Jun 202017

UH Hilo researchers are using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) off the side of Stainback Road, one of the epicenters of the Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death infection.

Still from Video

Click on image for video. UH Hilo geography professor Ryan Perroy explains his part in the research at 2:50.

Researchers at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo are part of large collaborative effort to combat Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death, a fungal disease threatening to kill off the most important tree in Hawai‘i Island’s ecosystem.

With 75,000 acres of the island’s ʻōhiʻa forest now showing symptoms of the disease, federal and state agencies and non-profit partners are using an array of high technology to detect its spread.

Ryan Perroy, aloha shirt, glasses, smiling at camera.

Ryan Perroy

UH Hilo’s team of researchers is headed by Ryan Perroy, assistant professor of geography in the Department of Geography and Environmental Science. The team of researchers is using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) off the side of Stainback Road, one of the epicenters of the infection. The team spends about 25 percent of their time flying UAV for Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death mapping and detection.

The home base for the team is UH Hilo’s Spatial Data Analysis and Visualization Laboratory.

Perroy says the UAV has been in use in the battle against Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death for about a year and a half.

“It’s very good for monitoring changes in the forest on an individual tree basis, because the resolution of the imagery is so fine that you can see individual leaves and branches,” Perroy explains.

That allows researchers not only to see changes over areas already infected by the fungus, but to detect suspected new cases. As valuable as the UAV imagery is, Perroy says it’s very difficult to fly over ʻōhiʻa forests every month and see the rapidity of tree decline.

“It’s not the best day when we come back and we see more and more trees down since the last time we flew,” he says. “Our efforts are one piece of the larger effort to better understand the disease and better protect our forests.”

All of the researchers and managers working to combat Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death agree that their collaborative efforts are about the only silver lining to what is a serious threat to Hawai‘i’s most important native tree. Ōhiʻa protect the state’s watersheds by providing a sponge-effect to allow rainwater to slowly seep into underground aquifers.  They also help prevent erosion and the spread of invasive species and they are very culturally significant and prized in lei making.

Read the full media release from the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources  to learn more about the many collaborative agencies working on the Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death project.

Also see article in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

May 232017

Grady Weyenberg, PhD, an alum of Waiakeawaena, Waiakea Intermediate and Waiakea High School, returns to the island after gaining cutting edge skills that he will now teach to local students.


Grady Weyenberg

A new data science program is being created at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo and its first faculty hire—a statistical researcher fresh from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom—grew up on Hawaiʻi Island.

Grady Weyenberg will start his new position on Aug. 1 and is the first of four tenure-track assistant professors UH Hilo will hire in mathematics, computer science and the natural and social sciences by late 2019 to create the new program. While teaching courses and mentoring students, the new hires will work with existing faculty to develop a data science certificate program, followed by a baccalaureate degree.

Weyenberg was born on Maui, but came to Hilo at an early age and attended Waiakeawaena, Waiakea Intermediate and Waiakea High School before relocating to Arizona for his final two years of high school. He received his bachelor of science in mathematics and bachelor of science in physics from the University of Arizona-Tucson, and his master of science in statistics and doctor of philosophy in statistics from the University of Kentucky-Lexington.

He’ll be arriving at UH Hilo fresh from his current work as a research assistant in the Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. He previously taught various statistics courses and held related research appointments at the University of Kentucky.

Weyenberg has co-authored several studies on statistical methods for analyzing the evolutionary relationships between organisms, which were published in Bioinformatics and Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics. His research projects in Bristol include studies of the genetic diversity and structure of the British Isles and Europe.

ʻIke Wai

The new data science program is funded through UH Hilo’s participation in the $20 million ʻIke Wai project awarded to the state last year by the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), a statewide initiative funded by the National Science Foundation.

The ‘Ike Wai project will provide data and models that address the grand challenge of water sustainability. A diverse workforce of data scientists and water researchers will work in concert with the community, government and business to inform decision makers with high-quality data and predictive capacity. The project incorporates indigenous and local communities, and its robust, inclusive and diverse human capital pipeline of undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs and junior faculty will address water challenges at the academic and policy level.

