Kāhuli 1 (SEPP)

The singing of the pūpū kani oe in the late night and the clear, distinct voice of the kāhuli leo leʻa welcoming the new day were special parts of our ancestral soundscape. With over 750 species in habitats from uka to kai, it’s no wonder their sounds are highlighted in hundreds of mele composed in the 1800s. Kāhuli were also the jewels of our forests, strung into lei and worn proudly by our kūpuna. Today we have lost roughly half our kāhuli species and at least another 100 are critically endangered and could disappear in the next decade. That is why we’ve chosen to partner with the Snail Extinction Prevention Program (SEPP), the team who currently mālama 40 species of kāhuli (both tree and ground snails) including the one honored here, Laminella sanguinea. This charismatic Oʻahu endemic has black lightning patterns over an ombre sunset that surely inspired some of the earliest kapa designs. However, this snail covers up those markings by coating its shell in its own poop to blend into its surroundings. It’s semi arboreal, so it spends time both on trees and on the ground. There are two wild populations in the Waiʻanae range that are protected by a predator-proof fence and are monitored regularly. Counting lab and field populations, SEPP estimates there are less than 500 of this kāhuli remaining. Snails not only have huge cultural value, they play critical roles in native ecosystems where they clean plants and cycle nutrients. We only have a decade to make sure kāhuli stay around for the coming generations. To learn more visit: dlnr.hawaii.gov/snails

Kāhuli 2 (SEPP)

Newcombia canaliculata Separation from that which sustains us is the greatest deception of “modern life.” Fresh water is a perfect example: our survival depends on it, but most people haven’t been educated on the intricate kinship networks (ecosystems and habitats) that call in, capture, and clean wai, the kinolau of Kāne that flows into their homes. Thus, many think tiny creatures like kāhuli have nothing to do with our survival. Newcombia canaliculata is one species of six in an endemic genus of snails. Once more widespread, this Molokai species is now confined to a single area above the island’s stunning north shore. A former puʻuhonua, this pristine forest is where our friend and mālama ‘āina Keahi Bustamente rediscovered this snail species, a place he calls “the palace.” These snails prefer the ʻolopua trees (Nestegis sandwicensis) of the palace and they clean the black sooty mold from their leaves, allowing for optimal health and function. Hundreds of similar relationships between snails and plants have been lost to habitat destruction and alien species, compromising our forests. “Right now, we letting the enemy storm our palace,” says Keahi, who is working to get the home of N. canaliculata protected, not just for this snail, but for the pono of the entire watershed, the ʻohana behind the rivers that flow to the sea, feeding the constant exchange between Kāne and Kanaloa, the great water cycle that sustains all life. Just like the takeover of ʻIolani palace upset our kūpuna, we should be enraged by the storming of our forest palaces, our water sources and places with the greatest connectivity to akua and kūpuna. To learn more about kāhuli: https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/ecosystems/sepp/


The Waikīkī we know today is filled with hotels, visitors, and traffic. Despite the many changes, great numbers of people still go there to celebrate the ancient sport of heʻenalu (surfing). The originators of big wave riding, Hawaiians are famous for rushing all kind of surf throughout the island chain. One popular surf break is Kalehuawehe, with its long and curling wave (Ka nalu kākala o Kalehuawehe). In ancient times, people would gather at Ulukou to watch the aliʻi (royals) ride the long, peeling breakers. Steeped in story and fascinating historical accounts, the Waikīkī area has many place names that have fallen into disuse. Our desire is to hear these names "ma ka lehelehe o ka lehulehu" (on the lips of the multitude). From Laeʻahi (Diamond head) to Kālia, many beautiful names are shown on the front of this shirt. Letʻs use these names again and honor this beautiful place as our kūpuna did!

Kai Nui, Kai Iki

He ualo na Hawaiʻiloa i mua o Kila no ka holo ʻana mai o nā kānaka mai Kahiki mai me ko Kila hānua ʻana (Ka Holomua, 6 June 1914):
E ke aliʻi, ka Wohi mai ka pūkaha o Moikeha
Ke Ēwe, ke kolikoli mai Tahiti mai,
ʻO Tahititū, ʻo Tahitimoe, ʻo Tahitiʻaleʻale he ʻāina,
Hele mai ʻo Moikeha me nā mākua kāne he ʻumi,
Hiki i Hawaiʻi Nui Ākea, i laila noho aku ʻehā o lākou,
Alo aʻe ē ka moku o Kamalālāwalu, kāohi ka maka o Kanaloa, hoʻokahi,
Kaululāʻau ka i hoʻohihi aku, lawe aku a hoʻonoho i ka lae o Kaʻena,
He iki ʻulu ia i hoʻokahi nō naʻe,
Hoʻohihi aku i ka Moku, noho i ka Pōhina o Hina,
Hoʻōla loa aku i laila, hoʻokahi,
I ka Moku nei a ʻAhualua, hoʻololohe iho lākou nei ʻehā,
Koe hoʻokahi Moikeha, ʻau i ke kai
He kai loa Kaʻieʻie i ʻau hoʻokahi ʻia,
Pae i Wailua, i ka lulu i Waimāhanalua,
Loaʻa Hoʻoipoikamalanai, he papa,
ʻŌʻili Kila, he ʻiewe, he pua na Moikeha,
ʻO Kila ʻoe! ʻO Kila i uka, ʻo Kila i kai,
He leo kalokalo, he leo ualo naʻu, na Hawaiʻiloa,
E ola au, e ola ʻo Kawailoa, e ola iā Kila, he wohi, he Liliko mai ka pō mai!
Kai Nui, Kai Iki
Our take on a traditional motif, we call these designs kai nui (big ocean) and kai iki (small ocean) and they were some of the first at Kealopiko. Their combination is a play on the ʻōlelo noʻeau “ʻIke i ke au nui me ke au iki” (Know the large and small currents), which speaks to knowing the details of something. Our kūpuna took learning seriously and to be well versed in a subject one had to know all aspects. We also play here on the idea of knowing our “local waters” as well as experiencing the larger Moananuiākea (Pacific ocean). Travels in the Polynesian triangle were part of the inspiration behind starting Kealopiko. In Tahiti, they fearlessly express their sense of color and design on modern garments. In Rapa Nui, they proudly wear traditional adornments like hulu (feathers). In Aotearoa, tā moko (Māori tattooing) and wearable arts have been on the rise. Both fashion and language are vibrant in these places and seeing this at the outset of our business reinforced the pillars we'd chosen. Similarities in language and shared place names are powerful reminders that we all come from the same root. Stories of ancestors like Hawaiʻiloa and his head navigator Makaliʻi, Moikeha, Kamahualele, Kila, Laʻamaikahiki and Kahaʻi link us to our cousins around the Polynesian triangle reminding us that we all descend from kūpuna who cultivated a deep knowledge of the seas and currents, large and small, that allowed them to sail and inhabit the vast Moananuiākea. Flip for a chant Hawaiʻiloa performed before Kila about the arrival of Moikeha and others in Hawaiʻi and their settling on different islands.

