Hawai'i: Continuing Traditions

The Hawaiian people have a rich historical and cultural tradition. Their values, art, music, gods and legends reach back thousands of years to ancient Polynesia, where they lived before sailing to the islands we know as Hawai‘'i.

Recently, there have been efforts to revitalize these traditions and teach them to young Hawaiians. Hawai'i: Continuing Traditions looks at ways in which the “"spirit of the land" lives today, as we explore special places, where old ways are thriving in the modern world.

Visit a working taro plantation in Maui and an isolated fishing village on the isalnd of Hawai‘'i. Discover how a small community in Kaua‘'i creates beautiful shell necklaces, and voyage back in time on an ancient Polynesian sailing canoe.

Ke’anae - a lush valley on Maui, where “Uncle” Harry Mitchell farms taro, the native Hawaiian staple food. He is a kupuna, or wise elder, who teaches his grandchildren how to farm and the value of respecting the land.

Ni’'ihau - a place where ‘'ohana, or family, is the center of life. Hawaiian is spoken in the homes, and leisure time is spent on the family project of stringing shells (brought from Ni'ihau) into beautiful leis (necklaces).

Miloli’'i - a fishing village on the west coast of the big island of Hawai'i. There are about 17 families residing in this peaceful village, without electricity or running water. Their lifestyle has remained unchanged in many ways since the time of their ancestors.

Hokule'a - a double-hulled voyaging canoe, modeled after the ancient Polynesian vessels which carried the first people to the Hawaiian Islands. The canoe has sailed the South Seas covering the trade and travel routes of the early Polynesians. The canoe's Hawaiian navigator is guiding the vessel without the use of a compass or other instruments. He has learned the ancient methods of wayfinding: reading the sun, stars and the ocean swells.

Hokule'a has become a symbol of continuing tradition. It was the canoe that dispersed the Polynesian peoples among the Pacific Islands hundreds of years ago. Today, Hokule'a, as she voyages in the South Seas, is unifying people with a common bond of pride and history.

The film closes on this vision of the Hokule'a, “returning to the past,” and inspires viewers with wisdom of Sam Ka'ai, an artist who has voyaged on Hokule'a: “"Pay attention to your history, it will give you a sense of belonging. Pay attention to your future, it will give you a sense of worth."

Produced by
Gail K. Evenari & Lawrence M. Lansburgh

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