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E Ulu Nā Mu’o Hala

E Ulu Nā Muʻo Hala

The ʻōlelo noʻeau, “Moena pāwehe o Niʻihau, Patterned mat of Niʻihau”, is a poetic expression often used in reference to Niʻihau. Amongst the many items that Kanaka Maoli used to weave and create were jewelry and bedding made from the Hala. However, many other types of flora and fauna were used, such as the fine makaloa mats of Niʻihau that were beautifully patterned and made famous throughout the islands.

Papahana Kuaola introduces to our ʻohana, E Ulu Nā Muʻo Hala, to foster the new growth of hala. ʻOhana will be able to navigate the various tabs below around Moʻomeheu “Culture”, Moʻolelo “Stories”, and mea pilina to Hala”, those things connected to Hala. Here learners will engage with resources and develop their knowledge deepening their cultural heritage. Our Papahana Kuaola and its vibrant community can access information about lauded Hala groves and weavers from around the Hawaiian Islands.

Hawaiʻi celebrates the fact that many institutions across the archipelago house historical Hala artifacts and related implements safekeeping these items for many generations to grow and learn. Institutions, such as the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum not only boast an extensive collection of Hala material culture, they also invest in digital ways of learning connecting learners of all backgrounds to its physical and digital collection. Here, learners will gain access to links and points directing them to these vast resources particularly on Hala.

Like our beloved King David Kalakaua who once said, “E Hoʻoulu”, which alluded to the increase and restoration of our race after colonization and plagues wiped away so many of our Kanaka Maoli. E Ulu Nā Muʻo Hala seeks to do something similar and that is to increase the understanding of Hala importance in today’s Kanaka Maoli life; to re-establish a connectivity between our ʻŌiwi and the art of weaving and the fundamental practices associated with Hala and lauhala; and to advance the knowledge systems of our Native communities by providing valuable resources, so we encourage all learners visiting this site to enjoy and indulge as you navigate the various sections below. E Ulu Nā Muʻo Hala!

These are a few treasured kumu lauhala of Hawaiʻi.  Future updates will include a biography and recorded interviews.

Marcia was born and raised on Oʻahu and still resides in Niu Valley. She started hat weaving in 1980 with Gladys Kukana Grace and continued to weave with her until her passing in 2013. Marcia loves handling pāpale lauhala samples of old, looking at old photos and movies so that she can learn from them and try to replicate what she has experienced.

Marcia Omura

Margaret resides in Kapaʻa on the island of Kauaʻi. She has been weaving lauhala for 30 years and feels lucky to have had learned from master hat weavers Esther Makuaʻole, Elizabeth Lee and Gladys Grace. Margaret has a passion for teaching lauhala weaving and loves to create pāpale for people to wear and for exhibition.

Margarett Lovett (Kauaʻi)

Gwen Kamisugi

Pōhaku Kahoʻohanohano comes from a lineage of lauhala weavers from Kahakuloa, Maui. As a young adult he began his journey of apprenticeships with seven mentors and immersed himself in the art of lauhala weaving. He is now a master weaver dedicated to sharing his skill with others. He is excited to bring weavers to the island of Maui by co-chairing Kauluhiwaolele Maui Fiber Arts Conference.

Pōhaku Kahoohanohano (Maui)

Hailing from an ʻOhana of noted weavers from Kīpahulu/Hāna, Maui, Kumu Ipolani Vaughan began weaving under the auspices of Master Weaver Gladys Kukana Ontai Grace who was born in Kona on the island of Hawaiʻi. Ipolani is also a well-known Kumu ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, Kumu Hula, Kumu Ulana, and Hawaiian cultural specialist and preservationist. She is most noted for ʻeke/pahu hapai lauhala in a fine weave for the storage and carrying of precious possessions. Kumu Ipolani continues the traditions of her Kumu Aunty Gladys, hoping to instill in this new generation the “waiwai” (values) of the art of ulana lauhala that have been passed down by our kūpuna. In the words of her beloved Kumu, Aunty Gladys:

“E nānā ka maka, e hoʻolohe ka pepeiao, E hana me ka lima.” (Look, Listen, and Do!)

Ipolani Vaughan

Keoua Nelsen creates contemporary and functional woven pieces of the hala leaf from the pūhala; incorporating styles that are timeless yet push the boundaries of the customary.  He continues to perpetuate traditional practices of weaving however not limit where styling is concerned.

Keoua currently experiments with the styling of the hats – reviving styles of yesteryear traditional, those learned from our Maori cousins, and creative styling to bring to life appropriate yet timeless functional pieces of wearable art.

Keoua’s mission is to educate and perpetuate a lauhala weaving lifestyle for future generations, and to bridge the gap between customary and traditional practices of his kūpuna to modern contemporary times.

Keoua Nelsen