Kai Nui, Kai Iki - DaFin

Kai Nui, Kai Iki
Na ka lima kākau kaulana, na Samuel Kamakau, ka moʻolelo e kau ana ma lalo nei e pili ana i nā kūpuna i holo i Kahiki, i hoʻolaha ʻia hoʻi ma
Ka Nupepa Kuokoa (30 Kepakemapa 1865):
“ʻO Muliʻelealiʻi ke kāne, ʻo Wehelani ka wahine, ʻo Kumuhonua, ʻOlopana, Moikeha, ʻo lākou nā keiki. Ua ʻōlelo ʻia, ua kaua ʻo Kumuhonua me kona kaikaina, me ʻOlopana, a ua heʻe ʻo ʻOlopana a kaua i ka moana, a heʻe i ka moana, ʻaʻohe wahi e peʻe ai i uka, a ua lawe pū ʻia ʻo Laʻamaikahiki e ʻOlopana, a me Moikeha. ʻAʻole wahi e pae ai i Hawaiʻi. Ua holo loa ʻo ʻOlopana i Kahiki, a noho i loko o Moaʻulanuiākea. Ua lawe ʻia ʻo Laʻamaikahiki i Waihilia a noho i uka, ʻo ke kuna ka iʻa a Moikeha i lawe pū ʻia e ʻOlopana. I ka moe ʻana ʻo Moikeha iā Luʻukia [ka wahine a ʻOlopana]. ʻO ia ke kumu i hoʻi hou mai ai ʻo Moikeha a noho i Kauaʻi. [“ʻO ka wehe ʻana o Moikeha i ka ipu ʻaumakua a kona kaikuaʻana...ka wehe ʻana i ka luʻukia, ʻo Luʻuanākoʻaikamoana, no laila hoʻohalahala ʻo Moikeha a holo i ka moana.”(5 Ianuali 1867) ] A ʻo Moikeha ke kāne, ʻo Hinauulua ka wahine, ʻo Hoʻokamaliʻi, Haulaniʻaiākea, Kila, ʻo lākou nā keiki. Ua holo kēia poʻe keiki a Moikeha i Kahiki, i kiʻi iā Laʻa i aliʻi no Hawaiʻi nei. ʻO Hoʻokamaliʻi ke kāne, ʻo Keahiʻula ka wahine, ʻo Kahaʻi ke keiki. ʻO Kahaʻi kēia nāna i kanu ka ʻulu i Puʻuloa, nāna nō i holo i Kahiki, a me nā ʻāina ma ka hema, ʻo Wawaʻu, ʻo ʻUpolu, ʻo Sawaiʻi, no laila mai ka ʻulu.”
Over thousands of years of island life and an untold number of voyages, the peoples of Moananuiākea (what some call the “Pacific” Ocean) have been building a database of knowledge on stars, clouds, winds, birds, currents, waves, weather and more. It’s the brilliant hoʻoilina (legacy) of kūpuna like Hawaiʻiloa, Makaliʻi, Moikeha, Kamahualele, Kila, Laʻamaikahiki, Kahaʻi, Mau Piailug, and Sir Hekenukumaingāiwi (aka Hector) Busby, to name a few. It’s a vital body of information still LIVING in people today, and we add to it when we continue these practices. The Kai Nui, Kai Iki (Big Sea, Small Sea) designs speak to knowing one’s nearshore waters and the wider moana we all belong to. It is also a play on the ʻōlelo noʻeau (wise saying) “ʻIke i ke au nui me ke au iki” (Know the large and small currents), which means to learn the details of something in order to become well versed in it. This concept is central to navigation, where knowledge of currents both big and small is essential. These strands of knowing are not isolated, but woven together in practice. For example, Hawaiian navigators knew there were certain times of the year when conditions were optimal to leave Kealaikahiki (west Kahoʻolawe) on the current by the same name to travel on the aweawe (tentacles) of Kanaloa and reach Tahiti, where chiefs of different island groups would convene at Taputapuātea, Raiatea. These are the legacies we step into when we enter the kai (ocean) to swim, dive, fish, paddle, surf, and more. Let us honor those who boldly traveled these ocean pathways so we could live in our beautiful island homes today.

Koʻi (ʻOlopū)

Wahi a kahiko, ʻo ka hau kea o Maunakea ka wai kāpī ke hoana ʻo Wākea i ke koʻi. Auē ka nani ke noʻonoʻo iho. ʻO ʻOlopū ka inoa o ke koʻi i kālai ʻia aku ai kona waʻa a mau waʻa paha. He koʻi "haʻi kūpuna" kēia mai ka wā kōliʻuliʻu mai i hoʻoili ʻia akula i kekahi o nā aliʻi nui o ka moku o Keawe, e laʻa ʻo Hawaiʻikuauli, kāne a Lilinoe, ke aliʻi wahine i hānai ʻia ma kekahi ana ma Mauna Kea, ka mea hoʻi i maʻū kona puʻu i ka wai o Poliʻahu, he pūnāwai i luna o laila. Ua ʻōlelo ʻia he "koʻi naʻi aupuni" ʻo ʻOlopū a loaʻa maila i ka lima ʻo Kamehameha Paiʻea ma mua o ke kīlou ʻana o ua ʻiwa koa lā i nā moku. Nāna ke kahua o ke aupuni i kūkulu ʻia e kāna keiki, e Kauikeaouli, a me nā hoa kūkā a kākāʻōlelo ona. Ua palapala ʻia ihola ia moʻolelo ma ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, ka ʻōlelo hoʻi o ke aupuni Hawaiʻi. I mea e hiki ai iā kākou ke hoʻomaopopo iho i ka ʻōlelo a me ka moʻolelo Hawaiʻi, ua hoʻokumu ʻia ʻo Awaiaulu. He hui hoʻolako kumu ʻike a hoʻomākaukau mea unuhi ʻo Awaiaulu e ʻimi mau ana i nā ala e loaʻa mai ai ka ʻike Hawaiʻi i ko Hawaiʻi. A no ka mea, ʻo ka ʻike ke koʻi naʻi aupuni o kēia au. ʻO ka mea ia e kālai ʻia mai ai nā mea o ko kākou makemake, ka mea e hoʻomaopopo ai kākou i ke aupuni Hawaiʻi me kona ea e mau mai nei, ka mea nō hoʻi e holomua like ai kākou ma ke ala hoʻokahi.

