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Journal

  • October 4, 2017

    Sunset Elementary Mural

    Artist duo Wooden Wave (Matt and Roxy Ortiz) are currently starting two murals at Sunset Beach Elementary on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. The mural that is closer to the mountains will take on a mauka theme while the mural closest to the ocean will be makai themed. The mauka-themed wall will depict a sustainable treehouse farm built into a mountainside. Similarly, the makai-themed mural will be of a sustainable ocean clubhouse community.

    The native flora and fauna of the mauka mural’s foreground layer are currently being painted by the students from grades 1-3. The makai mural shows a vibrant reef ecosystem complete with corals and fish that was painted by the kindergarten and grade 4-6 students. With each student in the school participating, this means that over 400 students will be involved in this legacy project for the school. This level of school - wide participation is designed to instill in students a sense of pride and ownership for the finished murals.

    As part of the curriculum for the project, there was an in-class activity where the students drew images of what their ideal treehouse would look like. Additionally, each class submitted ideas of what kind of treehouse features they would like included in the part of the mural Wooden Wave will paint. The grade levels voted, and the winning features will be incorporated into the mural habitats. This activity is another way that the students are able to contribute to the development of the paintings.

    The student portion of the makai mural is complete and Wooden Wave is currently working with classes on the plants for the mauka mural. The artists will then spend the next month painting in the detailed sustainable communities. Not only are these collaborative murals serving as a way to bring art lessons to the school, they are also being used to address themes of environmental stewardship, Hawaiian values, and a sense of place.

    Project partners are the Friends of Sunset Beach, The Johnson ‘Ohana Foundation, and OluKai footwear.

    Article by: Wooden Wave

  • September 26, 2017

    Cliff Notes: Big Choices in Little Nicaragua

    Interview by: Cliff Kapono (@cliff_kapono)

    Whether it is the annoyance of another sibling, the comforting touch of an elder, or the simple smile from a distant relative, family can easily be taken for granted. Raised the second oldest of 5 children, I quickly assumed my role as “bruddah” from an early age. Although there were times it may have seemed like a chore, staying true to the values of ‘ohana was mandatory. As I travel to distant shores and experience different cultures, it is apparent that these values aren’t unique to Hawai‘i. On a recent trip to Central America, I met up with good friend Eric Nicholson who has recently relocated to the quiet Nicaraguan coast. We talked about the surf, community dynamics and most importantly the significance of family life.

    Great to see you again Eric. It’s been a minute. Is it weird to be so far away from home? I mean, where is home exactly?

    Southern California born and raised. I was born in LA, but moved to Ventura County when I was six. It’s cool to now be living in southern Nicaragua.

    Seems you couldn’t stray too far from the Pacific Coast. When was the first time you came to Nicaragua?

    I first visited Nica in 2009 during spring break my senior year of college. My friend Dane and his girlfriend at the time had driven down to Nicaragua from San Diego in a VW wagon. They were living in the city of Granada, which is about an hour south of Managua. I stayed with them and surfed around the San Juan Del Sur and Popoyo area for a bit.

    Ah the good old days. Has it changed much?

    It’s changed a lot but then again it hasn’t. Obviously surf and fishing tourism has grown.

    Why do you think that is?

    There’s a few reasons. Nicaragua is a fairly peaceful country these days where your dollar goes further. The southern region generally has 300+ days of offshore winds and it’s SW facing coast picks up swell pretty consistently. The offshore winds also provide upwelling along this stretch of coast that creates a lot of life for the fisheries.

    Sounds like an ocean-lover’s paradise. Seems like there are a lot of US citizens here in Nicaragua. What is the dynamic between the newly relocated residence and the local people?

    I guess it varies. like anywhere in the world, some locals hate foreigners and resent them living in their home and taking their resources. Others embrace the jobs that surf and fishing tourism has created for the local people.

    That sounds pretty similar to a lot of coastal communities. Do tensions ever arise?

    Definitely. Just last week this local cut in front of me in line at the grocery store, and when I politely asked him if he was aware of the line, he told me to go back to my country where I came from. Obviously that doesn’t mean everybody is like that, but it happens. Still, I have lots of good relationships with locals.

    That’s a tough one. Especially since because that local probably didn’t know why you live in Nicaragua now. Can you talk about why you are living here and what it was like making that choice?

    After I graduated from UCSD in 2009, it was super hard for me to find a job with the recession and all so I came down here for an extended surf trip. Nica may not have the world class waves that say Indonesia and other major surf destinations have, but it’s got incredibly consistent surf day in day out. And it’s a beautiful country with a very interesting history and culture. I ended up staying down here longer than I had imagined and got involved with a local woman. The next thing I knew I was having a son.

    Wow. That’s a pretty big life change. Especially right out of college.

    Yea, but being a father is tremendously fulfilling. I think kids have a way changing your perspective on life and bringing out the best in you. My son Dylan has undoubtedly given me a true sense of purpose. Initially, I wasn’t at all prepared to be a dad. It didn’t help that my parents weren’t supportive of me when they found out. I was 21 years old, fresh out of college with no money, and about to have a kid in a foreign country. It was tough for me. I struggled with a lot of internal conflict and self-doubt. Once I decided to really go all in and be a proud father to Dylan, I really grew. I found a sense of confidence and purpose I never thought I would have in my life.

    It must have been difficult to leave the States.

    Leaving my life in the states was actually the easiest part. So, I was here in Nicaragua when Dylan was born back in 2010 and shortly thereafter I went back to work in the states. I was a field biologist working as an environmental inspector. I made a few trips down to visit on my vacation time, but when Dylan was 2 I had a major falling out with his mom. We lost contact and I just felt like the world was against me. I gave up on trying to be a father, but eventually the stress and emotions caught up with me. Last year I went down to visit after all of those years of no communication. Once I finally reconnected with my son and saw the pain he had been going through all those years not knowing what had happened to his father. Like I said, the decision to leave my life in the states was easy.

