Kānehūnāmoku: The Hidden Face of Kāne

On view to the public at Honolulu Hale, City and County of Honoluluʻs City Hall
May 18-June 30 2022
Monday-Saturday 7:45-4:30pm

From Malaea to Kaʻena

This exhibition is a collaboration with Koa ‘Ike Foundation, a non-profit whose mission is to serve the Wai’anae wahipana and preserve its ancient cultural traditions.

The hall is divided into four different areas of wahipana, starting with Malaea, where there was once a large temple and naval academy to Polynesian wayfinders, following all the way along the coast and its valleys to landʻs end at Kaʻena Point, the departure point for souls. Scan the QR codes to see more content from the artist about each area.

Pohaku ma ka Kaʻena. Original watercolor. 12x16in. Dawn Yoshimura.

For many years, Dawn Yoshimura and Jan Becket visited a small section of the Waiʻanae coast from Kepuhi Point to Kaʻena Point. This exhibit contains their reflections on that place. It includes what are now known as the ahupuaʻa of Keaʻau, ʻŌhikilolo, Mākua, Keawaʻula and Kaʻena. In some Waiʻanae families, however, this land sections is known as Kānehūnāmoku, the hidden land of Kāne. Those families have long memories; the term predates the late 18th century conquest of Oʻahu by Kahekili of Maui and Kamehameha of Hawaiʻi Island. What a treasured gift that such knowledge remains.

Residents of Waiʻanae value this undeveloped section of the coast, using it as a destination for day trips to the beach at Mākua and Keawaʻula. They have expressed the desire that the land section from Kepuhi to Kaʻena remain as it is, undeveloped:

… there should be NO urban, suburban, resort, or golf course development, or any other type of commercial land development, or landfills, permitted or approved north of Kepuhi Point and north of Makaha Valley. There is strong community consensus that no highway be built around Ka’ena Point due to its environmental sensitivity and cultural status. There is general consensus among State and City agencies that these lands should be preserved and protected for open space, environmental preservation, and cultural and religious practices. — Sustainable Communities Plan, 2012

In learning from those families, in talking to other Waiʻanae residents and in visiting that area, Dawn and Jan have each responded to this unique place in these works. If there is an intent behind the exhibit, it is that others on Oʻahu visit the area with an awareness of its immense value, just as it is now. Oʻahu residents recognized the value of open space when they set aside the Kaʻiwi Coast, protecting it from proposed development. As the rest of the island slowly becomes urbanized, may there be a realization for the need of a similar protected space at the other end of the island. And if one is permitted to dream, the Natural Area Reserve at Kaʻena serves as an inspiring model for the regeneration of native plant and animal populations in all of Kānehūnāmoku.

This exhibit is sponsored by Koa ʻIke Marae, Waiʻanae.

ʻO māua nō me ka haʻahaʻa,

Dawn Yoshimura and Jan Becket

Petroglyphs at one of the wahipana. Photograph by Jan Becket

A statement from Koa ʻIke Foundation

Our larger vision to to reestablish, as much as possible, the cultural landscape from Kepuhi Point to Pōhaku O Kauaʻi at Kaʻena Point, and thus, to permanently set aside that land, from mauka to makai, as a puʻuhonua – a place of healing and refuge for Hawaiian ʻohana, Hawaiian keiki, and others. In the short term, the more limited goal is to acquire the land of the former McCandless Ranch in Keaʻau and ʻOhikilolo.

A cultural landscape functions around pilina, the interconnections among people, among people and their environment, and among various natural elements of the environment: plants, insects, fishes, birds, rain, water flow and winds.

Driving past Keaʻau Beach Park, one sees little but a shoreline and pasture filled with kiawe, a tree brought in to feed cattle. We see in our minds a Native Hawaiian dryland forest reestablished, with stands of kou, wiliwili ʻiliahi and lama. We see an understory of plants original to that place, plants such as aʻaliʻi and ʻilima. On the kahakai side of the road, we see stands of milo and ground cover such as paʻuohiʻiaka. We see a carefully managed fishery that allows near-shore species to flourish. In the uplands of Kaulu, the watershed for a stream that is now dry, we see a native upland forest reestablished, so that water once again flows, and so that the birds of the uplands – such as ʻamakihi – return to their habitats. If this seems like an unreachable goal, think of the success of the Natural Area Reserve at Kaʻena, just down the road. Or think of the amazing success in replanting native plant colonies on Kahoʻolawe, aided by upland catchment systems. It can be done at ʻOhikilolo, and along that entire coast.

Kupuna Albert Silva, who until recently lived there, related that the name ʻOhikilolo (crazy crab) comes from periodic migrations of hundreds of crabs across the road, away from the beach. We hope to see the migration again one day.

A cultural landscape validates the cultural knowledge embedded in Native Hawaiian ʻohana (families), moʻolelo (oral literature) and ʻolelo (language). The work needed to re-create that landscape functions as pilina, to bring families closer together, to heal those caught in cycles of drugs and violence and to provide a safe environment where keiki can learn culture, ʻolelo and history. It can also function as a sustainable source of food, helping to promote healthy diets and traditional ways of life.

According to the ʻohana with ancestral ties to ʻOhikilolo, there was once a marae located there, a place where keiki were instructed and where cultural knowledge was preserved and passed on. Those families preserved the knowledge of that place, which still exists: a large rectangular enclosure now surrounded by grass and kiawe. A large part of our vision is to restore that marae, not just its stones, but to restore its traditional function.

Note: An alternate spelling is KānehunamokuHūnā is the verb form: Moku o Kāne i hūnā ai (Land that Kāne hid) or Hūnā ʻia ka moku na Kāne (The land was hidden by Kāne). Huna is the participle form: Moku huna (Hidden land). In some local ʻōhana traditions, Kānehunamoku refers to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.

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