UH Hilo students enrolled in the new data science program will analyze data sets generated by the ʻIke Wai project’s five-year study to create a data-driven, sustainable water future for the state of Hawaiʻi and its Pacific neighbors and those from previous EPSCoR-funded projects. Students will hone their data analysis skills by supporting the university’s active research faculty whose projects generate large amounts of data.


Media release

May 192017

The recipients are two graduate students and two undergraduates pursuing degrees at UH Hilo.

Nicole Garcia, Heather Ah Cook, and Katherine S. Post.

UUAW 2017 scholarship winners (l-r) Nicole Garcia (Heritage Management), Heather Ah Cook (PharmD), and Katherine Post (PharmD). Not pictured: Jamae Valdez Balagot (Biology). Courtesy photo AAUW, click to enlarge.

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) Hilo Branch announced it has granted scholarships to four outstanding women attending the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. The AAUW, an organization that empowers girls and women on multiple fronts from education and advocacy to leadership and legislation, annually awards $4,000 in scholarships to UH Hilo graduate and undergraduate students.

This year’s recipients:

Heather Ah Cook

Heather Ah Cook is a graduate student in the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program. Her graduation from the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy is expected in May 2020. Cook is interested in the health field because of her family history—her great grandmother was a “kahuna” (expert) and made several herbal medicines to help the Native Hawaiian community. She wants to use the knowledge and discipline given by her elders to help her community.

Nicole Garcia

Nicole Garcia is a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Heritage Management program (Department of Anthropology). Garcia quotes in her personal statement, “To me, anthropology is the path to understanding how humans have learned from and contributed to the condition of the world today and how they (we) will frame the future.” Her special interest is the history of the paniolos (cowboys) and the north coast of Hāmākua.

Katherine Post

Katherine Post is a graduate student in the PharmD program. Her graduation from the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy is expected in May 2018.  Ever since she was young, Post wanted to have a career in the medical field. She wants to be a pharmacist who works with patients to heal and recover. She herself has faced a shocking diagnosis and her journey has helped her gain empathy toward others. She is an active member in her cancer support group, Malama Ka Pili Pa‘a, which currently does a lot in the Hilo community.

Jamae Valdez Balagot

Jamae Valdez Balagot is an undergraduate student majoring in Biology with a specialization in molecular and cellular biology. When she came to Hawai‘i she didn’t know a word of English. She feels very blessed because she had the opportunity to come to Hawai‘i and experience a whole new life and have a better education system compared to the school in her hometown back in the Philippines. She aspires to be a pediatrician.

Group standing together.

THe AAUW Scholarship Committee stands with the scholarship recipients at a luncheon held in their honor in early May, Hilo Yacht Club. Courtesy photo AAUW.


Brooke Hansen

May 182017

Chancellor’s Scholars maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.25 and participate in leadership activities and community service.

Thirteen students from Hawaiʻi’s public and private high schools have been awarded the prestigious Chancellor’s Scholarship by the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.

The 2017-2018 recipients and their respective high schools include:

  • Hailey Briseno, Hawaiʻi Preparatory Academy
  • Kekamamakoaakaʻilihou Caceres, Kamehameha–Kapālama
  • Scott Dakofsky, Roosevelt High School
  • Ariana Dolan, Pearl City High School
  • Skyla Elder, Honokaʻa High School
  • Kaitlyn Evans, Kamehameha–Maui
  • Preslyn Kaanaana, Kamehameha–Kapālama
  • Polina Kozinskiy, Laupahoehoe PCS
  • Sophia Smith, Hawaiʻi Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Jaron Sugimoto, Waipahu High School
  • Naneaikealau Thomas, Kamehameha–Hawaiʻi
  • Vanessa Watkins, Waiakea High School
  • Kamamaluwaiwai Wichimai, Kamehameha–Hawaiʻi

The award, valued in excess of $28,000, covers four years of tuition for students graduating from a Hawaiʻi high school who earned either a grade point average of at least 3.5, a combined 1800 SAT (reading, writing, math) or a composite score of 27 on the ACT while demonstrating leadership and/or community service.

Chancellor’s Scholars are required to enroll as full-time students and earn a minimum of 24 credits each academic year. They must also maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.25 and participate in leadership activities and/or community service with other Chancellor’s Scholars.


