Report Title:

Native Hawaiian Architecture; Building Codes



Directs each county to adopt a Native Hawaiian building code.



H.B. NO.



















     SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that Native Hawaiian architecture is unlike any localized styles seen in Hawaii today.  Although present styles may appear to replicate forms that existed prior to Western contact in 1778, the present styles lack the spiritual and metaphysical identity that made the traditional, indigenous, pre-contact architecture uniquely Native Hawaiian.

     Depending on the specific function of the hale (house/structure), each part of traditional architecture had little to do with the builder and more to do with the hale's relationship to the natural world.  The hale enabled humans to responsibly and sustainably manipulate nature into useful form to serve as a vessel for the akua (gods) to partake.  Beyond the basic need of shelter, traditional Native Hawaiian architecture served as a means to connect akua, nature, and humans.  Over thousands of years, master builders who had already proven their acumen by constructing the wa‘a (canoe), developed simple, efficient, and perfectly suitable architecture for Hawai‘i Nei.  Beyond the hale, brilliant dry-stack engineering techniques were perfected, allowing the Native Hawaiians to construct small- to large-scale heiau that still survive today.

     The basic needs of life are water, food, and shelter.  Unfortunately, each of these basic needs has been compromised for Native Hawaiians in their own home land.  Legal battles over water rights, which in turn directly impact kalo production, have severely depleted a staple and healthy food source for Native Hawaiians.  Land tenure, economics, and socio-political change have cornered many Native Hawaiians into living in distinct areas throughout Hawai‘i, with increasing numbers left houseless.  Heiau continue to face constant defamation and destruction.  The basic components that could enable Native Hawaiians to reclaim their livelihood and identity have been stripped and over time, the knowledge that they once had has been lost.

     Zoning and building ordinances, rules, and standards greatly hamper the ability of Native Hawaiians to reconnect to a major facet of their heritage and basic need.  Native Hawaiian architecture is not unlike the pyramids of Egypt, the temples at Machu Picchu, or the prefectures in Japan.  They all share as tangible and spiritual manifestations of an indigenous people and their connection to their unique cosmology.  Historically, building codes were never intended to integrate or adopt traditional Native Hawaiian architecture and as a result have had the potential of questioning the quality, sincerity, and intent of Hawaii's indigenous architecture.

     Act 310, Session Laws of Hawaii 2006, sought to allow the use of the techniques, styles, and customs of indigenous Hawaiian architecture to be employed in present-day construction in the State.  Act 310 began by pointing out that section 7 of article XII of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii provides, in part, that "The State reaffirms and shall protect all rights, customarily and traditionally exercised for subsistence, cultural and religious purposes by . . . native Hawaiians".  Act 310 also pointed out that the Maui County Code allows the use of indigenous Hawaiian architecture in the design and construction of structures in the county of Maui.  The Act inserted a new section into the Hawaii Revised Statutes (codified as section 46-1.55) that required each county to adopt ordinances allowing the exercise of indigenous Native Hawaiian architectural practices, styles, customs, techniques, and materials in the county's building code.  Act 310 also permitted the application of indigenous Hawaiian architecture in all zoning districts, if consistent with the intent and purpose of the uniquely designated, special, or historic district.  Act 222, Session Laws of Hawaii 2007, amended section 46-1.55, Hawaii Revised Statutes, to require that each county adopt or amend its ordinances to implement these requirements no later than March 31, 2008, with the Maui County ordinance serving as a model.

     Despite the good intentions of Act 310 and Act 222, the legislature finds that section 46-1.55, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is too limited.  While it recognizes traditional Hawaiian architecture, it has not promoted or produced a full revival of this architecture as a viable way of life.  For example, while section 46-1.55 cites wood frame walls covered by thatches of native grasses as an example of Native Hawaiian architecture, section 46-1.55 does not resolve the obstacles presented by county building and zoning codes that may prevent a full and uninhibited use of native grasses in the hale.  Furthermore, section 46-1.55 places unnecessarily strict limits on where Native Hawaiian structures can be located.  The limited and constricting nature of section 46-1.55 has led to a "showcase" approach to Native Hawaiian architecture, rather than to an architecture that fosters a restored traditional, economical, efficient, and simple life style that meets the spiritual and material needs and interests of Native Hawaiians and reduces the number of Native Hawaiians who are houseless.

     It has become increasingly apparent that only the establishment of a Native Hawaiian building code and a loosening of limits on where indigenous structures can be located, can truly revive Native Hawaiian architecture.  The purpose of this Act is to facilitate this revival through amendments to section 46-1.55, Hawaii Revised Statutes.

SECTION 2.  Section 46-1.55, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

     "§46-1.55  Indigenous Hawaiian architecture.  (a)  Each county shall adopt [ordinances allowing] a native Hawaiian building code, separate from its standard building code, that protects and promotes the exercise of indigenous native Hawaiian architectural practices, styles, customs, techniques, and materials historically employed by native Hawaiians, [in the county's building code,] including but not limited to residential and other structures comprised of either rock wall or wood frame walls covered by thatches of different native grasses or other natural material for roofs.

     (b)  The application of indigenous Hawaiian architecture shall be permitted in all zoning districts[; provided it is consistent with the intent and purpose of the uniquely designated, special, or historic district].

     (c)  Each county shall adopt or amend its ordinances to implement this section no later than March 31, [2008.  The ordinance adopted by Maui county shall serve as a model.] 2010."

     SECTION 3.  Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken.  New statutory material is underscored.

     SECTION 4.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval.






By Request