In celebration of Ka Papahana Kaiapuni’s 30th anniversary, The Living Legacy Series has announced the launch of Ke Kanakolu, a project that uses art as a medium to invigorate Native Hawaiian identity while perpetuating Hawaiian values, language and culture.
Since August 2017 through May 2018, ʻĀuna Pāheona, a collective of art-centric individuals, will travel to five islands to engage local artists and Hawaiian immersion schools to design and create 10 murals inspired by the mo‘olelo of Kalapana on Hawai‘i Island.
“Ke Kanakolu was conceived to raise awareness of the 23 Hawaiian language immersion and charter
schools that form Ka Papahana Kaiapuni, as well as the importance of perpetuating Hawaiian language, deepening connection to the ‘āina and fostering the responsibility of honoring ‘ike kupuna,” said Ke Kanakolu Project Manager Mahea Akau.
The story of Kalapana includes his father, Kānepōiki from Kona, Hawaiʻi, and his mother, Halepākī from Kauaʻi, who has the welo ʻohana of hoʻopāpā (a wordplay or battle of wits art form).
Kaua‘i chief Kalanialiʻiloa hears of this hoʻopāpā art form and becomes obsessed with mastering it. In no time at all, he masters hoʻopāpā via Halepāiwi and Halepāniho, Halepākīʻs older brothers, and desires to construct a pā niho (tooth enclosure) and pā iwi (bone enclosure) for his chiefly residence of Kauaʻi.
Eventually, he starts challenging other hoʻopāpā practitioners, including Kānepōiki.
While on Kauaʻi, Kānepōiki loses the battle, and his teeth and bones are used in Kalanialiʻiloaʻs chiefly residence.
When Halepākī heard of Kānepōikiʻs death, Kalapana was left fatherless at a very young age. When Kalapana matured, he desired to avenge his fatherʻs death and travel to Kona to learn hoʻopāpā from Kalaoa. When Kalapana reaches Kauaʻi, Kalanialiʻiloa’s men attempt to fool and trick Kalapana into a death sentence.
However, Kalapana’s wit, tenacity, and love for his land and family prevail; he knows all the winds, rains, plants, songs and ʻai that was unknown to Kalanialiʻiloa.
“This mo‘olelo of Kalapana was selected for the tenacity and drive of the protagonist of the story. The
strife that Kalapana experiences with the loss of his father, Kānepōiki, and Kalapana avenging the will of his father is comparable to Hawaiian language revitalization efforts,” said Ke Kanakolu Hawaiian