An old chant tells us that the snow of Maunakea was the water Wākea used when sharpening and polishing koʻi (adzes), the most important tool of the ancient Hawaiians, who created many types of them. A koʻi named ʻOlopū was used to carve the canoes of Wākea and his people. It was a koʻi from antiquity that held in it the stories of distant ancestors and was passed down through the generations of chiefs. It was called a "koʻi naʻi aupuni", or "nation-building koʻi", befitting of Kamehameha Paiʻea, the chief who acquired it before uniting the islands under his rule. He established the foundation that his son, Kauikeaouli, built upon to secure the Hawaiian Kingdom with the help of his most trusted advisors. This kingdom and Hawaiʻi's history were extensively documented in the Hawaiian language. Awaiaulu was created to facilitate an understanding of that language and history through the development of resources and resource people, tools and toolmakers, with the drive to make Hawaiian knowledge broadly accessible to all people of Hawaiʻi. This knowledge is our modern koʻi naʻi aupuni, a tool that helps us actualize our desires, understand our kingdom and its intact sovereignty, and move forward in unity. Let us take the inspiration of ʻOlopū and sharpen our koʻi; deepen our knowledge of the past as a foundation that allows people of today to thrive and future generations to flourish. To learn more about Awaiaulu, visit their website: www.awaiaulu.org

Koʻoloa ʻUla

ʻO ka pua aloalo nui a hine wale ka mea laha loa a ohohia nui ʻia e ka hū a me ka lehulehu, eia naʻe, he mau pua ʻōiwi ko Hawaiʻi o ka ʻohana lāʻau hoʻokahi nō (Malvaceae) i like aku nō hoʻi ko lākou kūlana hiehie. ʻO ka māhele e ʻou kalalea aʻe ana mai waena aʻe o ka pua aloalo, ʻo ia ka māhele hoʻoipoipo, ka mea hoʻi e hanohano ai ia ʻohana lāʻau. ʻO ia ʻano hoʻolale like mai nō a ka uʻi ke nānā aku ka maka i nā pua o nā lāʻau ʻelua o ka lau o nei lole. Ma ke ʻano makaliʻi nō naʻe ia nani, ʻoiai he pua ʻuʻuku nō ko lāua. ʻO Abutilon menziesii, no ka ʻāina maloʻo mai nō o Hawaiʻi, Maui, Lānaʻi, a me Oʻahu. Ua nalohia loa ma ua mau ʻāina lā, akā koe maila nā ʻanoʻano, no laila ua kanu hou ʻia akula ma Oʻahu. He nui wale nā wai o ia pua, mai ka pūnono a ka lenalena, a he miʻi mīkohukohu mai nō ke kui ʻia i lei. No Lānaʻi mai ʻo Abutilon eremitopetalum a he hoʻokahi wale nō ulu koe, e kū ana i kona kau e nalo ana nō hoʻi i kekahi kau. Me he pele kani lā ke "calyx" o ia pua a hoʻonalo ʻia maila ma lalo ona nā lihilihi maoli o nei pua laha ʻole. Ke poʻo weweo e kūnou ana - The red, bowing head.

These days, it's those big, bright, iconic Hibiscus that tend to get all the attention, but Hawaiʻi has several endemic species in the same family (Malvaceae) whose blossoms are no less gorgeous. Let's be honest, it's the prominent structure that bears both the male and female sexual parts that's half the charm of flowers in this family. The two endemic species in this design have that same sex appeal, but in smaller format. Abutilon menziesii is endemic to the dry shrublands of Hawaiʻi, Maui, Lānaʻi, and Oʻahu (only 3% of which remain today). It went extinct in the wild, but seeds from wild populations were used to establish new ones on Oʻahu. These flowers come in a gorgeous range of shades from maroon to yellow and make a stunning lei when strung. Abutilon eremitopetalum is endemic to Lānaʻi, where the last wild population comes and goes with the years and seasons. Sometimes called "hidden-petaled Abutilon," the distinctive bell-shaped calyx hides the light green petals of this highly unique flower. Ke poʻo weweo e kūnou ana - The red, bowing head.

Kāmehaʻikana, Ke akua ʻulu

He mo‘olelo kēia no ko Haumea ho‘opakele ‘ana i ke ola o kāna kāne aloha, o Wākea, ka mea i hopu ‘ia no ka lawe ‘ana i ka mai‘a o ka ‘e‘a “kapu” o ke ali‘i, o Kumuhonua. Ua hauhoa ‘ia akula i ke kumu ‘ulu e kū ana ma ka ‘ao‘ao o ka imu ‘ena‘ena o kona make: “‘O ia hele nō ia o ua Haumea nei a ma mua pono o ke alo o ke kāne, ‘anehe akula e honi, ‘a‘ole na‘e i pā ka ihu i ke kāne, ‘o kona pa‘i akula nō ia i ke kumu ‘ulu. He halulu kā nā mea a pau o ka lohe ‘ana, he nāueue ‘ana ho‘i o ka honua, ‘oā a‘ela ke kumu ‘ulu a hāmama maila ia me he waha ala no kekahi ana nui. A ia wā nō i ‘onou aku ai ‘o Haumea i ke kāne i loko o ua kumu ‘ulu nei, a ‘o ia nei aku nō ho‘i ma hope. I lawa nō lāua nei a nalo i loko o ke kumu ‘ulu, ‘o ke olo a‘ela nō ia o nā leo ho‘ōho pīhoihoi o ka lehulehu, e ‘ikuā ana mai kelā pe‘a a kēia pe‘a o ka ‘aha kanaka: ʻA lilo ke pio ē! A lilo ke pio! He wahine kupua kā kēia i hele mai nei. Kā! He keu ka mana! ‘A‘ohe lua!’ Pēlā nō ho‘i i ‘ike ‘ia ai ke ‘ano akua o ua ‘o Haumea. Wahi a John Papa ‘Ī‘ī, i loko o ke kapu loulu (he ‘aha ko‘iko‘i ma ka heiau), he ‘elua nō ki‘i wahine i lawe ‘ia i mua o ke anaina, ‘o Haumea (Kāmeha‘ikana) lāua ‘o Kalamainu‘u (Kihawahine), ma mua o ke ka‘i ‘oloa, ‘o ia ho‘i ke ka‘i ‘ana aku o “nā wāhine Po‘o Aupuni” i nā malo hou (he ninikea a he ‘oloa) no nā ki‘i o ka heiau.

Kumuhonua, an unkind chief of O‘ahu, took Wākea prisoner for picking some wild bananas he found growing near he and Haumea’s home at Kilohana, Kalihi uka. Tied to an ‘ulu tree next to a blazing imu, Wākea was about to be executed. Haumea read the signs in the heavens and through the help of ‘awa divination, could see that he was still alive. She found him at Nini and told the executioner she wanted to honi her kāne one last time. Before their noses actually touched, she struck the ‘ulu tree. A roaring was heard, the earth trembled, and the tree opened like the mouth of a great cave. Haumea shoved Wākea in, entered after him, and the tree closed behind them, leaving the people in absolute awe. Kumuhonua immediately ordered that the tree be chopped down. However, the splinters and sap that flew off were lethal. It was clear that Haumea was an akua and the appropriate offerings must be made to her. This was done and the tree was felled. It was carved into a ki‘i (wooden image) and worshiped by chiefs of O‘ahu and Maui, eventually coming into the hands of Kamehameha I. Thus, Haumea earned another form, ke akua ‘ulu ‘o Kāmeha‘ikana. ‘Ulu (Artocarpus altilis) is still an important food source and the largest collection of ‘ulu in the Pacific is at Kahanu gardens in Hāna, Maui. It boasts 123 varieties each with its own unique flavor.


