“To take into care what is precious and sacred to indigenous people and facilitate the passing of

indigenous knowledge and cultural values from one generation to another”.

The Lifework and Collective Song of Sam Kaha`i Kaai,

Naue Ka Hona (The earth shakes) - E ala mai ia Kihanuilulumoku (Kihanuilulumoku awakens)

©2010 Kua`aina Associates, Inc.

Sam Kaha`i Kaai

Artist, sculptor, and noted scholar of Hawaiian culture

The Words of Sam Kaai “Our songs and stories were becoming misappropriated, getting to be ‘hapa haole’. We were losing the ability to think in Hawaiian terms and concepts. Correspondingly, our material culture fell into disuse, discarded and interesting only because of its association with the past. So the pü ho‘okani calls us to assemble and move forward into our self defined future.”

Höküle‘a

“If you were coming north from Kahiki, across the doldrums and into a new sea, you would notice the sea getting colder, more active and stronger on your way following the Golden Plover. The kölea is a land bird so you would know there’s land…but how far? At the end of a 31-day run, you would be losing weight, the fish not biting as much, your sails tattered and your lashings weakened. “Then you would see Höküpa’a, the North Star, and what you longed for would appear…Mauna Kea, the White Mountain, or the perpetual flames of Mauna Loa. “In heavenly communion, our spirits jump in ecstasy, and that is depicted in the zenith star Höküle‘a over our heads.” “For me, Höküle‘a represents renewal in the physical sense. Höküle‘a was launched from the ahu (altar) at Kualoa. One of the meanings of Kualoa is ‘the long memory’…behind you the long line of traditions, the long line of ancestors. So it is the appropriate place from which to be launched and to return. “Herb Kane stimulated all of this by doing a series of canoe paintings that were seen and felt throughout Polynesia. Here on Maui, I carved the two ki‘i, stern post ancestral figures. Kiha, ka mo‘o o malu ‘ulu o Lele, represents all the küpuna (elders/ ancestors). She is a heavenly watcher, a caring spirit, a clear voice of guidance. The other side is Käne o Höküle‘a o ka lani, a man reaching for a star, an effigy of all the ‘ohana wa‘a (canoe family).

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Sam Kaha`i Kaai ~ photo by Masako Cordray

The canoe was trolling a hand line. I was at the mizzen sheet when an aku (tuna) was hauled in and I shouted “Sam, hold up the fish. He did and I got one of the bests photos of my life. The editor ran it large with my story in the April 1976 issue of National Geographic”. . .Herb Kawainui Kane

Sam Kaai with the original ancestor figures he carved for the Hawaiian Voyaging canoe, Hokule`a

Photographer unknown

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