Oct. 19—Four pest control operators and two manufacturers are donating their services to Iolani Palace to assist with termite and pest repair indefinitely.
Pest Tech Hawaii, Eco Shield, Kilauea Termite and Pest, and Aloha Pest Solutions are donating an estimated $10, 000 worth of services every year.
"Personally, as a Native Hawaiian, you've got to do this, " said Pest Tech owner Ian Mateo.
"If you've been blessed to be successful enough here in Hawaii, and then be able to give back to something as historic as the palace, if you can, can. You just got to do it. It's the right thing to do."
BASF, a company based in North Carolina, donated $7, 000 in products for the project, as well as Veseris, which donated $3, 500.
"We've done another project in Hawaii, the Hawaii Plantation Villages, which we continue to service in conjunction with some of the best pest management professionals in the industry, " said BASF sales specialist Matthew Bloom.
"We're going to continue to service these stations alongside our great pest management professionals indefinitely."
Iolani Palace Executive Director Paula Akana was excited for the work on the palace to get started.
"They've decided to donate their services to handle our pest control needs for the future going forward ... which is a really big help for us, " she said.
The treatment started Monday, beginning on termite damage and putting in termite traps to stop further damage to the structure. Termites that encounter the traps eat the poison and take it back to their colonies.
The installation of the termite bait stations and rat bait stations at Iolani Palace is estimated to be worth about $17, 000.
Hawaii is the second-largest state for termite damage and pays the most overall for termite damage repairs.
Iolani Palace was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the infection mitigation efforts that limit visitor capacity. It was shut down in 2020 between March and June, and had to furlough half of its staff.
However, it is recovering.
Iolani Palace has been able to break even in recent months. A spokesperson for Iolani Palace said expenses are lower and that it has been able to break even only because of how much the business has been able to trim. The hope is that Iolani Palace will be able to scale up again to its 400-500 visitors a day as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Tours have been able to bring in only half the revenue they did before because of the capacity limitations due to the COVID-19 infection mitigation efforts.
Iolani Palace has adapted to the lower number of visitors by offering more private and exclusive tours for a higher price, which have been popular. One of the new tours explores the relationship between the Hawaiian kingdom and Japan, and costs $69.95 for adults. Another new tour allows a maximum of four people into the attic of the palace, which is normally not allowed, and gives people the opportunity to handle some of the artifacts.
That tour costs $99.95, compared with $30 for a normal, docent-led tour.
Iolani Palace also has opened an online gift shop to help with sales.
Akana also was encouraged by several grants that Iolani Palace received. One is a federal Save America's Treasures grant of $500, 000 that will go toward fixing the palace's roof. The Department of Land and Natural Resources is matching that amount for a total of $1 million.
"Our roof has been leaking for 10 years, " she said.
"Now with this grant money, we have the $1 million, plus a little extra from other companies and foundations, and work will begin really soon to repair the roof."
Iolani Palace also received funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act as well as $720, 000 from the state Legislature this year—more than the palace has ever received.
"It's just really encouraging, " Akana said.
"The pandemic did cause us to shut down, and we didn't know where we're gonna go. And now the community and different organizations, everyone's just really coming together to help us."