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Home Class Act Explore Honouliuli’s history in new online exhibit

Explore Honouliuli’s history in new online exhibit


A screenshot of the homepage of the Honouliuli 'Āina Ho’ohuli online exhibit. Image courtesy of Honouliuli ʻĀina Hoʻohuli

Discover the history of the Honouliuli ahupuaʻa — one of many of Hawaiʻi’s land and water divisions, and where the University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu is located — in a recently launched online exhibit created in part by UH West Oʻahu students.

The multi-media exhibit, Honouliuli ‘Āina Ho’ohuli, was the major deliverable of a research project funded by the National Park Service in which UH West Oʻahu’s Dr. Christy Mello, associate professor of Applied Cultural Anthropology, worked with her students, local cultural practitioners, and other experts to create.

“I’m proud of the students’ commitment to this project, willingness to be challenged, and creativity,” Mello said.

Among those students was Destyni Grace, who was in Mello’s ANTH/CM 404 Museum Exhibits and Visual Methods course last semester.

“Our theme is to examine the historical uses of the Honouliuli ahupuaʻa from pre-contact through today, paying specific attention to land and water use,” Grace said.

Throughout the exhibit, visitors will discover historical maps, a story map project, a news clip video, research documents, artwork, newspaper excerpts, and photographs in order to visualize the ahupuaʻa of Honouliuli as a changing landscape over the course of time, Mello said.

To demonstrate changes, the exhibit highlights the mo’olelo (stories) of several wahi pana (legendary or sacred places) and how the plantation industry and military have impacted the landscape and people there.

In regards to the military, the Honouliuli internment camp and work of Dr. William R. Belcher are featured on the site, Mello added. Emphasizing social justice through the lōkahi (harmony and balance) component of the exhibit, the project draws attention to the work of groups engaging in social justice through restoration of the ‘āina (land) and place based education.

According to the website, the exhibit is based upon 2020 to 2021 research and 2016 to 2019 student field school opportunities funded by the National Park Service. The 2020 to 2021 research, overseen by Mello, builds upon and involves data from Belcher’s 2016 to 2019 research and field school at the Honouliuli National Historic Site, where the WWII Honouliuli internment camp was located.

The exhibit design team, which consisted of UH West O’ahu ANTH/CM 404 students, shared a message on the website: “Our class hopes viewers will immerse themselves in the knowledge that Honouliuli has to offer as it applies to our lives today. … We hope you enjoy your online exhibit experience and find it as memorable as we have!”

For more information about Honouliuli ‘Āina Ho’ohuli, email