PŌHAKU - the First Collection

Anna Kahalekulu-39.jpg


For the 2016 MAMo Wearable Art Show at the Hawai‘i Theatre, the collection was titled, “PŌHAKU” or rock. This collection was inspired by the recent, widespread, steadfast, aloha ‘āina energy and the all-telling, simple phrase:  Ua lawa mākou i ka pōhaku.  I ka ‘ai kamaha‘o o ka ‘āina.  The rocks are enough for us.  The astonishing food of the land.

It is amazing that we are in a place where the narrative of our kūpuna during the political turmoil of 1893 is still relevant today.  But what I pondered was, “What does it mean?  How are pōhaku enough for us?” They were the answer for our kūpuna but are they still the answer for us? 

There were the more obvious reasons: pōhaku are the foundation of our ‘āina, the foundation of the hale, the walls of the heiau, the walls of the fish pond.  Pōhaku were used for birthing children, preparing food, for building strength, for fashioning tools, for preparing kapa.  Pōhaku were even used in many of the moves on the mauna to block development.  But Mele ‘Ai Pōhaku and the words struck a little deeper than that.  They painted pōhaku as enough to sustain an entire community not only as a tool or building material, but as their food, their spirit, their essence.  

The idea occupied my thoughts and I began to find pōhaku everywhere throughout my daily life.  They had always been there but I really began to look at them.  As I noted their beauty,  individuality, and sense of belonging, she realized, “of course!”.  Ua lawa mākou i ka pōhaku.  The rocks are enough for us.  

Pōhaku are everywhere, adapted to their particular homes, and so stunningly beautiful.  The pōhaku at the kahakai are reds and blacks and covered in salt spray.  The pōhaku in the kuahiwi are beautiful browns and greys and adorned with moss and lichen.  Pōhaku line drained kahawai and wait for the waters to return.  Pōhaku are the well-trodden path of our kūpuna that are hardly used today.  But they continue to exist and outlast time.  They are us.  They are our future.  They are our kūpuna.  I ka ‘ai kamaha‘o o ka ‘āina.  The astonishing food of the land.

Make-up - Jillian Miyamura of Wewehi ka Maka Beauty.  Hair - Sanoe Hunt.  Models - Kapalai‘ula de Silva, Matthew Solomon, Pualani Steele, Christina Gamayo, Jessi Botti, Anuhea Mertens, Pua Sterling, Kyra Ka‘alekahi, Kahikina de Silva.  Photos courtesy of PA‘I Foundation.