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naauao and van heukelem in maui
Liane Naʻauao and Malia Van Heukelem at the Kākoʻo Maui Resource Center.

In recognition of their efforts in aiding collections caretakers and residents amidst the aftermath of the devastating August 2023 wildfires in Maui, Liane Naʻauao and Malia Van Heukelem of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Library, have been recognized as recipients of the President’s Award by the American Institute for Conservation (AIC).

van heukelem inspects registers
Van Heukelem assists with inventorying the sacramental registers from Lahaina.

Naʻauao, a paper conservator, and Van Heukelem, an archivist, librarian and collections manager, were integral members of the National Heritage Responders who swiftly mobilized to provide assistance to Lahaina museums, cultural centers, libraries, and schools in salvaging fire-damaged artifacts and documents.

“We are deeply honored to receive the President’s Award,” said Naʻauao and Van Heukelem. “This recognition is not just for us, but for the entire community of responders and partners who worked tirelessly to provide assistance during such a challenging time. Every individual and organization involved played a crucial role in the recovery efforts, and we are grateful for their dedication and support.”

Making help accessible

Following the wildfires, Naʻauao and Van Heukelem utilized their expertise to help develop a series of webinar presentations, accessible online through the AIC, and focused on aiding Lahaina’s cultural and heritage institutions. These webinars, while initially targeted at professionals, also proved valuable for Maui residents seeking guidance in salvaging personal belongings.

Our goal is to remain actively engaged in providing assistance and resources to ensure the preservation of Maui’s rich cultural heritage.
—Malia Van Heukelem

With a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Naʻauao and Van Heukelem will continue to provide on-site assistance as recovery efforts persist.

Van Heukelem added, “While we are proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, we understand that the recovery process will take time and sustained effort. Our goal is to remain actively engaged in providing assistance and resources to ensure the preservation of Maui’s rich cultural heritage.”

They are taking part in National Preservation Week initiatives, raising awareness about fire disaster planning and management in collaboration with organizations like ARMA Hawaiʻi and the Hawaiʻi Library Association.

“Through our small part, we hope to inspire action to preserve these precious collections,” said Naʻauao.

Since its inception in 1974, the AIC has recognized outstanding contributions to the field of conservation. Naʻauao and Van Heukelem will be honored at the institute’s annual meeting on May 21.

naauao and ching inspect registers
Naʻauao with archivist Stuart Ching inspecting sacramental registers recovered from the Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, Lahaina.
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