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Hawaiian Ecosystems and Geography Research Guide: Home

About this Guide

This research guide was created for students in HWST 457 ʻĀina Mauli Ola: Hawaiian Ecosystems and HWST 650 Hawaiian Geography and Resource Management to help them find secondary literature and primary sources on traditional Hawaiian and modern resource management understandings, practices, and methods. Need research help? Email Hawaiian Collection librarian Kapena Shim at

Note on ecosystems and geographies. An excellent way to find information about Hawaiian ecosystems and geographies is to lead your searches with place names related to the ecosystems and geographies you are interested in. Since names vary over time, brainstorm all possibilities, such as the common name today, i.e. Hawaiʻi Kai vs. Maunalua, and socio-political/tenure land divisions such as ʻili, ahupuaʻa, moku, and mokupuni.

Cultural and Archaeological Studies

UH Mānoa's OneSearch
Searches the Hawaiian Collection's holdings of cultural and archaeological studies and reports. To find these studies and reports, click the link for an advanced search. On the advanced search page, select "UHM Library" as the search scope and use one of the search templates below. Once you have a results list, filter results by "Held by Library."

  • Any field: place name archaeolog*
  • Any field: place name cultural
  • Any field: place name histor*
  • Any field: place name AND Subject: antiquities

State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD)'s Library
In Kapolei and Maui, SHPD's libraries hold many cultural and archaeological surveys, reports, and other studies submitted to the State Historic Preservation Division as part of statutory requirements for projects that impact historic properties and disturb the ground. 

  • To locate materials in their library, search their database, Hawaiʻi Cultural Resource Information System (HICRIS), for archaeological reports they have digitized. The coverage of digitized historical materials is vital for all the islands except a small part of Hawaiʻi Island and half of Oʻahu (from ʻAiea to Kahaluʻu). Below are detailed steps to search in HICRIS.
    • First, create an account.
    • Second, click the "Search" tab on top, then click the "Library" section. You will only want to search the "Library" section. All other sections are meant for other parties SHPD deals with and are not accessible to the general public. 
    • Third, search for a simple place name keyword in the "Library Item Title" field. Note that the TMK field does not work the best. You can easily find a final report by filtering by "Library Item Type."
    • Fourth, once you have results, adjust columns to make it easier to review the results list and read the titles of available reports.
    • Fifth, download the item by clicking the "Go To" icon, then clicking the item's title, then clicking the "View" button (top right) in the "Attachments" section.
  • If you have any trouble with this and an attachment is unavailable, you can email the SHPD librarian at for help. Please also note that if you have a Tax Map Key (TMK) number, I suggest you email the librarian immediately for any related reports because TMK organizes the SHPD library. The format for a TMK number is I-Z-S-PPP-ppp, for example, 3-9-2-118-043.
    • I = Island (County) Number (1 digit) (1 Honolulu, 2 Maui, 3 Hawaii, 4 Kauai)
    • Z = Zone Number (1 digit)
    • S = Section Number (1 digit)
    • PPP = Plat Number (3 digits)*
    • ppp = Parcel Number (3 digits)*
      *Add leading zeros to the numbers if they contain less than three digits.

Nā Mea ʻImi Ka Wā Kahiko: An Annotated Bibliography of Hawaiian Archaeology, 1988
It is an excellent source for finding additional cultural and archaeological studies and reports that perhaps are not in OneSearch. This bibliography is only available in print. References are annotated and grouped by island. There is also a cross-referenced island, district, and ahupuaʻa index. 

Bishop Museum's Anthropology Manuscript Database
Searches manuscripts from past cultural and archaeological projects held in Bishop Museum's Archives. To find manuscripts, you can explore by author, title, publication year, or museum project number. Do a simple KEYWORD search for your place name in the title field. If you encounter any publications of interest, search in OneSearch to see if the Hawaiian Collection has them.

Bishop Museum's Anthropology Projects Database
Search reports from current and past projects undertaken by the Bishop Museum's anthropology department. Do a simple KEYWORD search for your place name in the locality field or use the island and district fields to browse the places covered in the database. If you find any publications of interest, you may want to search in OneSearch to see if the Hawaiian Collection has them.

Environmental Review & Studies

Environmental Review Program (formally Office of Environmental Quality Control)
The online library of Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) and Environmental Assessments (EAs) includes drafts, finals, withdrawals, acceptances, and supplemental determinations. Because rules governing the creation of these documents varied over time, they are findable in three groupings to maintain that context: EAs & EISs (Pre-1996), EAs & EISs (1996-2019), and EAs & EISs (2019-Present).

UH Mānoa's OneSearch
Searches the Hawaiian Collection's holdings and the holdings of many peer-reviewed journal databases that our library does and does not subscribe to. You'll also find EISs and EAs and additional books, reports, and studies that speak to the environmental background of the ecosystem you are researching, such as theses, studies, and reports. You can lead your keywords with place names and/or physical and biological aspects, such as water, beaches, plants, animals, and marine life. Also, do an Advanced Search Institutional Repository search in ScholarSpace and eVols.

Google Scholar
A simple broad search for scholarly literature, such as peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts, and articles, from academic publishers, professional societies, government, universities, and other scholarly organizations.

