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'Iolani School Archives: Land History

The ‘Iolani School Archives collects, organizes, preserves and provides access to historical records of ‘Iolani School.

For several years now in academia, the practice of indigenous land acknowledgements has become an increasingly popular beginning to conferences and other large gatherings.
The purpose being to call attention to injustices and highlight uncomfortable histories that have largely been suppressed.

Recently, it has been noted that land acknowledgements would be more impactful if accompanied by historical context and resources for individual inquiry.
It is in this spirit that the following is offered.
Let this be merely one component of your knowledge seeking journey.

Ala Wai Site Land History

Historically, the land from Kaka'ako to Lē'ahi (Diamond Head) was wetland floodplains, salt ponds, lo'i kalo (taro patches), loko i'a (fish ponds), and various 'auwai (irrigation channels). It was productive agricultural area. 

With the influx of Asian immigrants and culture in the mid to late 1800s, much of the ponds and patches were converted into rice fields. 

The 1920s brought the Ala Wai project which drained the lands and merged streams priming for landfill and development.

Research conducted by
Tyler Greenhill, 'Iolani Class of 2008,
Graduate Student, American Studies,
University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, 2018


Matching History

The images contained here match up sections of the 'Iolani campus with the historic Land Commission Awards (LCAs).
Research and rendering by Dr. Richard Bordner, Professor, Chaminade University, and Candice Sakuda, formerly of Chaminade University and current Director of Community & Civic Engagement, 'Iolani School. Maps by Google Earth.

(Click images to enlarge)

Lower School,
Climbing Wall area

Upper School,
Track & Field area

Lower School,
Grades 4-6
Classrooms area

Lower School,
Field House
Restrooms area

Lower School,
K-1 Community &
K-1 Auto Line area

Lower School,
Lāʻau near
K-1 Community area

Upper School,
Lāʻau near
Tennis Courts area

Lower School,
Tennis Courts near
Field House area

Upper School,
Student Center near
Covered Walkway area

St. Alban's Chapel

Upper School,
Lower Gym area


For a list of Hawai'i land research terminology, see University of Hawai'i Law Library's "Hawai'i Legal Research" LibGuide.

Ala Wai Canal Development

A Non-Indigenous Viewpoint

Hawaii: Patriarch to a State
Eulogy of Walter Francis Dillingham
November 01, 1963

Resources for Land Research in Hawai'i and Beyond

'Iolani School Location - By Source -


mokupuni (island) O'ahu
moku (district) Kona
ahupua'a (land division) Waikīkī
'ili (land section) Kamoku

Research conducted by
Tyler Greenhill, 'Iolani Class of 2008,
Graduate Student, American Studies,
University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, 2018

(Click on image to enlarge.)


Sites of Oahu

mokupuni (island) O'ahu
moku (district) Kona
ahupua'a (land division)


(Click on image to enlarge.)

Bishop Museum, 1959, as published in
Sterling, Elspeth and Catherine C. Summers. "Kona." In Sites of Oahu. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1978.

Available in the Tsuzuki Group Library (Upper School), call no. H 913.969 SIT.


Differences to Note

In Papakilo, the
ahupua'a within the
moku of Kona are:


In Sites of Oahu (1978), the
ahupua'a within the
moku of Kona are:


Wai'alae Nui
Wai'alae Iki

Research conducted by
the Archivist, 2022

Reproductions here provided are for educational purposes only.
Compliance with Copyright, and other Intellectual Property laws, is the sole responsibility of the researcher.

School Use of the Land - Ala Wai Campus

Ka Moolelo O Iolani, 1946

July 1937
  • The Committee for the Commemoration of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Coming of the Episcopal Church [to the Hawaiian islands] embarked on a project to secure lands and buildings for 'Iolani School.
  • Iolani Company, Limited holding company is incorporated 
  • Options temporarily secured on a 25 acre site on the Ala Wai canal.
Summer 1938
  • Loans and title of the land secured (purchased date).
December 1941 / 1942
  • Japanese surprise attack on Pear Harbor, December 7, 1941.
  • Leased to the military, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
November 1946
  • Lower School opened at the Ala Wai site using structures that had been built by the military. [Upper School remains at the Nu'uanu Campus, Judd Street and Nu'uanu Avenue.]

Ka Moolelo O Iolani 1938

September 1953
  • The whole school, K-12, was operational at the site as of the beginning of the 1953/54 school year.
2017/18 School Year
  • 5.5 acre expansion begun.

Additional information can be found in:

"New Iolani Grounds Are Being Cleared," Hawaiian Church Chronicle, August 1938, vol.XXVIII, no. 5, page 3, University of Hawai'i eVols (

"Iolani School," Hawaiian Church Chronicle, November 1941, vol. XXXI, no. 8, page 3-4, University of Hawai'i eVols (

"Engineers Lease New Iolani Site" Hawaiian Church Chronicle, March 1942, vol. XXXI, no. 12, page 2, University of Hawai'i eVols (

"General Statement Concerning Finances," Hawaiian Church Chronicle, March 1942, vol. XXXI, no. 12, page 6, University of Hawai'i eVols (

"A Deserved Tribute," Hawaiian Church Chronicle, May 1945, vol. 35, no. 5, page 4-5, University of Hawai'i eVols (

"New Headmaster of Iolani School," Hawaiian Church Chronicle, September 1946, vol. 36, no. 7, page 6, University of Hawai'i eVols (

"New Ala Wai Property In OperationHawaiian Church Chronicle, December 1946, vol. 36, no. 10, page 2, University of Hawai'i eVols (

Villers, Ernest Gilbert. A History of Iolani School. Honolulu: 1940, page 154.
Available at 'Iolani (US Library, HR 371.02 VIL v. 1) and University of Hawai'i libraries.

A New Beginning

The Lower School opened at Ala Wai Campus in November 1946.

Quanset Hut Chapel at Ala Wai Campus 1946
Imua Iolani, December 20, 1946, page 3
(Click to enlarge)

For more information regarding the land history of the Ala Wai school site see:

A Growing Legacy

Various religious figures participated in a tree planting ceremony on the nascent Ala Wai Campus which was the meeting place of the 58th Episcopal General Convention in 1955.
(See the below attached documents for more information.)

Hawai'i hosting the convention was notable because of the lack of segregation laws
which prevented a diverse gathering from occurring in the continental U.S.
(Hawai'i was a U.S. Territory at the time of the Convention.)
For more information about the Convention, please see:

Heart of the School

Image: St. Alban's Chapel's stained glass window.

St. Alban's Chapel is situated at the heart of campus between the Upper and Lower schools.

  • Construction 1954
  • Consecrated on Oct. 3, 1954
    (See "Iolani Chapel Consecrated," Hawaiian Church Chronicle, Oct. 1954, page 3)
  • Jan. 25, 1995 K-12 service blessing the koa wood pews and stained glass
  • Stained glass and koa work- in honor of Rev. Coon
  • Koa provided by the C.Q. Yee Hop family from Yee Hop Ranch
  • Stained glass designed by Mrs. Joanne Coon and Mr. and Mrs. Randall L. Chun
  • The chapel on the previous, Nu'uanu, campus was also named St. Alban's
  • Named in recognition of the the first martyr of the English Church

Historical Photographs

Hawai'i State Archives PPWD-15-1-006

Hawai'i State Archives PPWD-19-7-042

Hawaiian Islands : A Complicated History of Identity, Politics, and Perspectives

See also, "Other Resources" box on this page.

Additional Resources

For More Information

For more information, schedule an appointment to conduct your research. Please note the Archives' open hours.

© The researcher assumes all responsibility for complying with Copyright and other Intellectual Property laws.