Media release

May 172017

A milestone this commencement: The university celebrates the first candidates from the new Master of Arts in Heritage Management program.

A milestone took place at the 2017 Spring Commencement at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo: the university graduated its first candidates for a master of arts in heritage management.

The program’s first graduates are among candidates who petitioned for degrees and/or certificates from the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management (28); College of Arts and Sciences (591); College of Business and Economics (52); College of Pharmacy (153); and Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language (40); and for various post-graduate honors (25).

President Tommy Esang Remengesau, Jr, of the Republic of Palau delivered the keynote address. Karla Kapo‘aiola Ahn, a performing arts major, was student speaker.

Ceremonies were held on Saturday, May 13, 2017 at Edith Kanaka‘ole Stadium.

Photos by Bob Douglas, click to enlarge.



Graduate waves to family and friends in the stands as she files in.

Candidate waves to family and friends in the stands as she enters the venue to take her seat.


Opening, Faculty Awards, and Speakers

Alexander Nagurney, instructor of psychology, is this year’s recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Alexander Nagurney, instructor of psychology, is this year’s recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.


Conferring of Baccalaureate Degrees

Candidate with degree cover

Big smiles all around as students commence their new life with degree in hand.


Mortarboard Communications


Hooding Ceremonies

Candidate receives hood for graduate degree.

Prof. of Anthropology Peter Mills (right) bestows candidate with hood for master of arts in heritage management. This commencement marked the first cohort to graduate from the new UH Hilo program.


Closing of Ceremonies


Graduates with Friends and Family



About the photographer: Bob Douglas is a local artist, photographer, and sometimes part-time student who volunteers his photography skills to the Office of the Chancellor and UH Hilo Stories. 

-UH Hilo Stories

May 112017

The new spectrometer is the only one in the region and substantially increases research and student training the UH Hilo Analytical Laboratory can support in and out of state.

By Susan Enright.


(Left to right) Technician Erik Johnson, Lab Manager Tara Holitzki and Prof. of Marine Science Tracy Wiegner stand next to the new Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer, UH Hilo Analytical Labratory. Courtesy photos, click to enlarge.

The Analytical Laboratory at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is a hub for research and training on Hawai‘i Island. The lab’s primary focus is supporting ecological research and water quality studies by providing analytical services to researchers in the UH System and federal and state agencies. The lab also provides analytical services for visiting researchers from other universities.

It is the only facility on Hawai‘i Island that trains students to use analytical instrumentation for environmental sample analysis.

Tracy Wiegner

Tracy Wiegner

The Analytical Laboratory is managed by Tara Holitzki under the direction of Tracy Wiegner, a professor of marine science who specializes in coastal water quality.

A new Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer

Last year, the lab was awarded a grant of over half-a-million dollars from the National Science Foundation for the purchase and support of a new Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer.

“We are now just completing its installation and the training of our staff on it,” says Wiegner.

The award is granted through the NSF’s Major Research Instrumentation Program, which, according to the NSF website, supports “research-intensive learning environments that promote the development of a diverse workforce and next generation instrumentation, as well as facilitates academic and private sector partnerships.”

Collaborators on the grant include researchers from UH Hilo, UH Mānoa, the USDA Forest Service, Stanford University, Utah State University, and Edith Cowen University Western Australia.

UH Hilo’s Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer is the only one of its kind in the state and region. It is capable of analyzing both solids and liquids including soils, plant and animal tissues, and water.

Specifically, the new spectrometer can analyze solid samples (soil, plant and animal tissue, carbonates) for stable isotopes of carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen. Liquid samples (water catchment, shore water) can be analyzed for stable nitrogen and oxygen isotopes in nitrate, hydrogen and oxygen isotopes in water, and stable carbon isotopes in dissolved organic carbon and carbon dioxide.

Students in lab

(L-R) Sione Lam Yuen and Bryan Tonga, two UH Hilo marine science majors working as laboratory assistants funded by the HELP (Highly Engaged Learning Positions) program through the Pacific Islander Student Center, prepare samples for analysis on the new Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer.