Our kūpuna were the original botanists in these islands. They named a huge percentage of the over 2,000 species of native plants found throughout the pae ʻāina (archipelago). Many of these plants are the foundation upon which our material culture is built. Labordia is the Latin name of the endemic genus highlighted here (this design features 5 of its 16 species). It has two sub-groups of yellow-flowered and green-flowered plants, yet most of these species were named kāmakahala by our ancestors who recognized their kinship despite their very different appearances. Plant science at its finest!!! The flowers from three types of kāmakahala were used to make lei for aliʻi (royalty) and on Kauaʻi, lei kāmakahala were reserved for chiefs alone. Famous in mele (both ancient and contemporary), pua kāmakahala (kāmakahala flowers) are often a reference to a person. One kanikau (mele of lamentation for the death of a loved one) describes the appearance of the kāmakahala in the uplands as "lamalama" (glowing, vivacious, or bright-looking) - a fitting metaphor for a makamaka (intimate friend), or anyone loved or esteemed. Those fortunate enough to be in the right habitat and come upon a kāmakahala in full bloom will know just how brilliantly they glow, like yellow stars in a sea of green. These species (six of them now endangered) once occurred from Hawaiʻi to Niʻihau, but are now restricted to certain islands and habitats.


Ka hala o ka nuʻu - The hala of the summit


*Below are the words and phrases on the Christmas card and wrapping paper*

Translations in alphabetical order:

Aloha Kalikimaka - A phrase similar to Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas), found in early Hawaiian language newspapers

ʻai a māʻona - eat till full

ʻai kole - satisfying conversation, to converse thus

hikikiʻi - to lean back, kick back, relax

hoʻohialaʻai - to cause delight

hoʻokāhiko - to deck, trim, dress in finery

hoʻokani pila - to play pila (stringed instruments), to jam

inu a kena - drink till quenched

kahiau - to give lavishly

kalikimaka - Christmas

kūkahekahe - pleasant conversation, jesting, laughing, and telling anecdotes

kukui ʻōlino - bright and dazzling lights

lāʻau ʻaʻala - Fragrant tree

lokomaikaʻi - generosity, good will, kindness

luakaha - to while away the time enjoyably

luana pū - to visit, meet/hang out with, socialize

makamaka - close friend with whom one gives and receives freely

manawaleʻa - a generous heart, charity

mehana ka hale i ke aloha - the house is warmed by love (filled with the love of family and friends)

mele - song, singing, music

nanea - relaxed, at ease, interesting, enjoyable

ohaoha - delightful, friendly

ʻohana - family

pāʻina - to have a meal together, party

pilialoha - close friends and relatives

walaʻau - to chat, talk story

Kalehuawehe Hōʻeuʻeu

Heʻe nalu (surfing), an ancient sport that chiefs and everyday people practiced with certain loina (rules or behavioral norms) has been adopted by the world. Hawaiʻi received 10.4 million tourists last year, many of whom surf or tried it out while here. This high volume of visitors takes a heavy toll on nearshore ecosystems. During ke kau malihini ʻole (lockdown 2020), the people of Hawaiʻi enjoyed surf spots without the normal crowds. Seaweed, fish, and other lāhui (species) began to rebound, reminding us of why our kūpuna mandated rest periods for places and resources. Let us further restore the mana of these places by using their traditional names. Waikīkī, the most heavily surfed area of Hawaiʻi, has many names that ALL of us can use. When we say them, we invoke our history and the ancestors who surfed these spots long before us.

The Koa Bug

Ka Puʻu Koa
E nā hoa kamaliʻi, eia mai kekahi o nā puʻu (“bug”) miʻi loa o nā mea lele a me nā holoholona maoli o ko kākou nei pae ʻāina. ʻAʻole o kana mai ke kamahoi o kona ʻōiwi! ʻO ke aha kēia nani e haʻanui ʻia aʻe nei? ʻO nā wai linolino o kona iwi kūwaho! He ʻehā ʻano ʻokoʻa o ka puʻu koa: he ʻōmaʻomaʻo kekahi i kāpīpī ʻia maila i ka ʻulaʻula; he ʻulaʻula kekahi i kāpīpī ʻia maila i ka ʻōmaʻomaʻo; he melemele kekahi; a he polū kekahi, ke ʻano laha ʻole hoʻi, no laila pōmaikaʻi loa ʻoe ke ʻike aku. ʻO ka mea kupanaha naʻe o ia mau wai a pau, he hulali maoli nō ke nānā aku, a he hōʻailona ia no ka ʻohana puʻu a ka haole e kapa aku ai he “jewel bug” a i ʻole he “metallic shield bug” (Scutelleridae). ʻAʻole naʻe hānau ʻia mai ʻo ia me kona ʻaʻahu nani a kākou e pūlama aʻe nei. He ʻulaʻula a he ʻeleʻele ke kiko aʻe mai ka hua aʻe, a laila māunu ʻo ia he ʻelima manawa ma mua o ka ʻike ʻia ʻana o kona mau wai hulali hoʻolale maka. E like me kona inoa, ʻo ke kumu koa kona wahi punahele e noho ai, akā he noho aku nō ma ke ʻaʻaliʻi a me ke koaiʻa. He mau niho kona, ʻaʻole naʻe no ka naunau ʻana, akā no ka ʻō ʻana i loko o ka hua me ka ʻomoʻomo mai i ka wai ʻono o loko. ʻO kekahi mea e hene ai paha kō ʻaka, he pili ʻohana ka puʻu koa no nā puʻu hohono (“stink bug”) o ke ao, akā ʻaʻohe ona hohono e like me nā stink bug ʻē aʻe, no laila he puʻu hohono hohono ʻole paha ma kekahi ʻōlelo ʻana! Ke ʻoe piʻi kuahiwi a hele ma kahi o nā kumu koa, e makaʻala aku nō a ʻike auaneʻi paha i kēia puʻu Hawaiʻi hoihoi loa.
Koa Bug Meet the fabulous and flashy "koa bug," known in Hawaiian as puʻu koa, and in Latin as Coleotichus blackburniae. It’s a member of the Scutelleridae family, a group commonly known as jewel bugs or metallic shield bugs because of their brilliant coloration. Koa bugs “come in four irridescent frosted colors: green with red markings and red with green, both on koa; yellow found on ʻaʻaliʻi; and a very rare blue phase” (Liittschwager & Middleton, 2001). As Hawaiʻi's largest endemic true bug, they reach up to three quarters of an inch in length. They commonly make their home in koa trees (Acacia koa), but are also found on ʻaʻliʻi (Dodonaea viscosa) and koaiʻa (Acacia koaia). They even take up residence on the alien Acacia confusa, so if you happen upon that weedy tree, keep your eyes peeled. Like other “true bugs,” the puʻu koa does not chew; it’s a sap-sucker, so it has mouthparts to pierce plants and extract their juicy goodness. Puʻu koa feed primarily on the green seed pods of the koa tree. The puʻu koa has also been called the “stinkless stink bug” because it lacks the bad odors of some of its relations. Their populations were booming until the early 1960s when four different biocontrols were introduced to fight the southern stink bug (an alien agricultural pest) and were found to also parasitize the eggs of the koa bug. Since then, their numbers have been on a steep decline, but they still occur on all the main islands. Ka puʻu noʻe pili koa - The little colored bug that clings to the koa tree.


