With the water below a bridge, Mānoa, Kona, Oʻahu, April 22, 2021. Courtesy Drew Kahuʻāina Broderick.
E maka‘akala mau ka hea manu¹
Drew Kahuʻāina Broderick
Ua kupanaha nō ho‘i, ua e kala nō ho‘i kēia, leka mai nei ko‘u makuahine, ‘o Maile, ia‘u: ʻHe mana‘o nō e no‘ono‘o ai. E ho‘omana‘o ‘oe i ka lāhui... E ho‘omana‘o i ke one hānau.’ Ua ho‘ohui ‘ia mai kekahi pepa kumuhana, ‘o ke po‘omana‘o, ‘o “Carving a Hawaiian Aesthetic,” ua kākau ‘ia e ka haku mele a kākau a ho‘oponopono puke, ‘o Māhealani Dudoit (1954 – 2002), ua pa‘i ‘ia ma ka puka mua loa ‘ana o ʻŌiwi: A Native Hawaiian Journal – He ‘oia mau nō kākou (1998). ‘O Māhealani kekahi o ka po‘e ho‘okumu o ia puke me kekahi hoa paipai ‘imi ho‘ona‘auao, ‘o ka haku mele, ‘o ku‘ualoha ho‘omanawanui, no ka ho‘onui aku i ka ho‘olaha mana‘o ‘ana o nā Kānaka ‘Ōiwi, ko lākou ho‘omohala mana‘o ‘ana, ko lākou leo, a me kā lākou mau hana hō‘ike‘ike no‘eau i mea pa‘i ‘ia me ka mālama pono.
He mo‘olelo ho‘ohāli‘ali‘a, ho‘ōla, a hō‘oia nō ho‘i ka pepa kumuhana, ‘o “Carving a Hawaiian Aesthetic,” a he mo‘olelo paipai no ka ho‘omau ‘ana. He kumuhana ko‘ihonua ia o ka po‘e ho‘opuka hana no‘eau, ka po‘e ho‘opa‘a ‘imi ho‘ona‘auao, a me ka po‘e ho‘opaipai mana‘o—ka po‘e i hō‘oni ‘ia e ka lāhui ʻe ho‘one‘e aku i ka lāhui ma kekahi ala.’² Ua kākau ‘ia kēia pepa, iā ia ma loko o ka papa mua loa i ho‘okumu ‘ia ma luna o ka hana no‘eau hō‘ike‘ike a a‘o ‘ia me ka mana‘o ka po‘e Hawai‘i ma loko o ke Ke‘ena Art and Art History ma ke Kulanui o Hawai‘i ma Mānoa, a ua mohala kēia pepa a Māhealani i ka wā like nō me kāna mea hana no‘eau mua loa, ‘o ʻcontemporary Hawaiian art,’ he ‘ahu ‘ula i kapa ‘ia, ‘o mo‘okū‘auhau (ʻaʻohe lā) i hana ‘ia no ka papa.
Ua ho‘okumu ‘ia ka hana ‘ia o mo‘okū‘auhau ma luna o ka ‘ahu ‘ula o kahiko, ua ikaika a ‘ālohilihi nā waiho‘olu‘u, a he hō‘ike‘ike mana‘o kū‘oko‘a o ka po‘e Kānaka o ka ‘āina, ua ‘ohi ‘ia nā hulu manu he lau a he mano o ka ‘ahu ‘ula mai nā kūpuna manu mai me ka no‘eau loa—‘o ka ‘i‘iwi ‘oe, ka ‘apapane, ka ‘ō‘ō, a me ka mamo—a ‘uo ‘ia ā pa‘a ma ka ‘uo, ‘oko‘a ka ‘uo me ka wiliwili ‘ana, a nāki‘i ‘ia ma luna o ka ‘upena nae i hana ‘ia i ke kaula olonā. Oli ‘ia ke oli ma ka nāki‘i ‘ana i kēlā kēia ‘uo ma luna o ka nae, a lilo ka ‘ahu ‘ula he pale no ka mea nāna e hō‘a‘ahu.³
‘O kekahi mana‘o o kēia mau mea makamae, ‘o ia ho‘i kēia mau pale ma waena o nā ao like ‘ole, ‘o ka luku ‘ana, ka make lehulehu, a me ka pilihua o ka mo‘olelo o ka lāhui. I ka hapa hope o ke kenekulia ‘umi kumamāiwa, ‘oiai Ko Hawai‘i Pae ‘Āina i ‘īloli ai i kona huliau pa‘akikī loa, ua ho‘oneoneo ‘ia ka ‘āina, a ua pi‘i ka ho‘okūkū ‘ana, ka haluku ‘ana, a me ka ma‘i laulaha. Ma muli o kēia pilikia hui ‘ia me nā koi o nā mākeke o ‘Eulopa a me ‘Amelika, ua hele ā emi loa nā ‘ano manu like ‘ole. Ma waena o nā ‘ano manu maoli like ‘ole i ho‘omau mai ā puni Ko Hawai‘i Pae ‘Āina, ua pau he ‘elua hapa kolu o lākou ā mau loa aku.