Wiegner says applications of stable isotopes in environmental science have grown exponentially in the last 20 years allowing for a greater understanding of biogeochemical cycles in natural and human-influenced ecosystems, food web structure and dynamics, animal migrations, paleoclimate, hydrology, as well as the ability to identify pollution sources and track them.

“This instrument allows for a new suite of elements in different forms to be analyzed, substantially increasing the types of studies and student training the UH Hilo Analytical Laboratory can support in and out of state,” Wiegner explains.

The UH Hilo Analytical Lab

Wiegner says the awarding of the grant speaks to the growing success of the lab facility. The laboratory was established in 2003 with NSF funding through the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research or EPSCoR, a statewide program initiated at UH Hilo to increase research and training infrastructure.

“This lab facility is hands down the greatest NSF EPSCoR success story at UH Hilo,” says Wiegner.

The lab has a statewide and international reputation for high quality and rapid services. There is an established, loyal clientele, which includes faculty and researchers from UH Hilo and UH Mānoa, as well as other state, national, and international institutions and agencies.

Clients use the laboratory’s services for research projects and hands-on student training, and often have their collaborators submit samples to the facility.

Erik Johnson stands next to the spectrometer.

Erik Johnson, an analytical laboratory technician with bachelor and master degrees from UH Hilo, will be leading the effort to get the new Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer up and running and developing new services for laboratory clients.

A good example of the lab’s current impact on the local community and economy is as a resource for agriculturalists.  Bruce Mathews, a soil scientist and dean of the UH Hilo College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Management, says the lab is increasingly being relied upon by local farmers.

“Local farmers require rapid turnaround times in order to remain competitive with respect to timely diagnosis of crop and livestock nutrition problems, optimizing management of inputs, and meeting environmental and safety regulations,” Mathews explains. “I fully expect this trend to continue.”

The facility also provides support to over 20 different undergraduate and graduate courses at UH Hilo, and provides outreach service to community members with inquiries about environmental health such as with agricultural soils and catchment water.

The lab includes analytical chemistry instrumentation for environmental samples (for example water, soil, plant, animal tissue) totaling over $1.5 million. Since its establishment, the lab is increasingly successful with over 125 clients, primarily university and government collaborators.

Bryan Tonga in lab

Student Bryan Tonga weighs out samples for analysis on the Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer.

“Revenue the lab earns is critical for growing the lab’s capacity to serve the larger scientific community while contributing to the education of our students,” says Don Straney, chancellor at UH Hilo.

Training scientists for the future

Wiegner says the Analytical Laboratory is integral to UH Hilo’s mission to inspire learning, discovery, and creativity inside and outside the classroom, and to improve the quality of life in Hawai‘i, the Pacific region, and the world.

“The expanded analyses capacity supported by the NSF grant will engage even more underrepresented students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics or STEM disciplines, exposing them to cutting-edge technology and allowing them to gain practical and employable research experience,” she says.


About the authors: Susan Enright is a public information specialist in the Office of the Chancellor. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo. Tracy Wiegner contributed significantly to this report.

-UH Hilo Stories.

May 102017

Researchers have developed a portable “lab-in-a-suitcase” for diagnostic field testing for the two species of fungal pathogens that infect ʻōhiʻa.

Rapid ʻōhiʻa death was first identified in the lower Puna district of Hawaiʻi Island in 2014, and now infects more than 50,000 acres of private and state forest lands on the island. Photo from CTAHR.

Researchers have developed a new, more efficient tool for detecting the pathogens believed to be the cause of rapid ʻōhiʻa death, according to a recently published study by the Hawaiʻi Cooperative Studies Unit at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, the USGS Pacific Islands Ecosystem Research Center, and USDA Agriculture Research Service.

The authors of the report (A rapid diagnostics test and mobile “Lab-in-a-Suitcase” platform for detecting Ceratocystis spp. responsible for rapid ʻōhiʻa death) have developed a portable lab for diagnostic field testing for the two species of fungal pathogens that infect ʻōhiʻa (Metrosideros polymorpha). The portable lab, which provides quick results and reduces instrumentation costs, is currently being used by the Big Island Invasive Species Committee to detect infected trees and identify the distribution of the pathogens.