Me he ʻupaʻi na ke koaʻe lā - like the flapping of the koaʻeʻs wings. This is a line from a chant uttered by Hiʻiaka on her epic journey from Hawaiʻi to Kauaʻi to fetch Lohiʻau ipo. She reaches the Waiʻanae district on Oʻahu and sees Kaʻena "like a bird poised in the calm". She chants to honor this beautiful place before descending into it to find a waʻa and continue her journey. Koaʻe, koaʻe kea, and koaʻe ʻula are the names of the three types of Koaʻe, or tropic birds, found in Hawaiʻi. These graceful seabirds nest high up in cliffs. They are found on other pacific islands and link us, through story and tradition, to some of our polynesian cousins.


He māpuna wai ola nā mele i waiho ‘ia mai no kākou, nā mamo a nā haku mele, pa‘a kū‘auhau, pa‘a mo‘olelo, a me nā kāhuna o ke au iō kikilo loa. He ho‘oilina ulumāhiehie wale ho‘i ia. Aia ma lalo he mau lālani no loko mai o kekahi mele e ho‘ohiwahiwa ana i ko Maui ali‘i, nā ‘ohana ho‘i o Pi‘ilani. Ma ua mele nei nō i ho‘ohālikelike ‘ia ai ka uhi o ka lae o kekahi ali‘i (‘o Kihaapi‘ilani nō paha) me ka lau u‘i o ke kino o ke kīkākapu: “He kākau kiko ‘ōni‘o i ka lae, ke kiko o ke kīkākapu, ‘o ka i‘a kapuhilia au ‘awahia.” Ua piha nei mele nani i ka ‘ike kākau uhi. Au aku ka mana‘o i ke kumu o ia mau kaha nani o ka i‘a i ‘ōlelo ‘ia he kiko ‘ōni‘o a he kī‘oki kekahi. Mea maila kekahi hoa, na Kāne mā lāua ‘o Kanaloa i kākau i ke kīkākapu. ‘O Kaukamōlī kahi o kā lāua hana, ma Kukuilamalamahe‘e i Hāmākua. He ui a he nīnau: ‘Ehia i‘a i kākau ‘ia e ke ko‘olua akua? A hua a pane, e nā hoa. ‘O ka hoa like o nei mele, ua ho‘olaha ‘ia ma ka nūpepa Ka Nai Aupuni ma lalo o ka inoa ‘o “ka pule a Kapihe.” Wahi a ka mo‘olelo, i ka wā i hānau ‘ia mai ai ‘o Kauikeaouli, hemo maila ia i waho, ‘a‘ohe hanu. Ki‘i ‘ia akula ke kahuna ‘o Kapihe. I hahau aku kāna hana i ua pule nei, nape ana ka hanu i ka houpo, a ola a‘ela ke keiki a Keōpūolani lāua ‘o Kamehameha, ke keiki ho‘i nāna i ho‘okumu i ke aupuni o kākou.

The name Kīkākapu speaks of a strong and authoritative kapu, a meaning that reflects a very different origin and purpose than the English nickname “threadfin butterfly fish” (known in Latin as Chaetodon auriga). A chant for Maui’s chiefs, handed down from antiquity, shows us this fish was indeed considered kapu and speaks of its beautiful markings (flip for those details in ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i). Because of its name, the fish was used by Kaipalaoa, “ke keiki ho‘opāpā”, the youth skilled in the art of intellectual battles that involve quick wit and an elevated understanding of metaphoric and esoteric language. Kaipalaoa goes to Wailua, Kaua‘i to avenge the death of his father, Halepākī, at the hands of the chief Kalaniali‘iloa who is completing a fence of human bones. Kaipalaoa pulls out the “pahu kapu” (the stake defining a sacred boundary) and replaces it with a kīkākapu. This clever act of ho‘opāpā begins their famous battle of wits. The kīkākapu is a common reef fish in the Indo-Pacific region, the Indian Ocean, and the Red Sea. They mate with a single partner and may defend a territory of up to 300 square feet. They feed on sea worms, anemones, coral polyps, and algae. Aquarium traders love the kīkākapu’s gorgeous markings, but we think humans and the marine world are much better off enjoying this i‘a kapu (sacred fish) in its natural habitat. Nā kī‘oki ‘ōni‘o o ka i‘a kapu - The stripes and streaks of the sacred fish.

Kapa / Kaula kākau

In celebration of ten years in business, we created a design to honor the original Hawaiian clothing makers and their art, kapa. Kapa is cloth made from the inner bark of the wauke plant (Broussonetia papyrifera) as well as māmaki or ʻulu. Integral to traditional life, kapa received newborns at birth, clothed people throughout life, and shrouded their bodies in death. As a medicine, it cured Queen Liliʻuokalani, who was suffering an ailment and was instructed by a kahuna to find a kapa paʻūpaʻū (an "overlaid" kapa, secured for her by Flora Hayes' father). Joseph ʻIlālāʻole says as many as 50 separate pieces were joined together to make a kapa paʻūpaʻū. But size did not make Hawaiian kapa unique. The gauzy quality of some types of kapa, the scenting of cloth, and the use of nao hoʻōki (watermarks), ʻohe kāpala (bamboo stamps), and a plethora of unique dye colors are things that Hawaiian kapa is famous for. A technique called kaula kākau inspired our design: A string dipped in ink is pressed onto the surface of the cloth to imprint a design, whether making straight lines or curved shapes. We mahalo the loea, or kapa experts, (likened to pueo by our ancestors) who revived this art and maintain tradition while also innovating in exciting new ways. Also seen on this design is our special ʻohe kāpala design we call ʻili ʻulu, inspired by the texture of the breadfruit skin. We chose the ʻulu as it represents growth, inspiration and abundance, plus it is ʻono loa!

He kapa maikaʻi e mehana ai ke kino - A fine cloth to warm the body.