    That’s solid. How long do you plan to stay down in Nicaragua?

    Right now, my plan is to live here and put Dylan in an English grade school for the next year or two. It’s the easiest transition for both of us and I enjoy the lifestyle down here. I never thought I’d say this, but raising Dylan in a developing nation like Nicaragua is actually a lot more stress free than being back home in the states. It just gives you perspective on how much we get caught up in the rat race.

    I know you’ve travelled and experience a lot of the Hawaiian culture. Do you see any parallels between your lifestyle you are living now and your time spent in Hawai‘i?

    Definitely. Aloha is the essential element in every ‘ohana. Loving and caring for each other is the glue that holds families together. It’s easy to get sidetracked with all the noise in today’s world, but if we make a concerted effort to come back to these values of ‘ohana, life rewards us. I try to remind myself of that and the rest takes care of itself.

  • September 7, 2017

    Legacy of Lei Making: Meleana Estes

    Interview by: Daniel Ito

    Lei making is deeply rooted in the DNA of Meleana Estes. Her grandmother, Amelia Ana Kaopua Bailey, was a master lei maker, whose craft was widely respected in Hawai‘i. Much like her tutu, Meleana has a following for her haku lei or what Snapchat defines as the “flower power crown.”

    Lei making is not a Millennial fad for the 27-year-old, Native Hawaiian. Rather it’s one of the many talents of this creative. Meleana is also a photo stylist and designer who went to fashion school in New York after graduating from Boston College. When she returned home to Hawai‘i, she rediscovered her passion for lei making. As a result, she is perpetuating her grandma’s legacy while stoking out the next generation on this Hawaiian cultural practice.

    While unpacking from a Kaua‘i trip and repacking for a Colorado, we talked with Meleana about her grandmother and the recent resurgence of the haku lei’s popularity.

    Who taught you how to make a lei?

    My grandmother was a very renowned leimaker in Hawai‘i so I learned from just being with her all the time. Sitting with her and watching her make lei at her house in Mānoa. Helping her at her workshops and when I was younger I would drive her around. I learned how to make leis when I was young, and I would make them on Mei Day and those occasions, but I was much more interested in surfing and playing sports. My sister was the big lei maker because she was a hula dancer. But [lei making] was always around me and apart of me, but I didn’t take on my own style and my own particular interest until five years ago. Moving home from New York I sort of started to feel a responsibility to make a beautiful haku for someone’s birthday. It sort of evolved into something I would do all the time.

    How did living in New York influence your passion for lei making?

     I think that was a cool experience because when I was [in New York] and designing for companies I had a really specific person that I wanted to design for and dress. I realized when I was there that I love fashion, but I really did have a particular customer in mind and definitely my muse has always been Hawai‘i and the Hawai‘i girl. On top of that, I think where the flowers play in is that the essence of this girl is wearing a lei in my mind because that is how I grew up. I always had a lei on my head and I was always adorned by my grandmother.

    Is there a difference between a haku lei and a lei po‘o?

     They are actually interchangeable. “Po‘o” is “head” so a lei po‘o is a “head lei.” A haku lei is a lei made in the traditional style without any thread. There are three different techniques within that term “haku lei.”

    What are these techniques and which do you teach at the workshops?

    The technique I teach is “wili” which is “to wrap” or “wind.” I like that technique personally because I have that control of the flowers.  The other technique is actually called “haku” and “haku” actually means “to braid.” You braid two or more stems of green and flowers that is more the Tahitian style when you see them braiding the ti leaf and adding a flower. That style is super beautiful and I love that, too. Then “hili” is the third style and that is when you just braid one type of string.

    The haku lei is more popular than ever! What would attribute to this resurgence?

    You know what? It’s crazy and I totally agree! You know I hate to say it out loud, but I’m totally going to: I think things like Coachella and other Bohemian trends started bringing attention to the “flower crown.” So I think that the “flower crown” is sort of like a lei po‘o. I think that trend has actually brought a lot of attention to the haku lei because a lot of people are wearing flowers on their head. I think it’s really cool that people don’t just want to wear a flower crown. They want to know how to make something in the traditional way because the flower crowns are actually just made from cardboard. I think the flower crown gets a lot of play and so do the haku lei, but I just love when people want to learn a traditional way.

  • August 29, 2017

    Q&A with Lindsey Higa

    Introducing Lindsey Higa (left), a native Hawaiian with a unique twist on fashion. Lindsey is well known for blending street style with laid-back island vibes, which she uses to inspire followers of her blog Pineapple Ice. We were fortunate enough to collaborate with her on our recent Sneaker Campaign. Let's get to know her! _40A4255_RC_EDIT_01_V1_rgb

     

    How does Hawaii influence your style?

    Living in Hawaii totally influences my style. Our warm weather and casual and relaxed lifestyle calls for breezy and cool clothing on the daily. More than half the time I feel like I live in my bathing suit (which I don't mind), but after living in San Francisco for 6 years it's definitely a challenge to constantly be creative in putting outfits together without being able to layer. I try to stick to the basics, while always staying cool and comfortable!

    Favorite hangout spots/stores? Especially old-school ones related to the shoot.

    Oahu has so many great hangout spots. We spend a lot of our weekends on Waimanalo beach because it's such a breathtaking view. I love picking up fresh poke and poi at the Co-Op and eating it down at the beach.

     

    Where do you draw inspiration? 

    I draw most of my inspiration through social media. I'm constantly on Pinterest and Tumblr trying to keep up with the latest editorials, street style, and trends. My personal style is definitely influenced from the fashions I see abroad.

    What is your favorite everyday OluKai product and dress-up OluKai product?

    Luana is my favorite everyday shoe. I have them in almost every color! They're perfect for when I'm on my feet all day because they're so incredibly comfortable! The 'Upena is my favorite dress up sandal. I have them in the Pewter color which is perfect for night time looks!

    _40A4431_RC_EDIT_01Tell us something we don’t know about you.

