Monday, June 13, 2011

Census data gleaned from ancient farm walls

By Jim Borg, Honolulu Star Advertiser

WAIMEA, Hawaii » A study of a network of ancient earthen berms or windbreaks in North Kohala has led scientists to conclude that the population of the area quadrupled as farming intensified between 1400 and 1700.

The walls were built to protect crops, mostly sweet potatoes, from the strong prevailing trades, says Julie Field, an assistant professor of anthropology at Ohio State University in Columbus.

Field and colleagues from California and New Zealand studied ancient farmlands and abodes in five ahupuaa (land divisions) in what they call the Leeward Kohala Field System.

Their findings suggest that practical decisions made by individual households were eventually adopted by the alii (chiefs) as a means to improve agricultural productivity.

"Archaeologically this kind of research is really hard to do in most places since there is rarely a ‘signature' for the agricultural activity or a strong connection between the remains of a house and a plot of farmland," says Field. "Our study is unique in that we can trace the activities of very, very small groups of people and, from that, try to glean the larger processes of society."

IN North Kohala the signature consists of stone or earthen berms or walls that run parallel to each other along the slope contours. Their archaeological importance was first noted in 1970.

Most likely the system was put in place by individual households that produced crops for their own consumption, Field said.

"It was then appropriated by the chiefs and turned into more of a surplus production system, where they demanded that the land be put into production and more people would produce more surplus food," she said.

The windward valleys of the Kohala peninsula were settled about A.D. 1100 to 1200, and the leeward coast about 1200 to 1400, the researchers estimate.

Forty-eight radiocarbon dates from 43 residential features indicate an "exponential increase" in the number of households over the next few centuries, says the research paper, published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. As the field system grew, more berms were built to subdivide the acreage, the scientists found.

"Within a 300-year period, 1400 A.D. to 1700 A.D., the data suggests that the population at least quadrupled, as did the number of houses," Field said. She had no estimate for the pre-1778 population.

From 2007 to 2009 the scientists mapped and excavated a range of residential features within two zones of the field system. Larger abodes were identified by terraces with sturdy stone walls on the upslope sides of the berms, which served as windbreaks and anchored more fragile thatched roofs, they report.

The researchers said that the next question is whether the field system was modified seasonally.

"That's what it looks like happened, but we need more dating of different features at the sites to be able to figure that out," Field said.

State Initiates Changes to Hawaii Historic Preservation Division to Meet Federal Compliance