Kōkō a Makaliʻi

He aliʻi wahine ʻo Haʻinakolo no Waipiʻo mai; ʻo ka uʻi pua kāmakahala nō ia o ka wailele ʻo Hiʻilawe. E like me ka makemake o kona makuahine, o Hina, hoʻāo ʻo Haʻinakolo me Keāniniʻulaokalani, ke keiki a Hiʻilei (ko Hina kaikaina). He aliʻi kiʻekiʻe ʻo Keānini no Kuaihelani mai. Iā lāua ʻo Haʻinakolo naʻe i hōʻea aku ai i laila, hoʻokolohe ʻia maila nō e ka makua hānai o Keānini, e Makaliʻinuikūakawaiea, “ke kupua o Kūkulu o Kahiki” a ʻo ke aliʻi kapu hoʻi o Keaoʻōlino. ʻO ia nei ka mea “nāna ke pā ipu i kapa ʻia ka huhui o Makaliʻi, i paʻa i nā kaula ʻaha i like ko lākou mau waihoʻoluʻu me ko ka lihilihi o ke ānuenue...A ʻo nā hōkū i kapa ʻia nā huhui (huihui), ʻo ia nō nā ʻā ipu a ua ʻo Makaliʻi.” ʻO Hāpaimemeue ke kaikamahine ponoʻī a Makaliʻi lāua ʻo Maʻū, a hoʻohihi ʻo ia iā Keānini. A no laila, ʻo ka hana aloha kā Makaliʻi mā. I kekahi pō, iā Keānini e noho ana ma ka hale me kāna wahine a me kā lāua lei aloha, “...ua iho maila nā kōkō a Makaliʻi, ʻo ia ke ala muku, a ʻo ke ānuenue hoʻi a kākou e ʻike nei, a hului akula iā Keāniniʻulaokalani.” Lilo ʻo ia iā Hāpaimemeue a noho pū lāua ma ke “aupuni ānuenue.” Naʻauʻauā kahi Haʻinakolo a ʻo kona hele akula nō ia i ka nahele e ʻaʻe ai i ka ʻai kapu me ka hoʻohuhū aku i nā akua nui. ʻUpu aʻe ko Haʻinakolo manaʻo e hoʻi i Waipiʻo a lele ʻo ia i luna o ka waʻa me kāna keiki, me Leimakani. Mai laila aku ʻo ia e alo ai i nā ʻīnea like ʻole ma ka hoʻi ʻana mai i Hawaiʻi a ma ke kaʻi ʻana nō hoʻi i ke ala o ka nohona...
Makaliʻi, the constellation of chiefly star ancestors above (“nā kūpuna Hōkū Aliʻi o luna”), is celebrated in many stories and songs. In the moʻolelo of Haʻinakolo, Makaliʻinuikūakawaiea is the chief of Keaoʻōlino, an ancestral realm above that sits amongst luminous clouds obscured by red mist. He’s also the keeper of a great calabash (pā ipu) that’s suspended in the kōkō a Makaliʻi, a carrying net made of sennit cords the colors of the rainbow and lit up by his stars. If we imagined opening this net up against the night sky, we could envision a grid upon which constellations could be plotted, much like how celestial knowledge is said to be studied using a net cast over a bowl of water in which the stars are reflected. Hawaiian life on earth reflects the heavens, so kōkō are used to suspend calabashes and gourds full of food and other precious items. Haʻinakolo’s kāne, Keāniniʻulaokalani, is a chief from Kuaihelani who is also the hānai son of Makaliʻinuikūakawaiea and his wife Maʻū. They use hana aloha (love magic) to make Keānini fall in love with their own daughter, Hāpaimemeue. One night while at home with his wife and son, Keānini is taken up in the kōkō a Makaliʻi, which is another name for a rainbow. The stolen chief is suspended in an “aupuni ānuenue” (rainbow realm), held in the tight embrace of Hāpaimemeue. Angry and devastated, Haʻinakolo goes into the forest where she breaks the ʻaikapu and angers Kāne, Kū, and Lono. From there, she must navigate the ups and downs of heartbreak as well as the treacherous stretch of ocean that lies between Kuaihelani and Hawaiʻi so she can return home to Waipiʻo.


From the famous papa kōnane (kōnane boards) at Kalaekimo to the din of voices in Kaunakakai, the game of kōnane was loved and played by people throughout Hawaiʻi, chiefs and commoners alike. Kōnane is all about the last move, and is an excellent way to hone the skills of strategy and foresight. It was said that Kamehameha was an expert player able to beat his opponents with unparalleled swiftness. The kumu pili (wager) agreed upon by the two players could be as small as a kiss, or as valuable as oneʻs family land, or even their life. It could settle a political dispute, or get you time alone with someone you desired. Hinaikamalama, in her kōnane game with ʻAiwohikupua, asked that the wager be their bodies, the winner able to request anything within reason. Sassy hoʻi kau! E pili nō kāua - letʻs make a bet (letʻs get close!).

Kapa / Lapa

Ou kino, e Kāne i ka ʻōlapa o ka uila, i ka lapa mauna e kū ai ka ʻohe niolo, i ka lapa ʻohe miu e hoʻonani ai i ka ʻaʻahu o ke aliʻi! ʻO ko mākou wahi kānaenae e kau aʻela i luna, he aloha a he mahalo ia i ke akua nona ka ʻohe. ʻO ka lāʻau nō ia a nā loea e hoʻolilo aku ai i mea hana no ke kaha hoʻonaninani ʻana i ke kapa, ʻo ia hoʻi ka lapa. Lapalapa ke ahi o loko ke ʻike aku ka maka i nā lau kuapapa a kupanaha a nā kūpuna i hana aku ai me ua mea hana ʻohe nei, a pēlā i ulu aʻe ai ka ʻiʻini haku lau i loko o mākou. ʻO ka mea hilu loa, he wahi ʻāpana ʻohe ka lapa akā he kini a lehu nā nani a ka lima mikiʻoi e hana aku ai ma o nei kinolau nohea o Kāne. ʻAʻole naʻe e poina a hoʻohemahema i ka inoa o Laʻahana, kekahi o nā kaikamāhine o Maikohā i lilo i ʻaumakua no ka poʻe hoʻonoʻenoʻe a kāpala i ke kapa. Iā ia paha ke kalokalo ʻana i nani kūpono kahi lau, i maiau a maʻemaʻe nō hoʻi ka hana a ka lima. A pēlā nō nā kūpuna nāna nā kapa nani ʻoi kelakela e waiho nei ma nā hale hōʻikeʻike o ka honua. Ma laila nō e ʻike ai i ke kūlana kiʻekiʻe o ka hana lapa, a he hōʻike nō ia i ka noʻeau a me nā ʻano nani i mahalo ʻia e nā kānaka ma mua o ka hiki ʻana mai o ko waho. Ke ʻike kākou i ia mau kapa kahiko, he mea paha ia e hoʻākea aku ai i ko kākou manaʻo no ia mea he kapa, a no ka mea ma mua o ka laha ʻana o ka ʻohe kāpala, ʻo ka lapa ka mea i hoʻohana nui ʻia.

If we look back to the earliest roots of kapa designs, we find the visually stunning aesthetic our kūpuna created with lapa. Lapa are bamboo tools (aka “liners”) used to decorate kapa. Some resemble a knife and are used to make a single line. Others look like forks with anywhere from two to eight “tines” (prongs), or possibly more, for making multiple lines at once. They are dipped into printing ink then pulled across the surface of a kapa. The tines also vary in thickness and spacing, allowing for endless combinations of lines. The oldest surviving kapa show us this was the prominent technique for applying design before any outside influences and prior to ʻohe kāpala becoming predominant. Some pieces were decorated exclusively with stripes of varying widths and colors. Other times an artist used a straight edge (also bamboo) to lay down bold geometric shapes, then filled them with more lines (straight and wavy), dots and other hand-accents. These techniques produced a spectacular array of designs, many of them several layers deep. The sophisticated compositions of these early pieces challenge our perceptions of Hawaiian aesthetics and show us just how intricate and imbricate design was prior to western contact. Unfortunately, many of the best examples of designs made with this simple, but elegant technology now live in overseas museums and photographs are our only point of access.