Ua ‘oko‘a nā mea i hana ‘ia ai ‘o mo‘okū‘auhau, a ‘oko‘a ka hana ‘ana, ‘a‘ole like me ka hana ‘ana a nā kūpuna, ua hana ‘ia ‘o mo‘okū‘auhau i ka hau, ka paniana, ke kapa uliuli ikaika i hana lima ‘ia, nā ‘āpana pepa me ka ‘ōlelo a me ke ki‘i i pa‘i ‘ia ma luna, a me ka lau iwi hakahaka i ‘ohi ‘ia mai uka mai o ka wao nahele me kona hoa. “Ma loko o kēia ‘ahu ‘ula, puana ‘ia nā mo‘olelo o ke ola a me ka make,” pēlā kāna i kākau ai, “‘O ka pepehi kanaka nō, ka ma‘i pupule, ka ha‘alele wale. Ola ke aloha a me ka hau‘oli nō ho‘i. Loa‘a nā home i waiho ‘ia, nā home kahi e ho‘i ai kānaka, nā home e kanu ‘ia ai nā iwi. Loa‘a nā mo‘olelo, ua lehulehu wale. A pēlā ihola nō ho‘i ka mo‘olelo o kēia ‘ahu ‘ula.”⁴
I ka nalo ‘ana o ke kani o nā manu ā lilo loa, nalu nō ko kākou na‘au ma luna o ka lilo a me ka ne‘e ‘ana aku i mua i kekahi māhele hou aku nō o ke ola ‘ana, e amo pū nō kākou i ka ‘oihana hana hulu manu no‘eau—ho‘olohe, nānā, kāhea, hopu, ‘ohi, ho‘oku‘u, ‘uo, pule, ho‘omana‘o. Mākaukau mau nō kākou ma waena o nā kūpuna, e ho‘olana nō kākou ā ki‘eki‘e, a e lu‘u nō kākou ā hohonu loa me nā mana nāna ho‘omālamalama mai, ho‘oikaika mai, ho‘ona‘auao mai, ho‘omaopopo mai, ho‘oulu mai, a ho‘āmana mai. Hāpai ‘ia ka leo pule, ua ho‘oku‘u ‘ia.
Unuhi ʻia e Keao NeSmith
They who invoke birds should always be alert¹
Drew Kahuʻāina Broderick
Out of the blue, many years ago, my mother Maile wrote over email: ‘Something to digest. Remember our people… Remember our home.’ Attached was the following essay, “Carving a Hawaiian Aesthetic,” written by poet, author, and editor Māhealani Dudoit (1954 – 2002) first published in the inaugural issue of ʻŌiwi: A Native Hawaiian Journal – He ‘oia mau nō kākou (1998). Māhealani co-founded the publication with scholar, aloha ʻāina advocate, and poet kuʻualoha hoʻomanawanui to increase opportunities for Kānaka ʻŌiwi thoughts, visions, voices, and arts to be printed and shared with care.
A personal story of remembrance, healing, and affirmation, “Carving a Hawaiian Aesthetic” is a narrative of continuity. One that establishes a longstanding and ongoing genealogy of Kānaka artists, educators, and advocates—those who have been obligated by their people ‘to move the community in a certain direction.’² Written while she was enrolled in the first course dedicated to Hawaiian visual culture and taught from a Hawaiian perspective within the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Māhealani’s essay took form in parallel to her earliest piece of ‘contemporary Hawaiian art,’ a cape titled moʻokūʻauhau (n.d.) made for the course.
