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Thursday, January 11, 2001

Kamehameha eyeing Bishop Museum site

It is considering turning
the Kapalama campus into
a cultural center

By Rick Daysog

The Kamehameha Schools is taking a close look at purchasing the Bishop Museum's land and buildings to develop a multipurpose Hawaiian educational center.

In a three-page letter to Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chairwoman Haunani Apoliona yesterday, Kamehameha Schools Chief Executive Officer Hamilton McCubbin outlined plans for acquiring the museum's Kapalama campus and turning it into a major Hawaiian cultural center.

The proposed deal would restore the historic ties between the museum and the trust. The Kamehameha Schools was founded in 1884 by the will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop and her husband Charles Reed Bishop founded the museum. The museum's Bishop Hall building was the original site of the Kamehameha Schools.

The financial terms of the proposed deal were not disclosed.

"We see the opportunity to acquire the Bishop Museum campus as a unique opportunity for the Hawaiian community," McCubbin said.

"Such a facility might even serve as a center for Hawaiian studies to address the various points of view shared by various interest groups."

Bishop Museum officials had no immediate comment.

In the proposed deal, the museum and its various historical and cultural artifacts would remain at its current site under an arrangement between the two organizations. The Kamehameha Schools said it envisions building new facilities to house Hawaiian agencies like the OHA and Alu Like as well and various Hawaiian trusts.

In his letter to Apoliona, McCubbin suggested that OHA lease space at the museum property for its offices. OHA is in the process of looking for permanent headquarters.

McCubbin said the site also could house a preschool for native Hawaiians.

McCubbin said that several Kamehameha Schools staffers have met to discuss how the trust would own and operate the museum properties. The $6 billion estate also has hired a planning firm to conduct an inventory and identifie potential use for museum's various buildings.

McCubbin stressed that plans are at a "very very preliminary stage," noting that the museum only recently contacted the trust. He said he met with museum director Donald Horner, chairman of the museum's physical plant committee and a First Hawaiian Bank executive, several weeks ago to discuss a potential purchase and development the museum for educational purposes.

Horner could not be reached for immediate comment.

This is not the first proposed land deal between the Kamehameha Schools and the Bishop Museum. In 1994, the museum considered selling 600 acres of land in the Big Island's historic Waipio Valley to the Kamehameha Schools but the deal was never consummated.

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