Also known to Hawaiians as pīpīwai, this indigenous "spikesedge" has been given the Latin name Eleocharis obtusa. It is a small, clumping species whose compact bunches of flowers are placed proudly at the ends of long cylindrical leaves. It likes to grow in wet areas (bogs, ponds, streams, etc.) and used to be common in loʻi kalo, where it was smashed down into the ponds to act as a natural fertilizer. This species also had important ceremonial and medicinal uses. It was employed in ceremony for a family that wanted to cleanse and ask for increased health and material prosperity. It was one of several items laid on ʻaoa (sacrificial places) at fishponds and offered in the forest when felling a tree to make a canoe. ʻAumakua moʻo who had been offended by a family member and made them sick in return were given kohekohe (and other items) in a request to lift the illness. The ʻōlelo Kōlīlili ka lā i ka maka o ke kohekohe was adapted from two lines belonging to the mele "He inoa no Leleiōhoku." One translation of this phrase is "The heat of the sun vibrates on the centers of the kohekohe flowers." The interaction of masculine and feminine in this beautiful botanical metaphor is typical of the poetry of our ancestors, which was heavily populated with these kinds of images. It reminds us, once more, how plants, in all their sexy splendor, were (and still are) a huge part of Hawaiian life.

Kūmū & Ulua

Leave it to the kūpuna (elders/ancestors) to come up with beautiful metaphors from nature to describe people and relationships. The kūmū fish is a classic metaphor for a good-looking sweetheart (male or female) and the ulua fish for a kāne that tickles the fancy of a wahine. The kūmū, Parupeneus porphyreus or Whitesaddle goatfish is endemic to Hawaiʻi and a prized delicacy. Our kūpuna commonly offered it to the gods because of its red color. These days, this beautiful fish is rare. Here the kūmū fish is in hot pursuit of the ulua. ʻAnoʻi aku i ka ulua māʻalo i kuʻu maka - Desiring the ulua that passes before me. The ulua aukea, Giant Trevally, or Caranx ignobilis, is considered a koa (warrior) of the sea. Ulua aukea are reported to exceed 200 lbs in weight. These large individuals frequently swim in vast schools in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands but are less common in the main Hawaiian Islands. They are prized by shore fisherman for a great fight.

Keaumiki | Keaukā

Ua miki ke kō a ke au kupua - The pull of the kupua current is swift.

Ocean currents were an integral part of how our kūpuna traveled the deep sea in their waʻa and continue to be important for modern day voyagers and all those involved in ocean activities. The inspirations for this design are the kupua (supernatural beings with several forms) named Keaumiki and Keaukā. These "denizens of the deep" are originally from Kuaihelani (the homeland of many Hawaiian deities) and are described in various moʻolelo as powerful currents, ebb and flow, and the gods of the tides. In addition to their own travels between Kuaihelani and the main Hawaiian islands, they are notorious for both assisting and inhibiting the journeys of others. They have helped the likes of Pele and Puniakaiʻa by making their waʻa move quickly. Conversely, they pulled Kila and his waʻa down into the ocean depths when he was traveling to Tahiti and caused similar trouble for Kaulu during his voyage to Kuaihelani in search of his brother. In the story of Hainakolo (Ka Nai Aupuni version), these kupua assume human form and thoroughly impress people with their surfing skills by catching a wave from Oʻahu to Kahoʻolawe and back. The author says when a waʻa reaches the place known as Kealaikahiki (both an ocean current and the westernmost point on the island of Kahoʻolawe), it will be taken by these kupua. It is known that Hawaiians of old went on fishing expeditions to Nihoa, Mokumanamana and other small northern islands. Maybe it was Keaumiki and Keaukā who helped to carry their fleets of canoes there and back.


About Our Name:

"Ke alopiko" means "the belly of the fish." This māhele momona (fat and sweet section) was prized by Hawaiians of old who recognized it as the choicest part of the animal, as in this ʻōlelo noʻeau (traditional saying): I ka piko nō ʻoe lihaliha - Eat of the belly and you will be satisfied. Breaking the word alopiko down reveals further layers of meaning. The alo, or the front of the body, is what we present to the world. The piko, or navel, where we once were connected to our mothers in the womb, is the piko that connects us to the present, to our living relatives, and to those with whom we share space (there are 2-3 other piko on the body, depending on who you ask). We believe the perfect things for adorning the alo and the kua (back) and for inspiring the waihona noʻonoʻo (mind) are designs honoring the rich natural and cultural heritage of Hawaiʻi. We also believe in minimizing our impact on the ʻāina (land) and kai (sea), so we use eco-friendly materials and donate a percentage of our profits to organizations aligned with our mission (learn more about us at kealopiko.com). Our logo is the moi, a sweet and delicious fish that was highly prized by our ancestors and is still sought after today. Like ʻawa and ʻanae, moi feeds on limu (algae) and is often cultivated in fish ponds.

Ka Mōʻī Kalākaua

To celebrate 50 years of the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, we created a design honoring both the Merrie Monarch himself, King David Laʻamea Kalākaua, as well as the cultural cornerstone he restored to its rightful place: our beloved hula. It was one of several practices the Mōʻī (King) delved into (others included genealogy and Hawaiian medicine) on his quest to heal and raise the consciousness of his people and to "Hoʻoulu lāhui" (grow the Hawaiian population, which had been reduced by more than half since the introduction of foreign diseases). The book "Na Mele Aimoku, Na Mele Kupuna, a me Na Mele Ponoi o Ka Moi Kalakaua I" is a selection of some of the hundreds of chants gifted to Kalākaua or collected by him and his genealogy committee before, during, and after the celebration of his 43rd birthday. "Kiekie Kona i hapai ia e ka pohu, He Inoa No Kalakaua," by Kaihua, is one of these selected mele. It is filled with strong and beautiful sun imagery; a take on his name that is a refreshing departure from the commonly known literal translation "the day of war" (Ka-la-kaua vs. Ka-la-kau-a). One literal translation of the line "Ka lapa uila olapalapa i ka la" is The flash of lightning in the day/sun. But the line also evokes things other than the lightning, such as the flutter and flash of ʻōlapa leaves in the sunlight, this energy being embodied by the hula dancer (another meaning of ʻōlapa), and the awakening of consciousness that happens when we allow this dance of life to dance us. Certainly Kalākaua knew these things and wanted us to keep dancing. Mahalo nui iā ʻoe e Ka Mōʻī Kalākaua, i kēia makana aloha āu i hoʻoili mai ai ma luna o mākou. *Note: We have chosen to align with the style of the original text and not use diacritical marks on the ʻōlelo for this shirt.