    I'm a pretty open book, but if you don't know me well you probably wouldn't know I'm really into yoga. I spend a lot of my time at the studio doing sometimes 2 classes a day. I've been practicing for about 6 years now, and it's definitely been life changing mentally and physically!

    What can you not leave without or what do you take with you every day.

    There's so many things I can't leave the house without! Recently I've started using this line of amazing all natural facial oils from Maui. Because I'm usually hitting the beach or going to yoga, I carry a small bottle in my bag wherever I go so my skin stays hydrated after workouts and the beach!

     

    Thank you, Lindsey!

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  • August 29, 2017

    The Kaimukī Shire

    The Perfect Day in Honolulu Written by Daniel Ito

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    The Kaimukī Shire is a section of urban Honolulu that you can’t necessarily find on a map of O‘ahu, but is a gathering place for creatives, surfers, hippies, designers, and tourists. Although the moniker, coined by younger residents of Kaimukī, conjures images of hipster hobbits, puffing vape pens, sipping coconut water, and stroking their beards at tables outside of Whole Foods, the Shire actually gets its name from an ancient Hawaiian definition of neighborhoods: ahupua‘a.

    Traditionally, each ahupua‘a extended from the mountain to the sea, and was so-called because the boundary was marked by a heap (ahu) of stones surmounted by an image of a pig (puaʻa), or because a pig or other tribute was laid on the altar as tax to the chief. Before Western contact, a Hawaiian could find everything they needed to thrive in their ahupua‘a. And today, the Kaimukī Shire has everything a foodie or millennial could ask for on the weekend: restaurants, libations, nature, culture, shopping, art, and surf.

    The three ahu, or landmarks, that define the Kaimukī Shire are Kahala Mall, the Ala Wai Canal and Pālolo. The heart of the Shire is the town of Kaimukī, whose name translates to “the tea root oven” in English. My wife, Kahina Ito, was born and raised here. I’m originally from Hawai‘i Island, but we’ve been thriving in the Shire together for the past six years. We both work in downtown Honolulu, but our perfect day is close to home in the Shire because it contains everything we need to be happy. It’s best to heed the advice of the kanaka maoli (native Hawaiians), so let us show you some Aloha by showing you around the Shire.

      7:00AM

    Hawai‘i is one of the most stunning places in the world and you don’t want to miss any of its natural beauty by sleeping in. So wake up early and do something active. I’m a surfer so I like to start my perfect day with a “dawn patrol” at Diamond Head crater. Diamond Head is great because it has the full gamut of surf breaks, from beginner waves all the way up to more advanced offerings. The Hawaiians named the crater Lē‘ahi, which means “forehead of the yellow-fin tuna,” because of the way it looks from the ocean. If you’re not a wave slider then go for a swim at Kaimana Beach or run around Kapi‘olani Park. Or if you’re looking for an envy-inducing Instagram post and a leg-burning workout, then hike Diamond Head State Monument.

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      8:30AM

    Now that you’ve built up an appetite walk east on Monsarrat Avenue, right next to Diamond Head, for breakfast. There is a plethora of options, ranging from healthy to hearty.

    Want a plant-based breaky? Hit up Banán or Diamond Head Health Cove Bar for an acaí bowl. Looking for a more traditional American breakfast? Go to Diamond Head Market and Grill for a fried rice, breakfast meat, eggs and an exceptionally tasty blueberry scone. My wife and I usually go to ARS Café for avocado toast and cortados—it’s a nice spot to read the newspaper and features a monthly art exhibit.

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      10:00AM

    Every Saturday there is arguably the best farmer’s market in Honolulu at Kapi‘olani Community College, known for the quality of its produce and variety of locally-produced food and drink. If you’re here on the right day, walk east on Monsaratt Avenue until you reach it. Pick up some mangos from Ma’o Organic farms, and some poi lavosh from La Tour Cafe. Top the lavosh with honey from All Hawaiian Honey, and you’ve got yourself a stellar mid-day snack.

    Be sure to visit the Little Hands Hawai‘i booth and cop some sunblock. It’s the only organic sunblock that is locally-produced, made from natural products and it does not damage coral reefs (commercial sunblocks contain ingredients that can stress marine phytoplankton, and thus the reefs.)

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      11:00AM

    Good thing you got the sunblock and snacks because it’s time to go on a canoe ride. Stop at Fort Ruger Market to pick up a six-pack and head to the Kahala Resort & Hotel for a sailing canoe tour (exactly what it sounds like) with Holokino Hawai‘i. This tour is owned and operated by my friend Austin Kino, who is an apprentice navigator on Hōkūle‘a, a sailing canoe similar to those used by the ancient Polynesians. You’ll enjoy Captain Kino’s explanation of ahupua’a from the ocean, and his ability to point out the variety of seabirds that were once used to find signs of land by Polynesian navigators.

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      1:00PM

    After getting off the wa‘a—canoe—head to Haili’s Hawaiian Foods on the corner of Kapahulu and Palani Avenues. This family-owned lunch spot has been in business since 1950, and their Hawaiian food is so ono (delicious) that they catered my wedding. Share a Big Kahuna plate with rice and be sure to order a side of poi and dried aku—skipjack tuna—as well. You’re in for some major deliciousness here: kalua pig, pulled pork that is slow cooked until it is moist and savory; chicken long rice, like the Hawaiian version of chicken noodle soup, and lomi salmon, a Hawaiian love child of ceviche and salsa, without the lime. The plate also includes poke—my favorite is with ahi—and haupia, which is like a coconut jello.

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      2:30PM

    By now you’ve gotten your exercise, laid down a solid base of sustenance, and might have even already started drinking. Now it’s time to really get after that afternoon buzz. Head to the new Maui Brewing Co. brewpub on Kalākaua Avenue for the best locally-produced craft beer in Hawai‘i.

