforementioned land commission is the Board of Commissioners to Quiet Land Titles that was appointed in 1845 to settle issues of land ownership.
By the way, "appurtenant" is derived from the Latin "tenere," meaning "to hold." The word "tenure," as in "land tenure" or "academic tenure," has the same origin.
Common laws typically prescribe ownership rights that can be obtained through "actual, open, notorious, continuous and hostile use" for a statutorily specified period of limitations. These rights are known as "prescriptive" rights.
Engineers know that water recirculates within the hydrologic cycle. Their study of contaminant transport and ecosystem dynamics further illustrates the integrated nature of this cycle.
By contrast, the early legal system's views of water (and the rights associated with it) were based in part on old precedents that were formulated under a limited understanding of these physical processes.
For example, in an 1895 case (1895 WL 3145 (Hawai'i Rep.)), the Hawaii Supreme Court declared that sound policy requires that the water should be put to some use rather than be allowed to run to waste and that it is better to take as much of it as can be profitably used than to let it run to waste into the sea.
Legally, the normal flow of a stream or river was presumed to consist of appurtenant and prescriptive flows and normal surplus flow, but to exclude storm and freshet flows. Of course, difficulties would arise whenever claims to appurtenant and prescriptive water exceeded the normal flow, that is, that portion of the total flow that did not constitute storm and freshet flows. Shortage sharing is typically apportioned by what are known as "correlative rights," the rights of competing users as they relate to each other's.
Beginning in 1860, the settlement of water disputes in Hawaii was assigned to the Commission of Private Ways and Water Rights. In the midst of controversies relating to water use for sugar cane cultivation, this body was abolished in 1907 and its functions were transferred to the circuit court.
In 1978 came Article XI, section 7, an addition to the State constitution:
The State has an obligation to protect, control and regulate the use of Hawaii's water resources for the benefit of its people.
The legislature shall provide for a water resources agency which, as provided by law, shall set overall water conservation, quality and use policies; define beneficial and reasonable uses; protect ground and surface water resources, watersheds and natural stream environments; establish criteria for water use priorities while assuring appurtenant rights and existing correlative and riparian uses and establish procedures for regulating all uses of Hawaii's water resources.
In 1987, the milestone State Water Code established the Commission on Water Resource Management and its authorities and responsibilities.
This law flatly declares that "the waters of the State are held for the benefit of the citizens of the State." Thus the State asserted sovereign water rights and the concept of public trust.
The Code requires the maintenance of the Hawaii Water Plan assuring beneficial use for domestic, agricultural and other purposes but also providing for the protection of traditional and customary Hawaiian rights, ecological balance, instream uses, aesthetics and water quality, all based on scientific investigations and research.
Moreover, the comprehensive Code prohibits the acquisition of water right, title or interest by prescription and (with the exception of appurtenant rights) requires permitting for then existing and for new uses.
March 2001: Rights of the Tenants
By: C. S. Papacostas
In my recent chain of articles on matters relating to evolving land issues in Hawaii, I made reference to legal language meant to protect the "rights of the tenants."
But, specifically, what are these rights?
A paper entitled The Lum Court and Native Hawaiian Rights by Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie that appeared in the University of Hawaii Law Review (Summer, 1992) points us to the right track.
For example, in the 1982 Hawaii Supreme Court Kalipi Case (66 Haw. 1, 656 P.2d 745), Kalipi, the Plaintiff, cited the Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) to support his claim to traditional rights. HRS 7-1, that has its origins in a law initially passed in 1851, currently states that:
Where the landlords have obtained, or may hereafter obtain, allodial titles to their lands, the people on each of their lands shall not be deprived of the right to take firewood, housetimber, aho cord, thatch, or ki leaf, from the land on which they live, for their own private use, but they shall not have a right to take such articles to sell for profit. The people shall also have a right to drinking water, and running water, and the right of way. The springs of water, running water, and roads shall be free to all, on all lands granted in fee simple; provided, that this shall not be applicable to wells and water-courses, which individuals have made for their own use.
Additional rights are reflected in Article VII, Section 7 of the state constitution that was proposed by the State Constitutional Convention and approved by the voters in 1978:
The State reaffirms and shall protect all rights, customarily and traditionally exercised for subsistence, cultural and religious purposes and possessed by ahupua'a tenants who are descendants of native Hawaiians who inhabited the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1778, subject to the right of the State to regulate such rights.
Several cases make reference to the enumerated "gathering rights," to cultural and religious rights, as well as to rights related to water and right of way. The latter are, of course, intimately related to the history of civil engineering in Hawaii.
January 2001: Ceded Lands Inventory
By: C. S. Papacostas
According to the December 7, 2000 issue of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the state auditor's office has awarded a contract to RM Towill Corp. to estimate the likely cost of a full inventory of ceded lands.
The inventory will include surveying and mapping, the subjects of several of my recent articles.
As I mentioned last month, ceded lands are derived from the Crown and (Hawaiian Kingdom) Government lands so designated by Kamehameha III in the Buke Mahele.
The Provisional Government following the 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom assumed ownership of unsold or not otherwise disposed lands that remained in these categories.
As acknowledged in the 1993 U.S. Congress Apology Resolution (U.S. Law 103-150), 1.8 million acres were subsequently ceded to the United States, without compensation, by the self-declared Republic of Hawaii under the Newlands Joint Resolution of Annexation that was signed by President McKinley on July 7, 1898.
With the exception of lands set aside for federal purposes, management of most public lands was transferred to the Territory of Hawaii via the Organic Act of 1900.
In 1920, the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act designated about 200,000 acres as "available lands" for the "rehabilitation of native Hawaiians on land."
An estimated 1.4 million acres of public lands were conveyed to the State of Hawaii via the Statehood Admission Act of 1959.
Added in 1978, Section 4 of Article XII of the Hawaii constitution provides that [t]he lands granted to the State of Hawaii by Section 5(b) of the Admission Act ..., excluding therefrom lands defined as "available lands" by Section 203 of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920, as amended, shall be held by the State as a public trust for native Hawaiians and the general public.
Imprecise old surveys and complicated historical land transactions make the identification, surveying and mapping of ceded lands a herculean task.