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OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Zack Smith, left, and Kamoa Quitevis, right, accepted a Special Achievement in GIS Award from Environmental Systems Research Institute President Jack Dangermond, center, at the Esri International User Conference in July. Photo: Courtesy Esri

OHA research team earns innovation award

HONOLULU (Sept. 1, 2014) – The Office of Hawaiian Affairs Research Program has been recognized for its work in geographic information systems by a global leader in mapping technologies. The Special Achievement in GIS Award from the Environmental Systems Research Institute was presented at the 2014 Esri International User Conference in San Diego in July.

With more than 100,000 organizations using Esri GIS products, only around 170 users are selected by ESRI President Jack Dangermond to receive the award each year. OHA caught the eye of ESRI staff because of its unique use of mapping technology, which enables the community to take an interactive look at Hawai‘i’s landscape through wahi inoa, or place names. OHA’s cultural use of GIS technology allows the user to view maps of Hawai‘I as a traditional land system, where mokupuni (islands) are divided into moku (districts) and ahupua‘a (land divisions extending from upland to the sea).

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Zack Smith and Kamoa Quiteves gave a presentation at the conference, and explained the new ways OHA would be using GIS software through its Kïpuka database.

“This year we went and presented because we’re in the middle of testing out the participatory part of our database,” said Quiteves, OHA’s land, culture and history manager. “You (the user) are now allowed to input data into it. Let’s just say you found a historic site, there was an ahu (altar) or heiau (shrine) and nobody knew it was there, now you can add features and data.”

Quiteves says that inputting data on Native Hawaiian land use can be a daunting challenge for him and his staff, which is why he hopes that this new feature will allow the people to tell their stories of places important to them.

“For a description of an ahupua‘a, I could read through several books and give a nice description, but I thought it would be more appropriate if people from their own communities came up with those descriptions,” he said.

This new feature on kipukadatabase.com will allow people to maximize the use of the latest mapping technologies, but more importantly, it gives people a place to share their mo‘olelo (stories) about the land, which might have been missed in years past.

“If the information is excellent and we review it, then we just press a button that populates it into our database,” Quitevis said.

To learn more, visit www.kipukadatabase.com.

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