    My all-time favorite is the Bikini Blonde, which is like a tastier version of a light beer that you can drink all day without becoming sleepy. One of the coolest parts of living in Hawai‘i is that prime time on the U.S. East Coast is Hawai‘i’s afternoon, so you might be able to catch a game at Maui Brewing Co. When you find a favorite craft beer buy a crowler—a canned version of a growler that’s actually canned at the bar—before you leave.

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      6:00PM

    All you need now is a place to watch the sunset while you drink your crowler (bet you are going to wish you could say those words again when you get back home). Head toward Diamond Head from Kalākaua Avenue and stop at Makalei Beach Park. Keep the crowler on the down-low—drinking isn’t technically allowed on the beaches in Hawai’i, though many do it anyway—with a brown bag or towel and enjoy the Hawaiian sunset.

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      7:30PM

    Chef Ed Kenney is a living legend in the Kaimukī Shire, and along with his business partner and fellow chef, Dave Caldiero, is a champion of farm-to-table dining. Depending on how big your dinner party is, you should go to Town or Mud Hen Water. Kenney and Caldiero own both. The latter is for dinner parties of six or more, and the former is a more intimate experience for smaller parties. Whatever you decide to order for an entrée at Town be sure to start with the pa‘i‘ai and cured opelu. Thank me later.

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      9:00PM

    After dinner head over to 12th Avenue for dessert. If you have a sweet tooth then go to Via Gelato, but my wife and I suggest drinking your dessert at 12th Avenue Grill. They have an ever-changing menu of craft cocktails and a late-night menu that is all kinds of radness—I’m partial to the meatloaf melt. Order any cocktail made with Pau Vodka, which is made from pineapples on neighboring Maui.

      11:00PM

    If you still have the energy to party head here to Karaoke Hut, known to locals affectionately as K-Hut. If you’re with at least four people try to book a karaoke room, where you can sing whatever you want without judgement.

    Although many people think the word “aloha” is a satisfactory translation of “good bye,” the indigenous Hawaiian language doesn’t actually have such a word. Rather than saying “good bye,” we say “a hui hou,” which means ’till we meet again;” Hawaiians believed that you would always see someone down the line in one form or the other. I bid you a heartfelt “a hui hou” from the Kaimukī Shire and hope this slice of paradise has found a place in your heart like the one it has in mine.

  • August 29, 2017

    Bar Leather Apron Aims to be a Destination for World Class Cocktails

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    Photo courtesy of Tom Park

    Written by Daniel Ito

    There is something magical about a great, handcrafted cocktail. When done properly the alchemy of premium alcohol and ingredients make an intoxicating concoction. Combine this with an enchanting atmosphere of muted-lighting, exotic wood furniture and intimate seating for only 25-30 people, and you have the magic of Bar Leather Apron.

    The magicians behind this new craft cocktail destination in downtown Honolulu, which officially opened yesterday, is Justin Park and Tom Park. Despite having the same last name they are not related, but both bring the experiences of their travels around the world and a mutual desire to make Bar Leather Apron a unique and excellent experience.

    “Our whole thing was to create a culmination of all our travels ... we took what we thought was the best of each place and we’re trying to box it up in one place," says Justin Park, who is the former bar manager of the popular bar and café in Chinatown, The Manifest. "There's a lot of European style cocktail influences, a lot of classic-style cocktail influences, a lot of Japanese-service oriented aspects that we’re doing, so [Bar Leather Apron] is a worldly bar." 

    In 2012, Justin was awarded the honor of creating the “Best Mai Tai” and two years later won United States Bartenders Guild’s Shake It Up.  “My whole thing isn’t to list the most obscure liqueurs, bourbons, whiskies and scotches from around the world ... That’s not the point of what we’re doing. Food will be served with our cocktails and that is kind of a Japanese thing. So throughout your drinking experience there will be little food things.”

    In addition to the appetizers that will be served with cocktails like the “BLA Old Fashioned” and “The Brooklyn,” the word “bar” in the name is an “homage” to Japan says Tom, who is also the CEO and founder of Leather Soul, a high-end, men’s shoe boutique located in downtown Honolulu and the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. According to Tom, the small cocktails bars in the Land of the Rising Sun have the word “bar” in front of the rest of the name. While the Park duo draws inspiration from Japan, Bar Leather Apron is designed to be something that Hawaii can be proud of. 

    “One of our goals is to do something really special for Hawaii," Tom says. "With Leather Soul I really wanted to have a world-class men’s shoe store in Hawaii, and that’s something that motivates me in everything I do. With Bar Leather Apron, I really want to have a world-class experience, world-class cocktail bar in Hawaii, where everybody in the world is like, ‘Wow, one of the best bars in the world is in Hawaii.’

  • August 16, 2017

    Hōkūleʻa’s Mahalo Hawaiʻi Sail to Launch at Honolua Bay

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    On August 16, 2017, voyaging canoes Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia will depart the Marine Education Training Center (METC) at Sand Island to begin the Mahalo, Hawai’i Sail. The first stop will be at Honolua Bay, Maui, where Hōkūleʻa first launched for her maiden voyage in 1976 and where she will now begin to mahalo and mālama Hawai’i with a planting of 4,000 koa seedlings as part of a series of events in West Maui. After the Honolua Bay visit, the canoes will continue to approximately 40 additional ports and connect with nearly 80 communities throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

    The Mahalo, Hawai’i Sail will give Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) an opportunity to thank Hawaiʻi’s people, bring Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia home to all of Hawaiʻi, share lessons learned from the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage and deepen the organization’s connection and understanding of the important work being done here in the islands to care for the earth. During the port visits, PVS will engage with schools and organizations through outreach events, service projects, crew presentations and canoe tours.

    “Now that we have returned from our three-year voyage around the world, we are looking forward to reconnecting with and thanking the people of Hawai’i,” said Nainoa Thompson, president of PVS. “It’s also time now to discover and shine the light on what people and organizations are doing to turn inspiration into action for the betterment of our island home and the earth. This first engagement planned at Honolua Bay and Waokele ʻo Honolua by the West Maui community is an example of what we are hoping to support during this sail,” he added.