Māhealani’s moʻokūʻauhau was an interpretation of ʻahuʻula, bold and vibrant expressions of Kānaka visual sovereignty, originally composed of hundreds of thousands of feathers expertly plucked from winged ancestors—ʻiʻiwi, ʻapapane, ʻōʻō, and mamo—then skillfully bundled and secured, using different tying and wrapping techniques, into netted backings of plant fibers. With each bundle a chant or prayer was offered, serving as a cloak of perpetual protection for wearers.³
These spiritual treasures, sacred conduits between realms, also signify environmental catastrophe, mass death, and historical trauma. Over the latter part of the 19th century, as Hawaiʻi endured intense change, habitat degradation led to increased competition, predation, and disease. These factors coupled with the high demands of Euro-American markets fueled a rapid decline in endemic and native populations. Of the many ancestral bird lineages that thrived across the Hawaiian archipelago, more than two-thirds have been lost forever.
Differing in material composition and technique from feathered capes and cloaks of our ancestors, Māhealani’s moʻokūʻauhau was comprised of hau, banyan, a marine-blue hand dyed kapa, strips of paper with text and image imprinted on them, and leaf skeletons gathered in the mountains with her companion. “In this cape there will be stories of life and death” she writes, “There will be murder, insanity, desertion. There will be love and happiness. There will be homelands left, homelands returned to, homelands in which to be buried. There will be stories, many stories. And the cape itself will be one of those stories.”⁴
As bird songs fade and we process immense loss, moving onward into another stage of being, let us carry on with our vital featherwork—listening, watching, calling, catching, plucking, releasing, bundling, praying, remembering. Always already among beloved ancestors, may we soar high and dive deep with all who grant us knowledge, strength, intelligence, understanding, insight, and power. A prayer is lifted, it is freed.
“Carving a Hawaiian Aesthetic,” ʻŌiwi: A Native Hawaiian Journal, vol. 1, (December 1998) © Māhealani Dudoit. Republished with permission of ku'ualoha ho'omanawanui, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, September 15, 2022.
We would like to thank Keao NeSmith for their thoughtful translation.
¹ Adaptation of ʻōlelo noʻeau 2087 from Mary Kawena Pukui, ʻŌlelo Noʻeau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings, Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983, p. 227.
² Māhealani Dudoit, “Carving a Hawaiian Aesthetic,” ʻŌiwi: A Native Hawaiian Journal, vol. 1, (December 1998), p. 26.
³ Marques Hanalei Marzan, “The Aesthetics, Materials, and Construction of Hawaiian Featherwork,” in Royal Hawaiian Featherwork: Nā Hulu Aliʻi. ed. Leah Caldeira, Christina Hellmich, Adrienne L. Kaeppler, Betty Lou Kam, and Roger G. Rose. (University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2015), p. 26-37.
⁴ Dudoit, “Carving a Hawaiian Aesthetic,” p. 26.
Drew Kahuʻāina Broderick
Raised in a deep-rooted matriarchy on the windward side of Oʻahu, I am guided by the longstanding and ongoing efforts of Kānaka ʻŌiwi women—especially my mother, aunties, and maternal grandmother—who have devoted their lives to art, education, organizing, and community in Hawaiʻi.
Currently, I serve as director of Koa Gallery, Kapiʻolani Community College and as a member of kekahi wahi (2020–), a film collective documenting stories of transformation. Recently, I helped cocurate the inaugural Hawaiʻi Triennial: Pacific Century - E Hoʻomau no Moananuiākea (2022) and coedit CONTACT 2014–2019 (2021), a publication commemorating an open-call exhibition series of the same name that explored notions of “contact” across the Hawaiian archipelago. Future collaborative projects include ʻAi Pōhaku (2023), an expansive offering of Kānaka artistic practices and I OLA KANALOA (2019–), a group process guided by the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana.
Portrait image courtesy Drew Kahuʻāina Broderick. Description: With the sky above a gallery, Mānoa, Kona, Oʻahu, July 26, 2022.