I am Kanaka — a native person descended from the original inhabitants of the islands of Hawaii. Our survival as indigenous people depends on our ability to know and practice our cultural traditions, to speak and understand our language, and to feel an authentic connection to our own history.
That is why I wanted to make a film about Kapaemahu, and to write and narrate it in Olelo Niihau – the only form of Hawaiian that has been continuously spoken since prior to the arrival of foreigners. It is not enough to study our language in an American classroom, nor to read about our history in an English language textbook. We need to be active participants in telling our own stories in our own way.
I am also mahu, which like many indigenous third-gender identities was once respected but is now more often a target for hatred and discrimination. I want our young people to understand that the ability to embrace both the male and female aspects of their spirit is not a weakness but a strength, a reason to rejoice not to fear.
Whether it is protecting Mauna Kea or Kapaemahu, I shall always believe in what historian S. M. Kamakau articulated in 1865 : He makemake ko’u e pololei ka moolelo o ko’u one hanau, aole na ka malihimi e ao ia’u I ka moolelo o ko’u lahui, na’u e ao aku I ka moolelo I ka malihini.
“I want the history of my homeland to be correct. The foreigner shall not teach me the history of my people, I will teach the foreigner.”
FOR YOU CONSIDERATION | BEST ANIMATED SHORT
Long ago, four extraordinary beings of dual male and female spirit brought the healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii and imbued their powers in four giant boulders. The stones still stand on Waikiki Beach, but the true story behind them has been hidden – until now.
Official website: kapaemahu.com
Written, Directed and Produced by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson
Director of Animation Daniel Sousa
Sound and Music Dan Golden
Original Chant Kaumakaiwa Kanakaole