    Honolua Bay was chosen as the first stop on the Mahalo, Hawai’i Sail because it was the location where the Hōkūleʻa’s maiden voyage to Tahiti was launched in 1976. In partnership with the Maui Land and Pineapple Company, Inc. through the conservation department of the Pu’u Kukui Watershed Preserve, State of Hawaiʻi DLNR, The Nature Conservancy of Hawaiʻi and Kamehameha Schools Maui, Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia crew members will be engaging with schools and the community in West Maui where they are scheduled to conduct presentations and canoe tours (see detailed schedule below). On Saturday, August 19, crew members will join the community and participate in a project to plant 4,000 koa trees and thousands of other native plants in the Pu’u Kukui Watershed Preserve ma kai conservation area. At one time, koa trees were used to make voyaging canoes, but today there are few of these native trees remaining which are large enough to do so.

    Honolua Bay Engagement Schedule: *All dates and times schedule to change

    • Wednesday, August 16, 11 p.m. – Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia depart METC at Sand Island
    • Thursday, August 17, 4 p.m. – Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia arrive at Honolua Bay
    • Thursday, August 17, 6 p.m. – Mālama Honua Voyage sharing by crew members of Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia at Kamehameha Schools Maui, Keōpūolani Hale (Free and Open to the public)
    • Friday, August 18, 9:30 – 12:30 p.m. – Kamehameha Schools Maui visit with Hōkūleʻa crew and planting
    • Saturday, August 19, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Planting of 4,000 koa trees and thousands of other native plants at Pu’u Kukui Watershed Preserve ma kai conservation area (limited parking available)
    • Saturday, August 19, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. – Public canoe tours, Honolua Bay Ramp
    • Sunday, August 20, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Public canoe tours, Honolua Bay Ramp
    • TBD– Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia depart Honolua Bay

    About Pu’u Kukui Watershed Preserve: Pu’u Kukui Watershed Preserve is the largest private nature preserve in the state of Hawaiʻi. Extending across more than 9,000 acres from ma uka to ma kai of Mauna Kahālāwai on Mauiʻs West side, it is home to some of the rarest endangered flora and fauna in the islands. This pristine area is a vital water source for Mauiʻs community and one of the wettest spots on earth. Most recently, under new management, the ancestral wisdom of Hawaiian elders has been laid as the foundation for conservation efforts in the preserve; providing a culturally sensitive and informed approach to managing the thriving native ecosystem of Puʻu Kukui. Conservation endeavors include non-native invasive species control, weed control, monitoring, research and most importantly protecting rare species.

    Article courtesy of www.hokulea.com and www.puukukui.org

  • June 21, 2017

    Cliff's Notes: A Mexican Tale

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    Interview by: Cliff Kapono (@cliff_kapono)

    Photos by: Nash Howe (@nashowe) and Dan Lorch (@thesaltygiant_)

    Many years ago, I remember sitting at the water’s edge and my father telling that where the land meets the sea is where we feel most at home. “We are ocean people. This is how it was, how it is, and how it will be as long as we don’t forget where we come from,” he said. At the time, I didn’t know how impactful these words would be on my life and how knowing where I come from would help me stay rooted in all aspects of life. As I travel, often times very far from the sands of my birth, I am always humbled to meet those who share similar beliefs. Marc Chavez is one such individual, who believes that without having a strong understanding of one’s past, it is very difficult to improve towards a better future. Having met Marc many years ago at an indigenous youth camp in San Diego, I was more than overwhelmed when he invited me to the home of his ancestors. The water was warm, the drinks were cold, but it was the hospitality that will remain unforgettable. Between the native food, culture and surf, we were able to catch up about what brought this once “lost” LA boy south of the border. It was only then did I realize just how volatile things were in the region.

    Cliff Kapono: Bruddah Marc! Thank you for inviting me here. Where are we anyways?

    Marc Chavez: We are in the State of Michoacan’s Northern Coast, the Aquilo District. Michoacan has had a bad rap for a good minute, as Cartel activity is legendary in this area. Michoacan, particularly these areas, is still referred to by other Mexicans as the “wild west.” In a way its kind of remote part of the coast, where there are no major hotels or resorts. Here there are just very small towns and Indigenous villages. The capitol of Michoacan is 5-7 hours away by bus and inland.

    These are the Nahuatl beach communities. This is the area I was drawn to set up my place of study – proximity to the coastal Nahuatl communities of Northern Michoacan.

    To my knowledge, Purepecha and Nahuatl Indigenous People make up the majority of the population in most of this region.

    During the Aztec/Mexica Empire, Michoacan has and continues to have a long reputation of resistance to imperialism and taxing empires. Purepechas of Michoacan also known as Tarasco Indians, were of the few tribes who successfully resisted and held off imperial movement by the Mexica empire and later by the European colonial movements.

    It’s a fascinating history and I encourage everyone to research more on all the facts, battles and triumphs of these resilient people. I believe we all need to bring pieces of the story to light, and many are often buried and not found in books. That’s kind of why I am here, to unearth my roots.

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    That’s awesome. How is the community dynamic here?

    I have only been here for some months, so I can only share what I have been told by local people and seen with my own eyes. When I first arrived to this area, I was warned to stay out. My mom and others kept sharing stories of kidnapping, violence and drug cartels. These stories are true, but what I “discovered” during my short residence has been even more surprising!

    After years of Cartel control, extortion and violence, the Indigenous people of the area took back their region. It was basically thru force, inspired from being fed up and drawing on their historic resistance. It was lead by a man whose brother was shot by the cartel for not paying his taxes in the middle of the day. This last act of violence was the “straw the broke the burros back,” so to speak. The brother of the victim, instantly retaliated, killing the thugs on the spot and without fear, took up arms to lead the eradication of the Cartel and all its affiliates residing in pockets of this area. They literally took up arms, searched for and removed every known cartel member of the area. Again, these are mostly small towns and rural villages.

