2018 - PRESENT
Under the mentoring of Lloyd Harold Kumulāʻau Sing Jr. and May Haunani Balino-Sing, the haumāna of Nā Akua Ākea Maui made personal commitments to perpetuate ʻieʻie style basketry by learning to weave various forms of hīnaʻi, hīnaʻi iʻa, peahi, and the kiʻi akua hulu manu; the finale project that integrates all of the knowledge and skills they have acquired during the year-long cohort while learning and integrating new cultural skills and mediums not commonly used today.
The artists of the exhibit include (from left to right): Keali’i Reichel, Kennard Stanley Kaipo Kekona, Justin Wood, Bradley Rogers, Edward Lum, Kamlan Kapukalani’okala Fowler-Kapua’ala (accompanied by Kamakaʻōʻilipuaihailimoeikūlanaanaʻole Kapuaʻala), Gayle Miyaguchi, Kyle Keoki Elama Farm, May Haunani Balino-Sing, Leina Wender, and Lloyd Kumulāʻau Sing.
The kiʻi akua hulu manu were powerful ancestral images who possessed immense mana and served in many capacities. They were genealogically connected to ruling chiefs and their descendants who were charged with the possession and the custody of the feathered gods. These deities protected their chiefs in the realm of the living and continually cared for them in the next life, the realm of the ʻaumakua. They protected the well being of the government and aided in times of war.
Bringing these ancestral images to life was the vision of each haumāna who were able to weave and express their feelings and understanding of the kiʻi akua hulu manu. Inspired from nineteen existing kiʻi akua hulu manu artifacts in the world today, our students created their own representations of the Hawaiian deities.
No feathers were affixed to these contemporary images of Hawaiian deities to highlight the workmanship and artistry of each haumāna, and the beauty of ʻieʻie style basketry.
Born and raised in Tacoma Washington, Donohue from an early age was always fishing, outdoors, or hiking before joining the US Navy at 17 years old. He met his future wife in 1988, who was born and raised on Maui. They were married and moved to Maui in 1990. Jeffery is an Alumni of Calhoun MEBA Engineering School, Easton, Maryland. As a Licensed Chief Engineer, he sailed almost 50 years before officially retiring in 2018.
After retirement he became a Docent at Hale Hoʻikeʻike, Bailey House Museum in Wailuku, Maui giving tours to visitors. The Maui Cohort of Nā Akua Ākea first started their initial classes on the grounds of the museum, he was greatly inspired by the work they did. He was unable to join the cohort at the time as he was a full-time care giver to his mother, but the seed had been planted. After his mother had been put to rest, a beginner's ulana ʻieʻie weaving class opened at the Kāʻanapali Beach Hotelʻs Annual Kaluluhiwaolele Fiber Arts Conference in 2019 that he attended. After a lot of work, he was invited to join the Nā Akua Ākea Cohort.
Always a student of learning new survival skills, Jeffery discovered that the ancient Hawaiians were masters in their environment. The skills they developed in farming, navigation, fishing, arts and crafts, music and dance, and social conduct could give rewards that few people would ever know. There is always more to learn.
A graduate of The Kamehameha Schools in 1982, Elama has a BA degree in Communication from Pratt Institute in New York. He is a retired member of the Maui Fire Department and assists yearly with the Kula Kaiapuni o Maui students.
For the past 25 years, Elama has been practicing Hawaiian culture and was at the forefront of the emergence of the Nā koa movement. Training with Pā-Kuʻi-a-holo and the Hale Mua o Maui for 15 years, he was mentored under Sam Kahaʻi Kaʻai, learning ʻawa protocols and various hana noʻeau. Elama has studied oli under Hōkūlani Holt-Padilla, Kamanaʻopono Crabbe, and Kaponoʻai Molitau. Most importantly, he has participated in Hoʻokuʻikahi ceremonies at Puʻukoholā for 15 years, developing a deep appreciation for his heritage while his cultural ʻike grew.
Elama is married to Kumu Hula Sissy Lake-Farm and is also a member of Nā Hanona Kūlike ʻO Piʻilani. He is a proud father of three keiki: Lokalia, a Pukana or graduate of Kula Kaiapuni o Maui, Puameiti and Kekaulaiwi. All three keiki have been immersed in Hawaiian language and culture since birth.
