For most of my adult life I have worked, and occasionally lived, near Iolani Palace. It is an awe-inspiring building that embodies the history of these islands, and I can only imagine what Native Hawaiians feel when they gaze upon it.

Like many, I have been dismayed by the number of people living on the palace grounds, who on several recent occasions have damaged the Palace. While I sympathized for these people and support stronger efforts to combat homelessness in our state, I also believe our community has an obligation to protect Iolani Palace and all it stands for.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that the palace remains under state jurisdiction, leaving it open to all members of the public.

Iolani Palace reflection parking lot. 10 march 2017
The author wants the state to relinquish control of Iolani Palace to improve its care and upkeep. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

It also occurred to me it is slightly unsettling that the palace is controlled by an entity that is in many ways the beneficiary of the “Committee of Safety,” which illegally overthrew the Hawaiian government.

Therefore, I propose the palace be transferred to the control of a nonprofit, such as the Friends of Iolani Palace.

The state can continue to provide monetary support via an annual grant. This would allow the nonprofit to enforce no loitering rules and institute other measures to protect the palace that the state cannot.

The Royal Hawaiian Band marching in a Waikiki parade in 2012. Flickr: Daniel Ramirez

The other great collection of historical Hawaiian artifacts in the islands is housed by Bishop Museum, and they seem to avoid some of the challenges that come from being state controlled.

As a related proposal, I also suggest the City and County of Honolulu transfer the Royal Hawaiian Band to the same entity that will manage the palace.

My hope is to only spark a discussion, especially among Native Hawaiians.

While it is a point of pride that the RHB is the only full time municipal band in the United States, every time the economy takes a downturn, the RHB becomes an easy target for reduced funding or elimination.

It seems fitting to me that the band, which was started under the first dynasty of Hawaiian monarchs, be officially reunited with the palace that was built under the second one.

Non-Hawaiians, whether they recently moved here or were born and raised here like me, ought to be mindful when sharing their opinions on what should happen to resources that at one time belonged to the Hawaiian Kingdom.

My hope is to only spark a discussion, especially among Native Hawaiians, so we can all work together to preserve and protect Hawaiiʻs most precious and valued resources for generations to come.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Column lengths should be no more than 800 words and we need a current photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.

About the Author

  • Bryan Mick
    Born and raised in Kailua, Bryan Mick graduated from University of Hawaii Manoa with a degree in political science and has worked in city and state government for the past 13 years. Currently a member of the Ala Moana-Kakaako Neighborhood Board, he wrote this in his individual capacity.