Repository Spotlight: The Heritage Center at the North Hawaiʻi Education and Research Center, Honokaʻa

We’re pleased to introduce you to another repository featured in the 5th Edition of the Directory of Historical Records Repositories in Hawai’i. This month’s pick is the Heritage Center at the North Hawai’i Education and Research Center in Honoka’a, Hawai’i Island.

Here’s what they very kindly shared with us:

In 2006, the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s North Hawaiʻi Education and Research Center (NHERC) in Honokaʻa opened its doors as an education and research facility to serving the north part of Hawaiʻi Island. Since the mid-1970s the community had been voicing a need for an archives and museum facility to house area history. When the Hāmākua Sugar Plantation closed in 1994, a facility where plantation heritage could be preserved was also at the forefront of community needs.

Mica and Dave

Work Study student Mica Cook and Volunteer Dave Herman in the plantation parlor replica at the Heritage Center.

In late 2010, the phase two building of NHERC to house the Heritage Center and additional classrooms was completed and Dr. Momi Naughton was hired as the Heritage Center Coordinator. Since that time, with the help of part-time employees, work study students, and volunteers, the center has had three exhibits in the changing gallery and has been making progress on a long-term exhibit room on area history. A resource room and archives was started with community donations of photographs, documents, artifacts and news articles. The center is guided by a community advisory board made up of a cross-section of people from different ethnicities and backgrounds.

Visitors to the NHERC Heritage Center have included school groups, seniors’ organizations, historians, Mainland and local visitors, filmmakers and those seeking to do genealogies on area families. In addition, the Heritage Center has been conducting oral histories, developing K-12 history curriculum, and doing outreach exhibits in public venues throughout Hāmākua and Kohala. The Heritage Center also coordinated non-credit classes at NHERC that deal with heritage and culture.

An outreach display for the North Kohala library of the photos by Boone Morrison on archaeological sites on the Kohala Coast.

An outreach display for the North Kohala library of the photos by Boone Morrison on archaeological sites on the Kohala Coast.

The Heritage Center has been working with architects and historians on documentation to nominate the buildings on Māmāne Street in Honokaʻa for the State and National Register of Historic Places. Dr. Naughton also teaches a Museology class for UH Hilo at the facility and offers upper division students applied learning opportunities in curation and exhibit development.

The NHERC Heritage Center is open free to the public Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm and on Saturday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.

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