Born on the island of Maui to Dorothy Kuʻuleialoha Kapuaʻala and Chung Sheong Dang, KamLan lived most of her life on Maui after the passing of her father in 1966. For “Kammy,” hula life began at age five with Kumu Daniel Akamu Kaʻaihui and continued through her school years with Kumu Robert Lopaka Kalani who maintained his teaching with a small group that performed regularly. It was he who encouraged and created opportunities for her to participate in studies with other Kumu Hula as often as possible.
It was these hula experiences that piqued her interest in the art of chanting, which created a setting for her deep interest in her cultural heritage and roots. KamLan’s view of the world was shaped in part from listening intently to kūpuna, whose company she always seemed to prefer at every opportunity, drawn to their stories and spirits, which always filled her with fascination and deep regard for her Hawaiian culture.
She continued dancing/performing throughout her school years and began a modeling/acting career in high school, working with fashion, makeup, lighting, and photography. These experiences dovetailed with her as a Visual Merchandiser and Fashion Consultant in Kapalua, Kāʻanapali and Art Galleries in Lāhaina.
In 1985 KamLan won the title Mrs. Hawaiʻi, an honor she utilized to bring attention to her favorite charities. She continued to dance hula with her sister and brother-in-law Keola Beamer in, “This is Hawai’i,” touring with Masters of the Slack Key.
Today, Kammy is a haumana of Nā Hanona Kūlike ʻO Piʻilani under the instruction of nā Kumu, Kaponoʻai Molitau and Sissy Lake-Farm, KamLan embraces the opportunity for a serious education in oli and pule. She is also a lomi practitioner, trained in many modalities of natural medicine and body work.
Born and raised on the island of Maui in Lāhaina, Kaipo became a member of the cultural group Nākoa Kau I Ka Mahau o Nā Kūpuna under the mentorship of Keʻeaumoku Kapu after completing high school. A member of Nā Papa Kanaka o Puʻukoholā, he has volunteered to help in the National Parks Division with the restoration of historical sites.
Over the years Kaipo has been involved with various organizations such as the Hui o Waʻa Kaulua, Maui County’s General Plan Advisory Committee, the ʻAha Moku Council and Nā Leo Ka Lele, a nonprofit organization whose aim is to support Kula Kaiāpuni schools in Lāhaina.
Kaipo shares his time supporting Nā ʻAikāne o Maui, a Hawaiian cultural center in Lāhaina that teaches traditional Hawaiian martial arts in the school of Kapu Kuʻialua where he serves as the Kanaka Kalikukui. He also serves as the Chair for the Hawaiʻi Farmers Union United, Lāhaina Chapter and is currently the Farm Manager for KAEC located in the ahupuaʻa of Kuʻia where he is helping with reclaiming some of the historical lands of Ka Malu Ulu o Lele, the food forest of Lāhaina.
In May 2019, Kaipo traveled to Washington D.C. with other Hawaiian practitioners to particpate in celebrating “Hawaiʻi,” at the Museum of the Native American Indian representing the art of ʻieʻie basketry.
“I have a strong passion to our culture, traditions, and values,” says Kaipo. It is this commitment that guides his principles to serve in different capacities for his community. Today, Kaipo lives with his wife Rachel Kapu, in Kahana, Maui. They have four children
Born on the island of Oʻahu, Ed graduated from Castle High School in Kāneʻohe and went on to receive a BS Degree in Agriculture from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. Presently, he is a Plant Health Safeguarding Specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Ed’s passion for Hawaiian weaving began when he started weaving with lauhala in 2017 under the guidance of Kumu Pōhaku Kahoʻohanohano. It was at the Ola I Ka Pūhala Multi-fiber Arts Conference at the Kāʻanapali Beach Hotel in October 2018, that he was introduced to ʻieʻie. Working and weaving ʻieʻie style basketry felt good in his hands, and connected him to another time when life was much simpler.
Ed says, “Weaving under nā Kumu Lloyd Kumulāʻau Sing Jr. and May Haunani Balino-Sing has been inspiring for me and fed my need to want to learn more.”
