The earliest known tax records, dating from approximately six thousand years B.C., are in the form of clay tablets found in the ancient city-state of Lagash in modern day Iraq, just northwest of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
The king used a tax system called bala, which meant “rotation.” The assessors would focus on one area of the city-state, assessing and taxing one area each month, thereby breaking down the arduous task into more manageable components.
Ancient Egypt had a thriving culture that began around 5,000 B.C. and lasted thousands of years. Taxes were levied against the value of grain, cattle, oil, beer and land. (Carlson)
Hawaiʻi is geographically an archipelago. It consists of eight main islands, plus a chain of islands extending 1,100-miles to the northwest. Johnston Atoll (Kalama), Palmyra Island and Kingman Reef to the south of Hawaiʻi were part of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, but the Admission Act excluded these from the geographical boundaries of the State of Hawaiʻi. (Van Dyke)
Papahānaumokuākea (Northwestern Hawaiian Islands) consists of all islands, atolls, reefs and shoals in the Hawaiian Archipelago northwest of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau.
All islands, atolls, reefs and shoals in the Hawaiian Archipelago, except for the Midway Islands, are included in the State of Hawaiʻi under the Admission Act, the State Constitution and the Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes.
The origin of county government within the American context is found in the Organic Act (June 14, 1900) which created the Territory of Hawaiʻi and which gave it the authority to establish municipalities.
The Territorial Legislature made a first attempt at creation of the four counties in 1903 (Act 31;) however, in 1904, the Territorial Supreme Court voided that effort on procedural grounds. The Legislature’s second attempt in 1905, “The County Act” (Act 39,) was successful, though it required an override of a veto by the Territorial Governor. (Konishi)
The City and County of Honolulu consists of the island of Oʻahu, all other islands not included in any other county and adjacent waters thereto. (Legislative Reference Bureau) Essentially, this means the City and County of Honolulu (“Honolulu”) covers all of Oʻahu (and its surrounding islets) plus the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (except Midway.)
A mapping effort was initiated in 1917 with the appropriation Act. A Branch was created for the purpose of making maps for the use of the tax assessors.
In 1932, a comprehensive plan for a coordinated mapping system was adopted. Its project included the mapping of the entire land area of the Islands, drawing all tax maps on sheets of uniform size and the creation of a key system.
The key system provided for the accounting of all properties based on location, boundaries, area and ownership identified through its Tax Map Key. (In Hawaiʻi roads are not given Tax Map Key (TMK) designations.) (kauai-gov)
The state was divided and numbered into four tax districts (effectively each County) – First: City & County of Honolulu (Island of Oʻahu;) Second: Maui County, including Molokai, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe (Kalawao County, though a County, is not recognized as a tax Division;) Third: Hawaiʻi County; and Fourth: Kauai County, including Niʻihau, Lehua, Kaula. (Only the main Hawaiian Islands have Tax Maps.)
Each district is divided and numbered into zones (there are up to 9 zones in each district;) tax map zones are divided into sections (there are up to 9 sections in each zone – earlier mapping had the section represented by respective ahupuaʻa;) sections are divided into plats; finally, individual parcels are identified in each plat. (Soehren)
Generally, there is a pattern that the zone numbering follows relative to each Island. For instance in Hawaiʻi County, the zone numbering starts in Puna (Zone 1,) and the numbering is counter-clockwise around the perimeter of the Island (Zone 2 is South Hilo, Zone 3 is North Hilo, Zone 4 is Hāmākua, etc.)
Likewise, generally, the sections follow a numbering pattern starting with Section 1 at zone boundary nearest the prior numbered zone and section numbers sequentially increase across the zone to the next zone common boundary.
The Tax Map Key is a sequence of numbers representing the respective district – zone – section – plat and parcel (with subsequent legislation and creation of condominiums, these are followed by the assigned condominium unit number.)
While driving in rural areas, you might notice the multiple digits in hyphenated street addresses – two digits, a hyphen separator, followed by up to four digits.
The preceding 2-digits represent the zone and section (respectively) of the tax map that the property is situated in. I grew up at 44-453 Kāneʻohe Bay Drive on Oʻahu – that means the property is in zone 4, section 4 of the First District.
The property Tax Map Key is typically written as: (1) 4-4-006:014 (District 1; Zone 4; Section 4; Plat 6; Parcel 14 – if this was a condominium, the sequence would be followed by the assigned tax map unit number.)