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Ahu'ena Heiau

United States of America
Project Resources

Located just across from Hulihe'e Palace, the Ahu'ena Heiau served as the personal temple of King Kamehameha the Great. The temple essentially functioned as the first capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom. In 2010, CyArk conducted the field research for the digital preservation of three culturally significant Hawaiian sites, known as wahi pana ("places of significant meaning" in Hawaiian). These three sites were Ahu'ena Heiau (Kamehameha the Great's personal temple), Hulihe'e Palace (the summer residence of the Hawaiian royal family), and portions of the Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Park ("Place of Refuge" which served as a sanctuary to those fleeing capture or punishment).

Due to the sacred nature of the Ahu'ena Heiau and the full site access required to document the site, CyArk requested permission from multiple authorities before the work began, including an offering to the spirits of the wahi pana guaranteeing that the intrusion was not meant to take or destroy anything that would undermine the structure's integrity. At the time of scanning, the heiau was undergoing restoration using the application of tea leaves on the covering in fully traditional methods, making the capture of the entire structure possible. This opens a wonderful opportunity for the re-scanning of the heiau after the restoration is complete, allowing for the visualization of the structure in multiple stages of construction: the frame from interior and exterior scans, the mid-stage restoration, and the final product. Because the reconstructed model is only 1/3 the size of the original structure, CyArk hopes to generate an actual size model situated in the original landscape, before the development of the current neighboring hotel and dock. With this accurate digital reconstruction, CyArk hopes to forward its mission by providing the public with a glimpse of an often overlooked Hawaiian heritage site, offering virtual access to a highly revered and restricted site.

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