Ethnographic Studies and Recorded Histories

Ulukau's Kumu Pono Associates Publications
Use Ulukau to browse a selection of ethnographic studies published by Kumu Pono Associates.

  • To find these publications, type in "Kumu Pono Associates" in the main search box. Outside of Ulukau, you can see additional publications on their website: Do the exact search in OneSearch and filter results to "Held by Library."

Center for Oral History's ScholarSpace Collection
Based in the UHM's Ethnic Studies department, the Center for Oral History has done extensive oral history projects documenting communities, ethnic groups, government, historical events, individual lives, and occupations. The transcripts of these recordings are available and searchable online through ScholarSpace.

A newer digital repository that holds the Ka Leo Hawaiʻi radio program audio recordings from the Hui Aloha ʻĀina Tuahine of UH Mānoa broadcast in 1972-1986. This database aims to transcribe fully and index the tapes, but not all recordings are transcribed or indexed. Looks like 59 out of 417 recordings have been completed so far. A Kū I Ka Mānaleo section also features short excerpts on different topics. 

Ka Leo Hawaiʻi Radio Recordings @ UHM CLT
UHM's Center for Language and Technology (CLT) has also made available the same audio recordings (except the excerpts) as Kaniʻāina. They are available online through their "Language Audio" portal. The advantage of using this portal is that guests and callers index all the recordings, and topics are discussed every 5 minutes in each radio program.

Ka Leo Hawaiʻi Recordings @ eVols
This is a collection of recordings from 1991-2000, when Puakea Nogelmeier, Tuti Kanahele, and Hauʻoli Akaka hosted the program. The tapes are only indexed by the interviewee listed in the subject field.

Bishop Museum's Archive Catalog
Mary Kawena Pukui conducted extensive ethnographic interviews with kūpuna across the pae ʻāina. The recordings, interviewees, and topics discussed are searchable in the Bishop Museum's archive catalog. Note that these recordings are only accessible in person at the Bishop Museum's Archives.

Papakilo Database's "Simple Search"
Searches across the many cultural and historical collections in Papakilo from partners such as the Bishop Museum, Hawaiʻi State Archives, State Historic Preservation Department, Ulukau, and the Hula Preservation Society. These collections have a mix of resources such as archival records/finding aids, publications, index cards, and entries leading to new sources, historic sites, place name data, OHA maps and reports, and much more. 

Māhele Records and Maps

Lloyd J. Soehren's Catalog of Hawaiʻi Place Names
Compiled from many māhele records, survey maps, and other sources, it searches for various place names and natural features. It identifies the source(s) in which the names and features are mentioned for cross-referencing. Includes Hawaiʻi, Kauaʻi, Kaʻula, Lānaʻi, Lehua, Maui, Molokaʻi, Niʻihau, and Oʻahu. Excluded for now: Leeward Island, Nihoa. It is also partially available on Ulukau in browsable and drill-down formats. You can also search this collection on Ulukau using their "Inoa ʻĀina Hawaiʻi" or "Hawaiian Place Names" search scope.

Papakilo Database's "Search for Mahele Records"  
The "Search Mahele Record" search is a straightforward and efficient way to find māhele records such as the register, testimony, awards, and patents. This search also includes māhele records that were not awarded, which Kipuka does not have.

GIS database that links to māhele records, land grants, TMK maps, survey maps, and additional resources. It is a great place to start your research to find historical land tenure documents about the place being researched. Note: Not all māhele records are mapped in certain areas, especially in urban Oʻahu. Click here to see an interesting storymap that discusses the ahupuaʻa GIS layer.

Waihona Aina
Provides access to transcriptions, translations, and tabulations of māhele records, Land Grants, Boundary Commission, and Royal Patents. You must pay to access these documents, but UH Mānoa students, faculty, and staff can obtain up to 5 documents per class research assignment. A big plus with this database is that you can freely search the full text of the transcriptions and the indexes. Another big plus is that the māhele registers and testimonies are translated.

After clicking "Expert" on the homepage, you can access the buke māhele, foreign and native testimonies, and land commission awards. The database also includes a selection of survey maps from the Hawaiʻi Land Survey Division. The main advantage of this database is that it provides a searchable transcription of Land Commission Awards and translations of native testimonies.

Hawaiʻi Land Division Survey Maps
Using the "Map Search," access digital copies of their historic survey maps. These maps reference different māhele records. Download the index to locate the map register number or other indexes you have that have the map register number. You can also find maps in the "Miscellaneous Maps" section.

Hawaiʻi Maps @ MAGIS
UHM Library's Maps, Aerial Photos, and GIS (MAGIS) department has a detailed guide to finding all sorts of maps and aerial photos of Hawaiʻi, such as historical maps, topographic maps, and thematic maps.

More Guides

These research guides will point you in the right direction to find additional information about the ecosystems and places you are researching that can further help you locate resources around the three sections of your research project: Environmental background, Cultural use and traditional land tenure, and Contemporary context. Note that there is some overlap of resources between these guides and the resources listed on this page.

Hawaiʻi Place Names
Hawaiʻi Ahupuaʻa Research
Tutorial on Māhele Records
Hawaiʻi General Research