    This indigenous resistance also kicked out the National and state police that was known to also be in cooperation with the Cartel. National police and military usually are not from these areas, and do not have vested interest in the community. Similar to many of the police in the urban areas of the U.S.

    Abuse of the community, its women, business owners and assistance to the cartel, made police un-trustworthy and represented more harm than protection.  So the indigenous people held resistance and declared themselves as the protectors of their own community. They took up arms, vehicles and houses left from the extradited cartel. They re-commissioned these resources to a new Community Police Force.

    To make a long story short, they held resistance with the state and national government and demanded to be recognized and supported. Over the last 3 years, meetings led by mediators avoided head to head battles with the National and State police. The Indigenous Community Police Force would not back down, closing main highways if needed, and strengthening a far reaching network of community watch.  Organizing an old school form of community watch, with eyes on everything, swift reporting of strangers, and took their goal of protecting the community very seriously.

    It took time for much of the community to even get used to it as they were under terror and control by the cartel for so long. Most had even closed their businesses since they did not want to be bothered anymore with paying tax to the organized criminals. Folks wanted to appear as plain as possible, with no appearance of wealth. So the small towns slowly became without the little “mom and pop” business, which rural Mexico is known for.

    I was told that folks, for the first year or so after the cartel was kicked out were still in disbelief that it was real. Many could not believe the Cartel bullies were gone, so slowly there has been an increase in vitality and business re-opening. It’s a vigor that is slowly coming back.

    I see the Comunitarios [the Community Police] caring for the community. I am like damn, that’s the way it should be! In many parts of the world, the police are not your friend anymore. You don’t feel protected. In this case, you see them protecting the youth, accompanying educational fieldtrips in plain clothes, responding quickly, etc. Its like the light of a new day, dawn of a good era. It feels different.

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    That’s heavy. Why would you come all the way down here in such a turbulent time?

    Why am I here? That’s the best question. “It’s like why are we all here?” Or maybe why has it took me so long to get here to find my family, is a better question. Well, much of it is due to the reputation this area has had, the violence in Mexico, and stories of violence has kept me away. Also, I had a language barrier for most of my life, as I did not speak Spanish, and my family in Los Angeles was dis-connected to my family in Mexico.

    In Mexico, I focused on a geographical area that would be within 2 hours from my mom’s birthplace in Colima. After getting some leads on waves along the coastal areas, I set out to go check this area. Remember, I knew nothing of the Community Police and only of Cartel stories. My mom was on the phone with me as I was driving south towards Michoacan telling me all the stories of kidnapping which here friends recently shared with here. So lets say I proceeded with caution and yes a little fear.

    Long story short, I ended up setting up my residence along the coast. It was located between some great surf breaks that are exposed to all swells and one rarely, if ever, sees a gringo tourist. It was kind of surreal.

    Later I find out that “coincidently” I had set up residence 20 minutes south of the actual place both my Grandfather was born, raised, and 20 minutes north of where my Grandmother was born.  At the time, this was totally un be-known to me that I had did this. This realization came months later, after I began tracking down both my grandfather's side of the family. And just until last week, I just learned the village from where my grandmother was from was in the exact same district where I was living. Like whoa.

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    It seemed like fear was holding you back at first, but once you let that go things ended up just as they were suppose to.

    Exactly. I decided I wanted to be close to my roots. Get there and follow the vibe, get some waves, and continue my study of indigenous foods and ways. What I “discovered” was very validating to my intuition and identity.

    It was invigorating to re-connect with Mexican culture. It felt strange, yet so familiar at the same time. It was festive and I was buzzing.  A month after I arrived, I called my mother down and my son (who was living with his mom in California) down to visit. When they arrived, we began to search Colima City for her birthplace and seek out family. My mom does not have the best memory, but we took to the streets as three generations – my mom, my son and me. It was dope.

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    How has founding a Native Youth Program help you in this search for your past?

    I began Young Native Scholars in 2000 after being hired by the University in San Diego and later it morphed into InterTribal Youth and now morphing again into Native Like Water. It was based on how, I as a youth, was turned off from boring curriculum.

    So, for the past 17 years, with ITY, I have been leading these super immersion programs. Leading and inspiring youth to find their path, be ok with their identity and release the burden of guilt that they often feel in regards to their disconnect to school.

    In this whole journey of my program, I was perhaps just trying to make it right for myself. A reflection, a desire, a need to heal this dysfunctional trauma I experienced in my early education.

    Your journey is really inspiring and it is an honor to participate first hand. Reminds me a lot of how we think about things in Hawai‘i.

    You know, in doing the ITY program for 15 years, I always knew we needed to know more about the Pacific Maritime Story. ITY needed to reach out to those who know more than us about this great body of water. The program needed to learn more about our Hawaiian relatives, and in doing I knew we would learn about ourselves.

    Hawai‘i was a revelation on many ways. I was taken back and in tears with the songs, community values and affirmation of our natural state of being. The “new” educational systems like the Hawaii Cultural Immersion Schools, Polynesian Voyaging Society, Na Kama Kai, Mana Maoli Music Education, and so many others have shown me so much.

    In this crazy world of confusion and uncertainty we must find the guiding light, the stars that will take us home. Without a doubt, given the colonial history, resistance, and expression of culture, Hawai‘i is in the best position to teach and guide us in the right direction.

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    To learn more about Inter Tribal Youth and Native like Water youth program visit @intertribalyouth or visit www.nativelikewater.org

  • June 13, 2017

    Honolulu-Based Artist Kamea Hadar

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    Homecoming: Hōkūle‘a, Hadar and Hina. We talk about origins, inspiration and connecting with the Honolulu-based artist. Interview by Daniel Ikaika Ito

    There has always been a connection between Honolulu’s Kamea Hadar and Mālama Honua, the worldwide voyage of Hōkūle‘a. He painted the hatch covers of Hōkūle‘a, the cabin of Hikianali‘a and a mural of Papa Mau Piailug at Pow! Wow! Hawai‘i! 2014. In May, Kamea smashed the largest mural to date in his career: a 130-feet tall depiction of the Hawaiian goddess, Hina, on the 14-story Hālawa View Apartments. This piece is dedicated to the homecoming of Hōkūle‘a, which will end its four-year voyage of circumnavigating the Earth using traditional Polynesian navigation techniques in June. We caught up with Kamea while he was preparing for Pow! Wow! Israel and he was on a homecoming himself.

