Collections from Hawaii National Parks

National Park Service, Centennial One Object Exhibit

In celebration of the National Park Service Centennial in 2016, this exhibit showcases one object from every national park museum collection in Hawaii. We invite you to explore museum collections from Haleakala National Park, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kalaupapa National Historical Park, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Pu'ukonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, and Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Site.

The Hawaiian demigod Maui is famous for his many legendary feats of strength and bravery. His most famous achievement is believed to have taken place at Haleakala, “House of the Sun.”� Our Native Hawaiian community is familiar with the oral history of a place called Kalapawili, “to lasso or snare the sun.” It is here that Maui had battled the sun (La) after snaring its rays to slow its path. The result of the battle between Maui and La was a compromise which became the two seasons of Hawai'i. Ho'oilo (the wet season) came to belong to the sun and Kau (the dry season) came to belong to Maui. As stated in the oral traditions, this compromise made Hawaii livable for its native people by lengthening the day so that Maui's mother Hina could dry her kapa (a cloth made from plant bark).

This figure is a representation honoring Maui and his achievements. Native Hawaiians will always have a connection spiritually, culturally, and historically to Haleakala, reflected in the stewardship and interpretation of natural and cultural resources here in the national park.
This Maui figure was created by Sam Ka'ai, an artist, noted scholar, and teacher of Hawaiian traditional cultural practices throughout the Pacific. The figure is considered both an ethnographic object and a work of art.

Haleakala National Park, HALE 177

This view of Kilauea Volcano was painted by D. Howard Hitchcock (1861-1943), one of the most notable and loved artists from Hawaii. Hitchcock left Hawaii for formal art training in San Francisco and abroad, but returned to follow the “Volcano School”� group of artists who painted the eruptions and landscape of Kilauea. This painting was displayed in 1966 at the Smithsonian Institution, as part of the exhibition: American Landscape, A Changing Frontier.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HAVO 452

This utensil represents an assistive technology used by a patient afflicted with Hansen's Disease, a chronic bacterial infection commonly referred to as leprosy. Upon infection and left untreated, the bacteria M. leprae damages an individual's skin, nerves, hands, feet, and eyes. Due to repeated secondary infections as a result of nerve damage to hands and feet, the afflicted often experience loss of tissue and shortening and absorption of bone, resulting in permanent deformation. As an extension of the hand, this common and simple spoon, soldered with a metal hoop, provided independence in the daily life of a patient who had lost all ability to feel, hold, and grasp after the loss of all fingers.

Kalaupapa National Historical Park, KALA 3789

Leho He‘e– The octopus lure of the early Hawaiians used a wide variety of stone sinkers. Hawaiian historian David Malo lists 24 names for the stones used as sinkers which were attached to a cowrie shell like this. The hook of the lure was fastened to a short stick sandwiched between the cowrie shell and a shaped-stone sinker, and the color of the cowrie shell played a role in the lure’s success. Fisherman lowered these lures from canoes when they spotted an octopus hole or in deeper water the lures were lowered and bounced along the bottom to attract an octopus.

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park, KAHO 109

Basalt adzes such as this one were highly valued implements used to harvest the materials necessary to build Hawaiian houses, canoes, and carve idols of religious significance.

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park, PUHO 251

In the summer of 1791 the Pu'ukoholā Heiau (temple) was finished. Kamehameha invited his cousin and chief rival for Hawai’i Island Keōua Kūahu'ula to the dedication ceremonies. Perhaps awed by the power of the heiau and its god, perhaps resigned to the ascendancy of his cousin, Keōua Kūahu'ula came willingly to what would be his doom. When he arrived there was a scuffle that occurred on the beach and, whether Kamehameha intended it or not, Keōua and almost all of his companions were slain. The body of Keōua was carried to the heiau and offered as the principal sacrifice to Kū (family war god). The death of Keōua Kūahu'ula ended all opposition on Hawai'i Island and the prophecy began to come true. By 1810, through conquest and treaties, Kamehameha the Great, builder of Pu'ukoholā Heiau was the revered king of all the Hawaiian Islands.This curatorial object was selected to represent this park unit as it accurately reflects the key historic figures, period dress, historic landscape, and cultural representation of this “wahi pana” (sacred site) during the parks’ commemorative period (1791-1835 a.d.). This rendering, so masterfully produced by renown local artist Herb Kawainui Kane in 1976, depicts this major historic event when Chief Keōua Kūahu'ula arrived to Kawaihae and Pu'ukoholā Heiau in 1791. Events that immediately transpired on this fateful day paved the way for Kamehameha the Great’s ascendancy to power and greatness, and ultimately to his successful unification of the Hawaiian islands and its people some nineteen years later when the Kingdom of Hawai’i was established in 1810.

Pu`ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site, PUHE 2

Credits: Story

Park museum staff from: Haleakala National Park, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kalaupapa National Historical Park, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Pu'ukonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, and Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Site.

National Park Service, Museum Management Program Staff: Amber Dumler, Stephen Damm, Ron Wilson, and Joan Bacharach

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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