kapa kulture

This blog is dedicated to Hawaiian kapa and matters related to Hawai'i nei…kuku kapa e!

Archive for the month “June, 2013”

George Helm

Kaho’olawe Aloha ʻĀina

Population Decline of Native Hawaiians

The Native Hawaiian population decrease rose at an alarming rate since the first notable contact with Westerners in 1778. Disease was a major factor in this decline. Smallpox, cholera, and even the flu were introduced, and then decimated the Hawaiian people in record numbers. Venereal disease such as gonorrhea also had an additionally insidious effect of sterilizing its victims!

The perfection of the marine chronometer aided European cartographers in map making and was a primary reason for increased foreign invasion in the Hawaiian Islands. When the Hawaiian Islands were charted on maps beginning in the 1700’s, sailors, merchants, and missionaries came in droves until devastating consequences were reflected in cultural losses, loss of lands, way of life, and most importantly, decreasing numbers of the Hawaiian people.

Foreigners were instrumental in exploiting the natural resources in the region. Discovery that large profits could be made from the whaling industry, the sandalwood trade, and the subsequent development of sugar plantations brought famine, cultural disruption, and intermarriage to Hawaiian families. Combined with diseases, these factors had a fatal effect on the population of Native Hawaiian people.

In 2003, only 5000 individuals identified themselves as Native Hawaiian. This figure does not include races that identify themselves as part-Hawaiian, which is an independent category. In 2010, the United States Census combined all races from the Pacific Island region into one category and counted 540,013 individuals. This category includes people from the Philippines, Guam, Micronesia, Samoa, Tonga, and other island nations.

Population Decline of Native Hawaiians

Population Decline of Native Hawaiians

Hawaiian Word of the Day: waihoʻoluʻu

waihoʻoluʻu: Color, dye, coloring liquid: to impart scent. Paʻa i ka waihoʻoluʻu, dyed, colored. He aha ka waihoʻoluʻu o kēlā pua? What is the color of that flower?

He Hibiscus waimeae keʻokeʻo kēia.

Hibiscus waimeae, a native to Kauaʻi

Hibiscus waimeae, a native to Kauaʻi

Walaʻau–talking story

I spent my day yesterday playing around with some natural dyes I’ve collected, and dye mediums. I practiced printing designs with my ʻohe kāpala (bamboo stamps). This is one of my practice pieces done on watercolor paper with kukui nut ashes (grey) and ʻalaea (red).

kapa wehi

kapa wehi

I used kukui nut oil mixed with water as the medium for the ‘alaea. It made a good consistency that enabled the pigment to be both dark enough and fluid enough for printing. The kukui ash did not work well with oil and/or water. I ended up using it dry and applied it using a small piece of kapa as a brush. This method of “dry painting” with a tapa brush was noted by Te Rangi Hiroa (Peter H. Buck) who was a director at the Bishop Museum from 1936 until he died in 1951. Among his many achievements, Buck wrote a series of scholarly publications entitled “Arts and Crafts of Hawaii” (1964) in which he wrote on various subjects of Hawaiian cultural life. Clothing, was one of the sections and it includes a pretty thorough discussion of Hawaiian kapa history, tools, and processes. Some other sections in the Arts and Crafts of Hawai’i series are food, houses, canoes, fishing religion, war and weapons, death and burial, and more.

Kapa Revival Project

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Kapa that I made over the past weeks…

This photo shows 14 pieces of kapa in a variety of sizes and textures. Some are heavy and stiff, some are thin, fine, and flexible. Many hours were spent pounding these using the hohoa and iʻe kuku to form a smooth cloth from the raw wauke tree bark, paper mulberry tree. These pieces are now ready for ho’owehi, decoration. The ʻohe kāpala are literally bamboo stamps, carved to be printing tools. I have gathered raw materials to make hoʻowaiulu, dyes. I have ʻōlena root for yellow, kukui nut ashes for black, and ʻalaea a mineral in the soil for red. I also have boiled down banana flower petals and got a brown wash. Stay tuned for the results! ~Aloha~

white kapa  kapa ke'ʻokeʻo

white kapa
kapa ke’ʻokeʻo

ʻohe kāpala, bamboo stamps

ʻohe kāpala, bamboo stamps

Nā Maka o ka ʻĀina (The Eyes of the Land)…Hawaiian documentary and educational videos

http://www.hawaiianvoice.com/video-catalog/language/Nā Maka o ka ʻĀina, Eyes of the Land…Hawaiian documentary and educational videos

Hawaiian Word of the Day: lāʻau lapaʻau

lāʻau lapaʻau: Medicine. Lit., curing medicine.



People + Families + Kuleana = Community

Pacific Island National Parks


People + Family + Kuleana = Community

Kohala celebrated Kamehameha Day on Tuesday June 11, 2013 . Kids and adults who came by the Ala Kahakai NHT booth got to put their feet on the trail. 40+ footprints of people, family names and kuleana (responsibility) graced a 15 foot long poster created by the local community and guests at this annual Kohala event.

One of the formula for connecting, reconnecting and enhancing connections to the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail is using outreach activities which can engage active involvement of people at community events. People who participated got to realize that their families are part of the living culture of the trail. Mahalo to all the footsteps on the paper trail. Hope to see you out and about on the real trail soon.





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Education: Culture Matters…a video produced by Kamehameha Schools

Education: Culture Matters, a video produced by Kamehameha Schools

An intimate look at the heart of culture-based education and the indisputable evidence that children thrive in an environment that fosters a learning process they can relate to.

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