Hālau of ʻŌiwi Art will be dedicated to the study, practice, celebration and perpetuation of hula and various ‘ōiwi arts connected to hula. The center will be in support of the Huamakahikina Declaration, ratified by an international coalition of Kumu Hula and adopted by resolution by the Maui County Council this fall. It will be the first of its kind and the largest investment by any county or the state to establish a permanent place for hula and associated ʻōiwi arts.
Hālau of ʻŌiwi Art, will help to advance the culture of the Hawaiian people through education, classes, workshops, exhibits, activities and events centered around hula. It is a collaboration between diverse groups of Maui hālau hula, representing the breadth of Maui’s Hula Lineages, with the support of the County of Maui. We encourage you to learn about this exciting project, below are the latest updates.
Read the latest news about the Hālau of ʻŌiwi Art project
Since May 2022, the County of Maui and a dedicated group of Kumu Hula have been reaching out and gathering input from the community on the possibilities and potential for Maui’s first Hawaiian cultural center dedicated to hula and associated ʻōiwi arts. Here’s some of the feedback we’ve received.
“Our goal for the Hālau of ʻŌiwi Art is to create a center of international significance that will advance the cultural, social, and historical impact of Native Hawaiian ‘Ōiwi art. Through these efforts, our islands’ hālau hula hope to empower all people in Hawai‘i and the world, to keep these traditions alive for future generations.”
The Hālau of ʻŌiwi Art will be dedicated to and inspired by the study, practice, celebration and perpetuation of Hula and the varied ʻŌiwi arts for which Hula serves as the nexus. Hālau of ʻŌiwi Art is a collaborative effort between diverse groups of Maui hālau hula representing the breadth of Hula Lineages with the support of the County of Maui. It will be a Hawaiian cultural center for our community and the world, advancing the culture of the Hawaiian people through education, classes, workshops, exhibits, activities and events, serving as the first of its kind and the largest investment by any county or the state to create a permanent place for Hula and the associated arts.
Prior to Christianization and modernization, the makaʻāinana (common people) of heavily populated areas routinely buried their relatives on family parcels instead of transporting the deceased to centralized locations as is now done with modern-day cemeteries. Even though the project site is historically attested in Māhele documents as taro land, there is a possibility that unmarked burials could be discovered upon the subject parcel. Therefore, the Department and partnering Kumu Hula are anticipating an approach that is as proactive and as cautious as possible. This includes:
In 2022, the County Council approved $43 Million in CIP bond funds for the HOA project. Senator Brian Schatz delivered an $11 million gift to support construction of the facility to be dedicated to the study, practice, celebration and perpetuation of Hula and associated arts and as a resilience hub for shelter and recovery in the event of a disaster.
The Hālau of ʻŌiwi Art project is being built in phases. The project site was originally proposed to house the Wailuku Civic Complex and the new four-level parking garage.
The Wailuku Civic Complex included the incorporation of county office spaces, a public market and an event facility. While the planning, design, utility upgrades and property acquisitions for this phase was funded in FY16 -FY18, construction was not funded in fiscal year FY19 as the community wanted to further reimagine the concept for the Wailuku Civic Complex (which later became the Hālau of ʻŌiwi Art). Instead, Maui County Council selected to move forward funding for the parking garage and infrastructure improvements only which are currently under construction.
FY23 funds will be utilized to update the Hālau of ʻŌiwi Art building design, redo the Environmental Assessment, develop construction plans and fund construction. While contracts would be encumbered during the FY23 CIP cycle, it is expected that project construction will be a multi-year effort. The full construction budget is needed upfront to encumber a complete contract because Hawai‘i procurement law prohibits the County from contracting for services that are not yet funded.
The preliminary project timeline for the Hālau of ʻŌiwi Art project is as follows:
Community Engagement, Council Engagement
Execution of a Grant/Lease Agreement
This parcel has been continuously used since at least the late 1840s when the man Kawahinekuapuʻu cultivated it for kalo. By the early 1900s, the site where Hālau of ʻŌiwi Art will stand was the home to the Japanese Church that would eventually relocate in the 1930s and become the ʻĪao United Church of Christ. Also on the same lot were several other buildings including two tenements.
The historic King Theater was soon constructed on the same site, and opened in 1936 (it had a 6ft deep basement). By 1964, most of the structures were condemned and leveled, and became a parking lot. In 1980, the King Theater was also demolished, its basement backfilled. When the County purchased the property in August of 2018 it was vacant.
Going back to Wailuku prior to the arrival of foreigners, the mōʻī (sovereign, seat of the aliʻi) was here in Wailuku. The finest in all types of art, from chanters, hula, orators, kapa, weaving, etc. would be accumulated in this Wailuku area. The pinnacle of art at the time would be there in Wailuku. When the missionaries and sugar plantations came in Wailuku was the place where Edward Bailey painted his famous landscapes and where the stores of old Wailuku Town sold the best fashion, art and furniture offered on Maui at the time. It was a theater district then and continues to be to this day. This moment and this project is about local people with pilina (connection) to the community being able to create art that melds contemporary times with local values and traditional arts.
We hope this facility will continue to serve as a place for community gathering, art showcases, education, preservation of culture and history, and performance.
“After this, we both took up golf on during the week and started eating fancy dinners at the local Country Club... Ha. This is not what happened at all. We suck at golf and love eating Guzman Y Gomez.”
Adam, Co-founder of Lumio