Within the past month vandals have desecrated two historic Hawaiian sites — the summer palace of King Kamehameha III and Queen Kalama in Nuuanu — and the mile-long walls beneath the fence surrounding Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources is seeking witnesses or anyone who has knowledge of vandalism to any historical or cultural site in Hawaii to call the statewide DOCARE Hotline at 643-DLNR.
Dan Dennison, spokesman for the Department of Land and Natural Resources, said the vandalism at Kaniakapupu in the watershed area of Nuuanu was discovered within the past two weeks.
Etched into the moss-covered walls of the crumbling interior of the building was a series of crosses.
Dennison said the Nuuanu site is not checked regularly by state officials.
Within the past month, vandals also etched marks on the walls underneath the newly restored fence surrounding Iolani Palace.
Land Board Chairwoman Suzanne Case said, in a written statement: “It’s hard to understand how anyone thinks it is okay or pono to draw or etch graffiti on any of Hawaii’s historical or cultural treasures. They need to understand that their actions not only potentially destroy the cultural integrity of these sites and structures, but also show tremendous disrespect toward our host culture and to the countless volunteers and staff who work hard to preserve these places for future generations.”
Baron Ching, vice chairman for the volunteers from Aha Hui Malama O Kaniakapupu, which works to protect Kaniakapupu, said the structure was the first government building built in western style with mortar and plaster with a grass roof. It was erected in 1835.
Ching, in the land board’s news release, said: “Leave it alone. Don’t scratch it, don’t do anything to it, come with respect. Criminy sakes, I don’t know where you’re coming from, but this is not a graffiti palette to do your thing. This is important to a lot of people. This is important to the Hawaiian nation, yea. It’s just utter disrespect, utter disrespect. How does it make me feel? It makes me feel awful.”
He added, “Come with respect. There is history going back to the beginning of time in this area. Modern Hawaii was forged in this place … inside these walls every single monarch, every single high chief or chiefess were inside these walls … and it’s entirely inappropriate to put graffiti on the walls, to move the stones around. It’s entirely inappropriate to be climbing around this place.”
“It’s not the first time they’ve carved all kinds of stuff in there. They’re carving happy faces, all kinds of stupid stuff. This plaster is 180 years old; was put here by the hands of the kupuna. It was the first government building built by the government of Hawaii. When you vandalize it or damage it in anyway, there’s no way we can repair that.”
In May, the state completed a yearlong, $1.5 million project to renovate and repair the more than a century-old ironwork fence and plastered wall that bounds the four sides of the Iolani Palace grounds.
Gates at the ground’s multiple entrances were also included in the renovation project, as were the ironwork fence and brick wall enclosing the Royal Tomb Site on the palace grounds.
The renovation work involved stripping all rust and paint from the more than half-mile-long fence and gates and incrementally removing them to an off-site location where the individual segments received a hot-dip galvanizing treatment and repainting that should protect them more thoroughly and for much longer, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources reported.