Raised in Makawao but spent most of her childhood on her parent’s farm in Kula, Gayle began her relationship with plants, the land, and the environment. At a very early age, her father encouraged her handiwork by showing her how to use a drill, mend fishnets and make wetsuits while her mom taught her how to sew, knit, and crochet.
In 1989 she received a BS in Agriculture at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and began experimenting with growing ipu. In 1994, with a steady supply of ipu, she was able to create a hula supply business called Nā Kani O Hula and, for 23 years, she conducted workshops and provided hula dancers with handmade hula instruments. She herself studied hula with Pāʻū O Hiʻiaka for many years.
With lauhala weaving experience, she joined Hui Ulana ʻIe o Maui cohort to learn how to weave ʻieʻie because she had long admired the beautiful woven ʻieʻie coverings on gourds. She finds ulana ʻie meditative and can get lost in the work for hours at a time. This style of weaving is an art that she hopes to continue to do for a very long time.
Kealiʻi was born and raised on Maui, growing up in Lāhaina and spending weekends and summers at his grandmother’s house in Pāʻia on the windward side of the island. His passion for the language and culture of Hawaiʻi led him to become one of the founding directors for Pūnana Leo o Maui, the Hawaiian language immersion school. He also founded his own hula school, Hālau Keʻalaokamaile in 1980 and has won numerous competition awards over the years – including overall winners at the 2011 Merrie Monarch Hula Festival. He is also recognized as an accomplished chanter and Haku Mele and most recently, one of the very few practitioners at the forefront of reviving the rare art of kōkō puʻupuʻu nets.
In 1994 he independently produced and released a collection of Hawaiian traditional and contemporary songs and chants entitled “Kawaipunahele.” His subsequent music releases “Lei Hāliʻa” (1995), “E Ō Mai” (1997), “Melelana” (1999), “Keʻalaokamaile” (2004), “Maluhia” (2006), “Kawaiokalena” (2014) have cemented his place in the Hawaiian music industry. All told, he has been recognized with two Grammy Nominations and amassed 37 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards. His consistent placement in Billboard Magazine’s World Music and Heatseeker Charts has garnered him international attention.
In 2011, Kealiʻi was inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame for achievement in all facets of Hawaiian music, chant, and hula. Despite critical acclaim and fame, Kealiʻi is a Kumu Hula at his core. His commitment to the perpetuation of his ancestor’s teachings and values continues today in the lives of his students.
Bradley David “Liko” Rogers is the son of Harry and Marsha Rogers of Detroit, Michigan. Moving with his ʻohana to Hawaiʻi in 1982, he attended Lāhainaluna High School and went on to the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Hawaiian language. Liko continued his education and received his teaching certificate from Chaminade University.
Liko started his teaching career at Pūnana Leo o Honolulu in 1987. In 1998, he returned to Lāhaina to help open the first Pūnana Leo o Lāhaina. It is there where he met his wife Debbie and together now have a family of five children and four grandchildren. After five years at Pūnana Leo, he began teaching Hawaiian immersion at Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena where he is currently teaching Kindergarten.
“I became interested in weaving ʻieʻie after attending a basketry workshop offered by Kumulāʻau and Haunani Sing a few years ago.” Liko reflects that he had no experience weaving before attending this workshop. It was there that he finished his first basket and was hooked, “I learned so much in that initial workshop that I was able to continue working on my own and learn through my own experience.”
Liko shares, “I have truly enjoyed the opportunity to hone my skills with the continuation of my learning in the Nā Akua Ākea year-long cohort with many of my peers. Although my kiʻi akua is far from perfect, I have learned and grown so much personally from making it as a weaver by completing the final project, as well as the various other projects we’ve accomplished this past year. I hope to continue learning so that I may
Justin Wood is from Kula, Maui. He first became interested in Hawaiian arts and crafts in elementary school during Hawaiian history class. He found fascination in images of woven helmets covered in red feathers and shark-tooth weapons. Because he grew up fixing cars with his father, Justin had little time to pursue any type of Hawaiian featherwork, weaving basketry, or doing weaponry.
It wasn’t until around 2008 that a co-worker offered to teach him how to weave a mahiole, the Hawaiian chiefly helmet, that he began to take part in the art of weaving.
