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From the Executive Director: A Letter from Coila

hana maui hawaiiA Letter from Coila,

The Hana Cultural Center has made significant progress in completing the projects dear to our hearts over the past two years. When you helped us purchase the two lots for the Kauhale O Hana over ten years ago, we had no idea it would take a decade to complete the work. Yet, we are pleased to report that Phase II of the Kauhale, the building of the Canoe House Hale Wa'a is complete. The membership and supporters of the Hana Cultural Center and the community of Hana should be very proud of this accomplishment. It is a beautiful addition to the Center and our small community. It is used by many different organizations, groups and enjoyed by our many visitors, both from Hana and around the world. Please see the canoe wa`a webpage for the photographs of the building process and Canoe House blessing.

With all this focus on the completion of the Kauhale O Hana, many other areas of our museum and cultural center now need repairs and refurbishing. You have heard my concern over the historic Jail for several years, and I am pleased to report in this newsletter that refurbishing is underway. We have some Maui County support for this project, but we must again ask you, our devoted membership to help complete this project. The Cultural Center has a $20,000 loan for this refurbishing and we need your help to retire this loan.

Our driveway comes up from Uakea Road and our wooden entrance sign has been deteriorating from the ocean air for several years. Various pieces have rusted off and earlier this year the posts rotted making the sign unusable. After much discussion by the Trustees, it was decided to build the new sign from stone and use a jade green corian with engraved white lettering as the facing. We have assurances from the builders that this very handsome new sign will stand for many generations. We also plan to replace signs above the Hale Wai Wai and the Historic Courthouse and Jail as funding permits. Your help is also needed here.

Another area of concern is the electrical wiring and lighting in the museum building. Although the museum is only fourteen years old, the lighting fixtures have deteriorated significantly from the ocean air from Hana Bay which comes in our open double doors 360 days per year. Many fixtures are fused and the wiring has had several "emergencies" , including a meltdown of our main junction box and meter. While evaluating the wiring, the Trustees took the long view of also investigating the quality of display case lighting to protect our displays of old Hawaiian fibre. We found that the original lighting was excellent for minimizing UV damage and heat. And, in the past fourteen years much progress has been made in museum lighting. It was decided to upgrade our main display case with state of the art fibre optic lights as these do not produce UV and create no heat in the display cases. One reason for this decision was that many Hana artifacts are stored at Bishop Museum and in order to be able to display them here on loan, our lighting system must be top notch. After this electrical refurbishing, we will have one of the most up to date lighting system of any Hawaii museum.

Progress has also been made on another project described to the membership in last year's newsletter, that is the Digital Photo Display. We have been approved for staff funding by the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, and we have received a generous grant of $3000 from the Atherton Family Foundation for computer upgrades and scanning equipment. A few preliminary tests have been made and we hope that within two years anyone will be able to view any photo in our archives on a digital display. We still need approximately $5000 to purchase additional equipment for the display kiosk in the museum.

In 1989, the Historic Courthouse was refurbished with a new roof, a lot of wood replacement and general upgrading and painting. It is open daily for visitors and now is used monthly by judges from Wailuku. Much new work is needed on the courthouse. The wood that was not replaced in 1989 now needs replacement and the porch needs complete replacement as you can tell from the adjoining photographs. Because the Historic Courthouse is still being used by the State Judiciary, an interesting new challenge has occurred. In 1996, the State of Hawaii conducted inspections for architectural barriers of all its facilities to determine level of compliance with the "Americans with Disabilities Art" or ADA. Every facility in the state (actually the country) is required to remove all architectural barriers to full accessibility. This translates into handrails on all steps, new signs, a new designated parking place for wheelchair access and a ramp to allow wheelchair access to the courthouse. Actually, not just the courthouse, but all our museum facilities and the public rest-rooms. The public rest-rooms are part of the original prisoner compound and will require extensive modification to make it ADA compliant.

Fortunately both the County of Maui and the State of Hawaii have indicated that they may be able to financially support this phase of our capital improvements. The County of Maui has indicated that this project is eligible under their Community Development Block Grants program specifically designed for upgrading old structures. In the next year we will see how successful we are in giving the Courthouse, Jail, public rest-rooms and the museum itself the necessary modifications to make them all ADA compliant. It is an extensive building project and we feel up to the task.

The final area for major renovation is the Hana Art Barn. The Cultural Center has supported various Culture For Youth programs in Hana for many years and particularly in the area of developing the arts. In 1995, the Department of Parks and Recreation helped make the "Art Barn" available and after significant improvements to this dilapidated building, it has been used as an arts studio since early 1996. From a single art class each week we now have a schedule of up to 5 classes per week. We have had several dance performances and an excellent art show attended by over 200 persons. The drawback is that this building needs to be replaced. We have sustained three separate incidents of trees falling on the old building, each time doing significant damage. The roof leaks in about 6 places. It is a barn, and we still love it.

Because this building sits on a slope behind the old community center, it is not ADA compliant. When we investigated the possibility of adding the necessary ramps and railings, it became evident that it should be part of a total building replacement design. This was also discussed with the Community Development Block Grant program and they have suggested that we apply for the necessary replacement funds.

These are all significant projects for a small museum with limited staff and a very limited budget. Yet we feel they must be done to properly serve the community, our members and our many thousands of visitors.

We hope you will open your hearts to the importance of these projects and support them with generosity and enthusiasm while the Hana Cultural Center moves into the new millennium.