    Daniel Ikaika Ito: Where are you right now?

    Kamea Hadar: I’m a little town outside of Jerusalem where I was born and I grew up–technically I grew up mostly in Hawai‘i–but I grew up here till I was 4. I am currently preparing for Pow! Wow! Israel and I’m organizing all the logistics before the crew comes in.

    How monumental was your last commissioned piece in the grand scheme of your career?

    I completed my biggest mural to date: it’s a 14-story behemoth! It’s about a 130-feet tall, a depiction of the Hawaiian goddess, Hina. It’s inspired by Hōkūle‘a and the worldwide voyage, Mālama Honua and their return home from circumnavigating the globe.

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    What was the inspiration for this massive project?

    This project, like many of my projects, had many wow-this-is-meant-to-be-moments. For example, I was approached by Pacific Development Group to see if I could paint their building. They took me to the wall on the initial site visit and up to the roof. I was looking out from this really, really tall building over all of Pearl Harbor and I started thinking of the Arizona Memorial, all of the sailors, Mālama Honua and Hōkūle‘a. I could really feel the sense of place. So I asked them, “what if I paint the whole building?” And they said, “yeah!” Then I said that I painted a series of projects for Hōkūle‘a when they left and when they come back [to Hawai‘i] it will be this amazingly perfect timing so it just kind of worked out that way. Then when I was thinking about who would be a good person to model and use as reference I was scouring the Internet, asking around and making phone calls. All of these different routes kept taking me back to the same person, Mahina Garcia, who at least in my opinion, looks like a real-life Hawaiian goddess. Her skin. Her face. Her build. She just has that kind of presence when you meet her. And you, Ito, hooked me up and connected me with her like the many connections you’ve made. I mean you’re the one that connected me with Jasper [Wong] originally when we started this whole thing.

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    Yes! I got that recorded and I’ve been waiting years for this. Nah, I’m just joking.

    (Laughs) No, no, man. I specifically remember that I was in my truck, parked outside of [our friend’s] house on Young Street. And, I remember you specifically telling me while I was parking. And you’re like, “yeah, Jasper is doing this thing with artists and you’re an artist too and he wants to blackout all of the pieces and it’s super weird.” Then you’re like, “yeah the only thing is that he is having a problem finding a house [for the artists] to stay in and he’s thinking of a big beach house on the North Shore or something. Then I was like, “dude, my family just built this big house and that is what we wanted it for.” Then you were like, “I’ll connect you with Jasper.” Then Jasper literally called me five minutes later and was like, “you remember me from high school?”

    (Laughs) And the rest is street art history. I just want to connect cool people with cool people.

    I like to do that as well. I totally appreciate when other people are the same way because you can call them and they’ll be like, “this will be awesome.” You can tell when those kinds of connections are one plus one equals three. If you connect these two people they will be more than just two people: it’s like one plus one equals 100. Or, one plus one equals infinity, it just depends on who the two people are and what the connection is.

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    Totally! Who are some of the people you connected with to make this project happen?

    Whenever it comes time to credit everyone that has to do with a mural or any project the list can go on and on, but it always comes back to the amazing support that my family has had for me since I was a little kid. The list goes on forever, but I guess the short list for this mural is Pacific Development Group, who owns the building, supported me and initially reached out to me. Polynesian Voyaging Society, Hōkūle‘a, Bruce Blankenfeld, Nainoa Thompson, Sonya, Heidi and basically everyone involved with PVS. They are such positive people and they’re just trying to do what I’m doing: we just want to leave the world a more beautiful place than how we found it. It’s really nice to work with like-minded people. Austin Kino is a good friend of mine and he’s always very helpful. You, of course, and then, OluKai, who, since I first met them has always been incredibly supportive with all my projects, their ears and hearts have always been open. They just listen, soak it in and help and support. I couldn’t ask for a better partner in all that I do than OluKai. City Mill helped recently with supplies for Pow! Wow! and for this mural in particular. Mahina donated her beautiful face. Mason Rose helped me take the reference photos of her. Kūha‘o Zane helped advise on the technical side with the kind of lei po‘o that he would make if he was dancing hula that had to do with the goddess, Hina. Prime always advises me on all my projects and imagery. He took me into the lo‘i, we worked there, kind of thought about it and advised me on all the symbolism. Cory Taum was my assistant on the whole project and he was not any less scared than me going up. And, I went up because I had to because I put my name on it and I had to overcome my fears and he did it just to help me fulfill my dream. I’m just grateful that he did what he did.

    Why was important to paint the Hawaiian goddess Hina and how does it relate to the homecoming of Hōkūle‘a?

     In Hawaiian culture, a lot of the legends are based on an oral history so there are always many interpretations and versions of all the different gods and stories. In a nutshell, Hina was said to be the goddess of the moon and stars, obviously the moon and stars are incredibly important to the navigators on Hōkūle‘a. Hina was said to help guide sailors on their voyages around the ocean so I felt that she was a very fitting image, holding up the moon and guiding Hōkūle‘a home.

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    *Follow more of Kamea Hadar on instagram @kameahadar

  • May 5, 2017

    Cliff's Notes: Ahuna Hana

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    Words by: Cliff Kapono

    Photos by: Cliff Kapono (@cliff_kapono) and Jake Marote (jake_of_all_trades)

    Very distant from the hustle and bustle of O‘ahu’s North Shore lies the quaint working town of Hilo, Hawai‘i. A place where even time seems to take its time. The lush countryside and fertile soil has kept this tropical safehaven a valued resource to so many in Hawa‘i for so long. On the Easternmost shores of the Hawaiian islands also resides an eclectic community of creatives that have managed to carve their native upbringings into their everyday lives. Take case in point, Brandan Ahuna. Full time lifeguard, full time dad, full time surfer and most recently full time shaper. For over a decade now, we’ve been on countless adventures, scored amazing waves and experienced some of the most incredible places Polynesia has to offer. On a recent trip home and after riding one of his alai‘a surfboards, I had a chance to sit down and ask Brandan a few questions about his next chapter in life as a wood craftsman. It was just enough time to check out his shop, watch him finish a few boards and convince him to come with me on another mission.