“Having this portable lab gives us the capability to do our own diagnostics and get a quicker answer about whether or not a tree is positive for rapid ʻōhiʻa death,” says Bill Buckley, forest response coordinator for the invasive species committee and leader of their Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Early Detection and Rapid Response Team. “The result then allows us to take management actions right away or do more targeted testing.”

The Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture is also planning to use the portable lab to help screen shipments of ʻōhiʻa logs for the pathogens.

Rapid ʻōhiʻa death was first identified in the lower Puna district of Hawaiʻi Island in 2014, and now infects more than 50,000 acres of private and state forest lands on the island. The disease is a serious threat and imperils long-term sustainability of watersheds managed by Department of Interior agencies, the State of Hawaiʻi, and Hawaiʻi Watershed Partnerships.


Media release

May 012017

The researchers are investigating climate driven shifts in Staphylococcus aureus and MRSA—a type of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to many antibiotics—for water resource and land management solutions.

By Anne Rivera.
This story is the fifth and final of a series on climate change research at UH Hilo.

Community outreach and sharing information with the public and government agencies is the ultimate goal of climate research at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

Louise Economy

Louise Economy

Graduate student Louise Economy, with the Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science (TCBES) program, along with faculty advisor and Professor of Marine Science Tracy Wiegner, have taken on a project over the last year that focuses on pathogens in coastal waters such as staph (Staphylococcus aureus) and MRSA (Methicillin-resistant S. aureus) that increase the risk of infection to beach goers. MRSA is the most common form of staph infection in the world.

The project is entitled “Investigating climate driven shifts in Staphylococcus aureus and MRSA for water resource and land management solutions.” Partners in the project are Ayron Strauch, a hydrologist with the Department of Land and Natural Resources, and Chad Shibuya, a registered nurse at Hilo Medical Center. Funding for the research is from the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center at UH Hilo.  The center is a partnership between U.S. Geological Survey and a university consortium that includes UH Mānoa (the consortium lead) and University of Guam, in addition to UH Hilo.

Economy is not only focusing on creating a better understanding of the pathogens in the ocean environment and then communicating that information to the public, but also is developing a predictive model of staph and MRSA with rainfall. The predictive model will be able to assess the risk of staph and MRSA with changing climate patterns.

Mikala Jones, UH Hilo undergraduate, and Jazmine Panelo, a recent UH Hilo graduate and current research technician, are providing support on Economy’s project as well as conducting their own projects.

While Economy is concentrating on climate change and working with different governmental departments to develop the predictive model that would inform water users of the health risks under different weather conditions, Jones’s project is more about public perception and opinion of staph and MRSA,  She conducted an epidemiological study on Staph and MRSA in water-user communities, focusing on four major beach areas that include Honoli’i, Hilo Bay Front, Richardson’s, and Puhi Bay. She analyzed how the infections have affected the lives of community members and whether or not they feel it is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Producing outreach material for the public about staph and MRSA is on the agenda for the research team.

The research team

Economy was born in California but moved to Hilo when she was eight. She attended UH Hilo’s marine science and biology programs for her undergraduate studies and is currently expected to graduate from the TCBES program this December. The water quality project idea developed when she was working with on her senior thesis for her bachelor of science—with Wiegner as her senior thesis advisor—and is carrying on the research into her graduate program.

Wiegner, who’s been at UH Hilo for 14 years, has expertise in water quality and focuses on nutrients in organic matter. She received her doctor of philosophy in oceanography from Rutgers. In the last eight years her focus has shifted to microbial water quality. She says her favorite part about her job is being an advisor.

“I really enjoy working with students one on one, not just teaching them the skills but becoming collaborators and strategizing how to get the information we’re looking for,” she says. “My greatest joy is seeing them go on to be successful.”

Jones is a senior at UH Hilo originally from Seattle, WA, and is a candidate to graduate this month.

Helping communities understand health risks

Economy and Jones’s research projects are community oriented. The final goal is to use the scientific data they collect to better educate the public in regard to health risks associated with water use. This information will allow the public to make educated decisions about what health risks they are comfortable taking when going into the water.

Wiegner says to accomplish this, first the researchers need to understand the environmental pattern of the pathogens, focusing on near shore water where people do recreational activities. Then the public needs to be educated about the risks.