June 8, 2011, HONOLULU– The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) took action to improve operations at its State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) and ensure federal compliance. The Department awarded a contract to Solutions Pacific, LLC to implement recommendations of the National Park Service’s Corrective Action Plan.
In March 2010, the National Park Service (NPS) issued the NPS Report on Hawaii State Historic Preservation Division Operations, determining that the Hawaii State Historic Preservation Division did not comply with several provisions of its federal grant and deemed it a “high risk grantee.” The NPS identified significant operational problems in several non-discretionary federally-mandated activities. Loss of its status would have significant and devastating impacts on both heritage protection and timely processing of federal actions in Hawaii.
“The State Historic Preservation Division has a critical mission for the State of Hawaii,” said DLNR Chairperson, William J. Aila, Jr., “One of the first tasks starting as Chairperson was to assess the Division’s progress in meeting mandatory requirements of the National Park Service’s corrective action plan.”
“We found that with limited staffing together with a multitude of tasks to complete that we wouldn’t be able to meet the timeline alone. The Department determined it is in the State’s best interest to contract a consultant to meet the NPS timeline.”
Solutions Pacific, LLC and its blue ribbon team of experts will focus on compliance issues. The team will provide great insight in revising operational procedures to meet federal requirements and help develop an evaluation and retention plan for SHPD staff.
“The Team members have a deep interest in historic preservation honed over many years of experience in the field. We all believe that a well functioning SHPD office is important to everyone who touches the land in Hawaii, whether as stewards, managers, developers or preservationists. We look forward to working with the DLNR management and with the National Park Service to enable SHPD’s efficient performance,” said Mr. Ray Soon, principal of Solutions Pacific, LLC.
Mr. Soon brings nine years of experience as a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and twelve years of experience with DHHL, four of those as the Director of the Department. In addition, the team of sub-contractors include a national award winning architectural firm, Fung Associates, Inc., and Cultural Survey’s Hawaii who has expertise in archaeological, cultural and historical research, and has completed thousands of studies on all the major Hawaiian islands over 29 years.
Additionally the principals at each firm include individuals with past working experience at SHPD such as Ms. Tonia Moy and Dr. Don Hibbard from Fung Associates, Inc. Ms. Moy formerly served as Architecture Branch Chief on SHPD’s staff and continues to work closely with Historic Hawaii Foundation, and SHPD. Dr. Hibbard, worked in the State Historic Preservation Office from 1978- 2002, and served as its Administrator for twenty of those years.
Cultural Survey’s Hawaii is led by its president and founder, Hal Hammatt, Ph.D. Dr. Hammatt has extensive experience with planning and historic preservation regulation compliance, having been active in the field of archeology and historic preservation for over 40 years. He is joined by Christopher Monahan, Ph.D., a former Lead Archaeologist for SHPD and has over 20 years of research experience in anthropology and archaeology, including more than seven years of experience in Hawaii.
“We are fortunate that Solutions Pacific can focus on critical components, such as staff recruitment, which has been an area we have had difficulty,” said SHPD Administrator, Pua Aiu.
“Working with Solutions Pacific, LLC provides the Department the chance to collaborate with a team of highly qualified professionals,” said DLNR Deputy, Guy H. Kaulukukui, Ph.D., “We are encouraged by their willingness to help resolve our compliance issues, and are grateful for the opportunity to benefit from their combined experiences in the field of historic preservation.”
The award is based on responses to a Request for Proposals issued in April 2011 for implementation of select portions of the National Park Service’s March 2010 Corrective Action Plan. This contract is specifically for the portions of the Corrective Action Plan relating to the National Historic Register procedures, Inventories and Surveys, and the Review and Compliance procedures for National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 compliance and Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 6E compliance. The contract also calls for assisting with a recruitment and retention plan, and providing guidance and senior leadership mentoring to the SHPD administrator.
The NPS report, Hawaii State Historic Preservation Division Operations, March 2010, includes the Corrective Action Plan and timeline. This report is posted on the SHPD website at

Monday, June 6, 2011


The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) has released a set of guidelines designed to assist federal agencies in their efforts to fulfill the requirements of Executive Order 13514 (2009), which mandates the establishment of an "integrated strategy towards sustainability in the Federal Government." The Order also requires that the "rehabilitation of federally owned historic buildings utilizes best practices and technologies in retrofitting to promote long-term viability of the buildings."

The guidance was developed with the support of the President's Council in Environmental Quality (CEQ), and via a work group that included representatives from the ACHP, the Department of Defense, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the General Services Administration.

The primary objective of the document is to help bridge the twin goals of achieving energy efficiency while preserving our existing federal building stock. Chapters on Integrated Planning and Design, Reusing Historic Buildings, Reinvesting in Historic Districts and Property Disposition are among the highlights.


The National Park Service’s Technical Preservation Services has issued Guidelines on Sustainability stress the inherent sustainability of historic buildings and offer specific guidance on “recommended” rehabilitation treatments and “not recommended” treatments, which could negatively impact a building’s historic character. Illustrations of both types of treatments are included. The Guidelines are designed to assist building owners in planning rehabilitation projects that will meet the Standards for Rehabilitation.

The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation & Illustrated Guidelines on Sustainability for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings are available at

These are the first set of official guidelines on how to make changes to improve energy efficiency and preserve the character of historic buildings. The Guidelines are an important addition to current discussions about sustainability and achieving greater energy efficiency, which have focused primarily on new buildings to date.

Technical Preservation Services is the nation's leading provider of information and guidance on the care of historic buildings. Technical Preservation Services provides the tools and information necessary to take effective measures to protect and preserve historic buildings, ranging from historic masonry and window repairs to lead paint abatement to accessibility for people with disabilities.