    Questions:

    CK: Bruddah Brans, you always seem to be on the go. Do you even sleep?

    BA: Sleep what is that? Nah, average at least eight hours of sleep a day, but it all depends on the day. Most times, I feel I live life through a pattern. I wake up, get the kids ready for school, rush to work on projects or head into work. I finish, pick up the keiki [children] from school and take them to sports or to the beach. I end the day by making dinner and making sure homework is done. Overall, my day to day lately has been very busy.

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    CK: How do you fit time in for everything each day?

    BA: You know I really don't know... I think it comes down to prioritizing what's most important I guess. Kuleana [responsibility]. Being raised most of my life by my grandparents, I was brought up old school. So yeah I would say being Hawaiian helps me balance everything I do in life. I was taught that ‘Ohana [family] is the most important, that comes first. Next hana [work], which for me is like the security to provide for my ‘Ohana. Everything else comes after. That is what makes me happy and I find that if you're happy with your life, it definitely makes things much easier.Alaia_1Alaia_3

    CK: Tell me more about alai‘a. When did you first ride one and what was that feeling like?

    BA: Me and a few friends back in high school decided to make ourselves alai‘a. We went to Home Depot and bought some shelving, went back home and without much knowledge started to cut out a template. Next we shaped the nose and rails. We didn't have much to tools. I think we had a jigsaw, orbital sander and a file. Anyways after it was all said and done we tested them out at Honoli‘i and ended up catching some waves on them. To be honest though, I wasn't really impressed with what we made.

    CK: So how did you get back into it?

    BA: It wasn't till my friend Doug Powdrell, really good craftsman, came up to me one day while I was at work and asked me if I've ever ridden an alai‘a. I told him I tried it once, and before I could tell him that it sucked, he asked me if I would like to sample one that he built. So I said sure why not. A few days later he brought down his alai‘a. My first look at it without a doubt was WOW! It looks so beautiful to the point that I didn't even want to ride it. I look nothing like the one I shaped years ago. He had concave, beveled rails and it definitely felt a lot lighter. He said he's built them before, but only as wall hangers for friends and has never ridden one. So he was curious to see if they really worked. Later that day I headed to Honoli‘i anxious to try it. As I pulled it out of the truck and made my way to the water people couldn't help but to gaze and complement it. when I finally jumped into the water, I was amazed how buoyant it was for a piece of wood. It felt good. It felt natural. It was tricky to paddle, but low and behold the first wave I stood up, the thing went so fast I could barely control it. This was on a knee high wave must you know. I rode that wave so far in that when I kicked out, an instant jolt of happiness hit me! All I did was go straight, but for some reason I felt so stoked like I was reborn or something. I was instantly hooked.

    Over the next week, I rode that alai‘a. I was addicted. I rode it so much that it was starting to break. Splitting at the tail. I didn’t know that a friend of mine was taking pictures of me and took the board back with some of the pictures from my sessions.

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    Doug couldn't believe the pictures. He said he was blown away that I was actually surfing his alai‘a. I felt bad that the board was breaking because it was so beautiful, but he said "No, no, that's good, we can fix this. That's why I wanted you to ride it, so we can work out the bugs." He said don't worry and that he would take it home and bring it back when it's finished fixing it. I mentioned to him "eh Doug, maybe you should put a tail block on it to prevent it from splitting" he looked at me and said that's a great idea and he would do that. To make a long story short, he ended up giving me that board as a gift and a few more after too. I was very gracious, but something inside of me was trying to tell me something. I needed to make one for myself. I wanted to feel what it would be like to make one with my own hands and then to surf it. And so that's where it all started.

    CK: Woah. I didn’t know Doug had such an influential role is resparking your fire to shape again. What is the process like of making these unique surfboards?

    BA: Since I don't own a mill, I buy my blanks from businesses who sell them paulownia in particular. Then I choose one of my many designs that I have depending on what style and shape I want. Once the template is drawn out, I cut it with a jigsaw. Then I step back and take a look at it, reading the wood and determining what will be the top and what will be the bottom. Next I measure out the rails and the bevel in the nose, then carefully start carving away. I use block planes for shaping. When carving the contours on the bottom, I usually stick to a single concave out the back. Once that process is finished I start to sand. I'll start with 80 grit and work my way all the way to 260 grit. Then I rub on a coat of linseed oil, and it's pretty much finished. I also do custom work, which includes installing tail blocks and/or inlays depending on what the person wants. Typically I use gorilla glue for that stuff. My alai‘a can be 100% organic if I ship it out of one piece of wood and not apply anything to it.

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    CK: Wow. That seems like a lot of work.

    BA: It is, but I really enjoy creating things for me and for other people. I love the whole process of moving from a vision to an idea, the process and all the way to the end result. It really makes me appreciate the craft. You gotta wanna do it with love and for all the right reasons. As craftsman we put a lot of positivity and aloha into what we build. We create a story behind everything we make. I highly encouraging people to build their own alai‘a and am always offering to help, or to share my experiences.

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    CK: That’s epic. Not many people can say when they are given something, they want to do the same thing for others.

    BA: There's always a lesson to be learned. As Hawaiians we understand that if you take you have to give back. It's a healthy way of living. That's how I was taught and that's the way I will teach. Anybody can buy a craft, but to make one yourself... only then will you really appreciate it.

    ahuna

    *Follow more of Brandan Ahuna on instagram @ahuna_hana

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