Jones says she expected more pushback from the community when conducting her interviews and surveys because “most people associate pathogen and risk with limitation, avoidance or restriction, but that was not the most immediate feedback.”

To Jones’s surprise, the community members were happy to talk about it, learn, and gain more information. Overall, there was positive feedback from the community.

Training scientists for the future

Economy says the education she gained in the marine science undergraduate program’s “hands-on” curriculum has helped her in the graduate program.

“It is a challenge working with different people to explain research and collaborate with them in a way that benefits all parties,” she explains. “It is interesting and transdisciplinary, which helps me to make my research more applicable to more people.”

Wiegner admits there are certain aspects of science that simply cannot be learned in a classroom.

“Being able to train students to think critically, troubleshoot, plan and manage projects, lead groups, and become professionals where they can publish reports and manuscripts and give public presentations to lots of different types of audiences is the goal,” she says.

She explains that student success in whatever aspect of science they want to get into is most important.

“We train students to come up with ideas, propose questions, develop a project to answer those questions, execute that project and then share the results with the public and other scientists,” she says. “(That) is how we do science.”

Jones says being able to take what she learned in her textbook and classrooms and dive into a problem that affects people living here in the community has been an awesome experience.

Economy says being prepared for the expected and unexpected along with always having to think creatively to reach solutions has been one of the most valuable skills she has taken away from this research project.

The future

Working with faculty advisors help students at UH Hilo apply their classroom learning to the professional world, preparing them for their future careers. Leadership and communication skills are further developed through these projects.

After graduation, Economy is hoping to get a job with the Hawai‘i Department of Health, another government agency, or a nonprofit devoted to water shed conservation.

Jones is planning on pursuing her doctorate next fall and hoping to work as a research technician during her transition from undergraduate to graduate studies.


About the author of this story: Anne Rivera (junior, communication) is a public information intern in the Office of the Chancellor.

-UH Hilo Stories


Also in this series:

Climate change research at UH Hilo: Fishpond management and restoration

Apr 212017

The Historic Hawaiʻi Foundation’s awards are Hawaii’s highest recognition of preservation, rehabilitation, restoration and interpretation of the state’s architectural, archaeological and cultural heritage.

The Historic Hawaiʻi Foundation will honor the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Office of Maunakea Management (OMKM) for its outstanding preservation efforts of Maunakea with a 2017 Preservation Commendation Award at the upcoming 43rd Annual Preservation Honor Award Ceremony on May 19.

Person doing fieldwork.

Fieldwork on Maunakea.

The foundation’s awards are Hawaii’s highest recognition of preservation, rehabilitation, restoration and interpretation of the state’s architectural, archaeological and cultural heritage. The Preservation Commendation will be presented to OMKM, the Maunakea Management Board, Kahu Kū Mauna—a council comprised of Hawaiian cultural resource persons who serve as advisors—and Pacific Consulting Services, Inc., for the preservation efforts related to the Long-Term Historic Property Monitoring Plan for UH Managed Lands on Maunakea.

“The preparation of this plan and implementation of regular, annual monitoring without a statutory requirement demonstrates the Office of Maunakea Management’s commitment to stewardship and best practices in cultural resource understanding, protection and preservation,” says Historic Hawaiʻi Foundation Executive Director Kiersten Faulkner. “We congratulate you on your exemplary preservation efforts.”

“The Office of Maunakea Management together with the Maunakea Management Board, Kahu Kū Mauna and Pacific Consulting Services created a model we believe would enhance our stewardship of the lands we manage,” says OMKM Director Stephanie Nagata. “We are honored and humbled by this recognition.”

A multiple upright shrine (kūahu) in the Maunakea Science Reserve.

A multiple upright shrine (kūahu) in the Maunakea Science Reserve.

Maunakea, a culturally significant mountain to Native Hawaiians, is rich in properties protected by Hawaiʻi State law. The summit and surrounding areas contain sites that archaeologically and architecturally merit inclusion as protected historical properties. These sites include shrines, burials, three traditional cultural properties—Puʻulilinoe, Kūkahauʻula (cluster of cinder cones) and Lake Waiau—and the stone cabins at Halepōhaku.

