Those of you who enjoy looking at musty old Hawaii Land Court applications from the comfort of your own home are in luck: Thanks to years of diligent work from the North Beach West Maui Benefit Fund, a huge trove of old West Maui Land Court applications is now online–all free to read and download.
“In 1903, the Territory of Hawaii adopted the ‘Torrens’ system of land registration where claimants of land could petition the Land Court, in Honolulu, to confirm their title and be issued a certificate of title,” stated a Sept. 29 news release from Benefit Fund spokesperson Lance Collins. “The territory (and now state) guarantees the validity of any certificate of title issued. Applications to register land generally included information about the land itself and many times history about the families that lived on the land.”
The online archive should prove a valuable resource to historians and families seeking to research West Maui (and Lanai) land titles. Until now, families seeking this information have had to fly to Oahu and scan microfilm files at the Honolulu courthouse. If they wanted copies, that was an additional $1 per page–and files range in size from a few hundred to thousands of pages.
“In 2012, Dr. Sydney Iaukea, during her research of the book Keka`a: The Making and Saving of North Beach West Maui, wrote to the Benefit Fund explaining the difficulty she had with accessing the materials and concern about how much more difficult it would be for working families on Maui to go to Honolulu to do research on family land and asked the Benefit Fund to look into making access easier for Maui families,” stated the news release. “The Benefit Fund has spent several years obtaining the permission necessary from the Judiciary to get these historic applications available online.”
For his part, Benefit Fund spokesperson Collins said that “The Benefit Fund extends its deep gratitude to the Chief Staff Attorney of the Supreme Court and the Registrar of the Land Court for their assistance in making this project a reality.”
Click here to go to the West Maui Land Court applications archive.
Photo: Curt Smith/Flickr