After the completion of his first helmet, Justin was motivated to weave a second mahiole. Unfortunately, his friend had passed and Justin had little resources to attempt another piece. In 2018, Justin and his wife Yumiko saw the Sings demonstrating ʻieʻie basketry at the Ritz-Carlton Celebration of the Arts Festival. At their request, he was recommended to join the year-long Hui Ulana ʻIe o Maui cohort. Justin looks forward to perpetuating the art of Hawaiian ʻieʻie weaving and to someday weave another mahiole in honor of his friend who introduced him to this cultural practice.
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Leina migrated westward, moving to Maui in 1973. She came to Hawaiʻi to swim in the ocean and hike in the crater; she stayed because of the Hawaiian culture, becoming a “settler aloha ʻāina” in Keʻanae-Wailuanui.
Leina arrived in Hawaiʻi when the “Hawaiian Renaissance” movement was getting started and was fortunate to have been mentored by several generous kūpuna, including Auntie Emma DeFries, who gave her her Hawaiian name, Auntie Alice Kuloloio and Uncle Harry Kūnihi Mitchell.
A dedicated student and practitioner of aloha ʻāina/permaculture, Leina cultivates and forages for plants which provide food, medicine, native habitat and materials for lei and other cultural uses. The hili (dye) with which she dyed her kiʻi akua came from the bark of a kukui tree she planted 30 years ago.
For many years she danced with hālau hula Pāʻū O Hiʻiaka, volunteered at Pūnana Leo o Maui, participated in Makahiki ceremonies and other activities on Kahoʻolawe with the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana, and advocated for Hawaiian and environmental land and water rights. She has visited the West Bank four times, supporting Palestinian human rights.
She was fortunate to study fiber sculpture at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa with Pat Hickman. Leina’s abstract sculptures created out of local fibers have been shown in juried and invitational shows on Maui and Oʻahu. Working with natural materials helps her in her goals to live lightly on the earth and minimize her consumption. Leina feels blessed to have been able to combine her love of basketry, fiber sculpture, and Hawaiian culture with the Hui Ulana ʻIe o Maui cohort. She is grateful for the expertise and generous, gentle, patient guidance of Kumulāʻau and Haunani, the compassionate support of her talented classmates and the gracious hospitality of the Farm ʻohana; they have made this a joyful journey.
Ke Kumu Hawaiʻi would like to thank the many people and organizations that have helped to make this traveling exhibition, Nā Akua Ākea possible.
Mahalo to Denise Maile Miyahana, former Arts Program Specialist: Folk and Traditional Arts of the Hawaiʻi State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. She has tirelessly supported this cohort project from the beginning and continues to advise us; helping to shape the exhibition and ongoing related events.
Mahalo to Naomi “Sissy” Lake-Farm of the Maui Historical Society Hale Hōʻikeʻike at the Bailey House for her unwavering support of Hawaiian cultural arts and hosting the first exhibition of Nā Akua Ākea.
A special mahalo to the artists in Nā Akua Ākea for exhibiting their ʻie weavings and for their commitment to perpetuate the art of ʻieʻie basketry: Jeffery S. Donohue, Kyle Keoki Elama Farm, KamLan Kapukalaniʻokalā Fowler-Kapuaʻala, Kaipo Kekona, Edward Lum, Gayle Miyaguchi, Kealiʻi Reichel, Bradley Rogers, Leina Wender and Justin Wood.
Mahalo to Leah Pualahaʻole Caldeira for her knowledge and research with her Thesis, Akua Hulu Manu Through Materials, for her degree of Master of Arts in Art, 2003. The information used was instrumental in helping us learn about the intracacies of the kiʻi akua hulu manu.
Special mahalo to Robin Yoko Racoma for her artistry in creating the logo for Ke Kumu Hawaiʻi, and to Kanoena Haunani Kawenakonoikalā Sing for her graphic design and layout for the Nā Akua Ākea educational guide.
Lastly, we would like to express our aloha and gratitude to Patrick Horimoto and Raymond Nakama for their contributions towards the advancement of ʻieʻie basketry. They were the pioneers who paved the way to make our passion of weaving ʻieʻie a reality.
Nā Akua Ākea is supported in part by the Maui Historical Society Hale Hōʻikeʻike at the Bailey House, the Hawaiʻi State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and Ke Kumu Hawaiʻi.