Since its inception in 2000, OMKM has been responsible for the day-to-day management of more than 11,000 acres of University of Hawaiʻi managed lands, including the Mauna Kea Science Reserve, with oversight by the Maunakea Management Board and Kahu Kū Mauna.

Long-Term Historic Property Monitoring Plan for UH Managed Lands on Maunakea

The 2017 Preservation Commendation is awarded for the Long-Term Historic Property Monitoring Plan, developed and implemented to systematically monitor the condition of more than 200 significant historic properties located within the lands on Maunakea managed by the University of Hawaiʻi.

The Long-Term Historic Property Monitoring Plan includes guidelines for monitoring the condition of significant properties to help identify any alteration patterns and steps for maintaining and updating the catalog of historic properties. An initial evaluation of each historic property was done to determine management needs. Following four years of extensive inventory field work and analysis of more than 11,000 acres, approximately 260 sites were classified for monitoring in three categories: yearly, every three years and every five years. Historic properties monitored yearly are the sites most exposed to possible disturbances and are therefore monitored most frequently.

A key initiative of the Office of Maunakea Management is the protection and preservation of the historic resources found within UH-managed lands, including the Mauna Kea Science Reserve, the summit access road corridor and the mid-level facilities at Halepōhaku. The plan assists with monitoring implementation, establishes assessment parameters and in consultation with State Historic Preservation Division, and develops measures to mitigate possible adverse impacts to preserve and protect historic properties for future generations.

The Office of Maunakea Management was also a recent recipient of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce’s Pualu Environmental Award. The 2016 Environmental Awareness Award recognized organizations that exhibit sensitivity and concern for the environment through innovative environmental practice.


UH System News

Apr 212017

In a collaborative project between UH Hilo and UH Mānoa, the NSF funds will create Kaniʻāina, a digital corpus of recordings and transcripts of Native Hawaiian language.

Keiki Kawaiʻaeʻa

Keiki Kawaiʻaeʻa

A University of Hawaiʻi project to build a digital online repository of spoken Hawaiian language, or ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi received grants from the National Science Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities. The grants total $448,464 over a three-year period.

The project, “Building a Hawaiian Spoken Language Repository,” will create Kaniʻāina, a digital corpus of recordings and transcripts of Native Hawaiian language. Kaniʻāina will feature hundreds of hours of audio and video recordings, fully searchable transcripts in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, catalog information in both English and ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi and a unique crowd-sourcing feature for soliciting enhanced transcription and content-tagging of the recordings from the public.

Larry Kimura

Larry Kimura

The grants will be managed by principal investigator Keiki Kawaiʻaeʻa, director of the UH Hilo Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language, along with co-principal investigators UH Hilo Associate Professor Larry Kimura and UH Mānoa Associate Professor Andrea Berez-Kroeker.

Hawaiian spoken language repository

The recordings and transcripts will be accessible online at Ulukau: The Hawaiian Electronic Library, beginning with phase 1 of the first two collections—Ka Leo Hawaiʻi and Kū i ka Mānaleo—later this year. The content will be archived for long-term preservation in Kaipuleohone, the University of Hawaiʻi Digital Language Archive, which is part of ScholarSpace, the UH institutional repository.

Berez Kroeker

Berez Kroeker

The awards also include funding for undergraduate research opportunities and a cross-campus graduate educational exchange in language documentation and revitalization.

“We are elated that we can now move toward building a larger public repository of audio and visual native speaker collections to support the growing population of Hawaiian speakers,” Kawaiʻaeʻa said. “Kaniʻāina comes at a crucial time when the number of Hawaiian speakers is increasing as the last of the native speaking elders is rapidly dwindling. We now estimate the number of elder native speakers outside of the Niʻihau community to total between 20 and 30.”

The broader impacts of Kaniʻāina will include its integration into immersion-based language education from pre-school to the university level, Hawaiian knowledge in the natural and social sciences, and beyond. The project will also engage underrepresented groups as citizen scientists through its creation of a publicly available corpus of an endangered U.S. language.

For more information, read the UH Hilo news release.


-via UH System News.