Duck...duck...goose! Kakā is actually a generic name for a duck and also means to quack, or make a duck-like noise. Similarly, nēnē refers to the goose itself, and also to the sound it makes, which has been likened to the cries of an infant. Although this is a takeoff on a non-Hawaiian children's game (touching someone's head is a sensitive subject in Hawaiian culture), it is also fun way to showcase some of Hawaiʻi's finest and most rare birds! The koloa (Anas wyvilliana) is an endemic Hawaiian duck once found on all the main islands, but now considered critically endangered and restricted to Hawaiʻi, Maui, and Oʻahu. The introduced Mallard duck (Anas platyrhyncos) breeds aggressively with A. wyvilliana and hybrid ducks are the result. Purebred koloa are now rare, numbering in the low hundreds. Mongoose, rats, cats, and other alien critters prey on the nests of the koloa. Habitat loss and over-hunting have also contributed to the decline of the species. The Laysan duck (Anas laysanensis), also endemic, used to be found throughout the Hawaiian islands, but many of the same issues caused the species to be reduced down to a single breeding pair on the northwest island of Laysan! Captive breeding and release programs helped this population to rebound and successful introductions to Midway atoll have also been achieved. The nēnē goose (Branta sandvicensis) is the official bird of the State of Hawaiʻi, and shares a similar story to its duck friends. This species was hunted to near extinction in the 1940s before hunting laws changed and rescue efforts were established. There are now upwards of 800 nēnē in the wild. Still endangered, the endemic goose is found only on Hawaiʻi, Maui, Molokai and Kauaʻi. Nēnē can be seen roaming free in Haleakalā National park on Maui, where visitors know to NOT feed them.

Kapa / Uila

Kauilanuimakaʻehaikalani - Nani ka pōhihihi o ke kālailai ʻana i ke ʻano o nā akua Hawaiʻi. ʻO kahi mea akāka leʻa a nā kūpuna i hōʻike noʻeau mai ai ma nā mele koʻihonua, ua māhele ʻia ua mau akua nui nei i loko o nā mea like ʻole. Pēlā hoʻi ʻo Kāne, ke akua nona nā kinolau he nui manomano e piha ai ka lani (a me ka honua): ʻO nā hōkū kapu a Kāne, ʻo ka mahina nui a Kāne, ʻo ka lā nui a Kāne i hoʻolewa ʻia i ka lewa nui a Kāne. He mau kinolau kēia e pili ana i ke ahi hulili a me ka wela okooko. Pēlā nō hoʻi ke kinolau e hāpaimemeue ʻia nei ma ka lau nei, ʻo ka uila hoʻi. ʻO Kauilanuimakaʻehaikalani kekahi o nā kinolau uila o Kāne (ʻo kekahi inoa ʻo Kauilanuimākēhāikalani a me Kauilanuiʻoakaikalani). ʻO ka hōʻeu, ke kukupu, a me ka ʻīnana nā hana a Kāne, a ua like paha nā hana a kēia kinolau nei ona, ʻo ia hoʻi, he lalapa, he ʻoaka, a he ʻanapa mai nō i nā wā ʻano koʻikoʻi paha (e laʻa ka hānau ʻia mai o kekahi aliʻi). Ma mua o ka hehi ʻana o ka wāwae i ke ala hou, ma ka hoʻomaka ʻana i kekahi hana hou, ma ka hoʻomohala ʻana i nā mea hou e holomua ai ʻo kānaka, ma ia mau wā nō e kāhea aku ai iā ia. Pēlā ʻo Kamiki mā i ka wā e ʻailolo ana no ka paʻa mai o ka ʻike lua. Pēlā nō hoʻi ʻo Pele i ka wā i haʻalele ai ʻo Hiʻiaka i kona huakaʻi, kāhea ʻo ia i kēia kaikunāne o lākou e “pili i ka pāʻū” o kona lei i hiʻia i ka poli. He laʻana nui kēlā e maopopo ai, ua mana wale ka uila ma ka pale ʻana i ka ʻino a me ka wehe ʻana i ke ala hou. Ma kona ʻano he mea e pili ai ko ka lani me ko ka honua, he hōʻailona nō hoʻi no ka mana kuʻuna o nā aliʻi a me ka ʻike kuʻuna o nā kupuna nui o kākou iō kikilo loa. E hoaka mai nō ka miu o kou ʻihi lani, e ke akua ē!

Our akua, in all their splendor, are numerous, often tangible, and threaded throughout our living world, enlivening its fabric and constantly shaping our human experience. Kāne’s presence is ubiquitous; the incredible heat of his kapu radiates from the sun and animates the moon, stars, and all the celestial bodies we see in the sky, which he also created. He breathes the light of life into earth’s vegetation, sustaining us at a fundamental level. His myriad kinolau (physical forms) delight and often inspire awe, like the one being honored here: uila (lightning). Uila is one of Kāne’s most powerful manifestations, reaching temperatures hotter than the surface of his sun. This akua is recognized by several names including Kauilanuimakaʻehaikalani and he is summoned when we begin new endeavors, embark on new paths, and innovate to improve. He keeps pernicious influences at bay and protects our efforts as we launch off in new directions. This is perhaps why Pele called this brother of theirs to come and put his mana into Hiʻiaka’s “lightning skirt” before she set off on her journey. Hiʻiaka summons him herself when faced with foes and uses the power of her skirt to defend herself against them. Together with Kānehekili, their storms cleanse and remove obstacles through fire and water. Uila is a common motif seen on some of the oldest surviving kapa in museums today, pieces that likely belonged to chiefs whose divine inheritance is symbolized by this beautiful form.

Kapa / Watermark / Nao Hoʻōki

Ke hoʻōla hou ʻia kekahi hana Hawaiʻi, ʻo ka pahuhopu nui, e hoʻōla pū ʻia mai kona mau huaʻōlelo kūpono. ʻAʻole naʻe ia he niau palanehe wale nō me ka maʻalahi loa. I kekahi manawa, he loaʻa liʻiliʻi mai nā huaʻōlelo i loko o ke au ʻana o ka manawa. Pēia nō paha ka huaʻōlelo no ia mea he “watermark.” Ke waiho nei nō kekahi mau inoa lau ponoʻī (maka ʻupena, iwi puhi, a pēlā aku), ʻaʻohe naʻe huaʻōlelo hoʻokahi i maopopo no ia huina lau. I nānā aku ka hana i ke kumu, ua loaʻa kā kekahi mea kūpono paha: ʻo ka nao hoʻōki. E kaulona aku i kā Kamakau no ka āio (grooves) a me ka nao (ridges or raised areas) o ka iʻe kuku: “...inā he iʻe kuku pepehi, he iʻe kuku nunui ia o ka nao, a ʻo ka iʻe kuku hoʻopaʻi o ke kapa, he ʻuʻuku iho ka nao, a ʻo ka iʻe kuku hoʻōki, a hoʻomaikaʻi loa i ke kapa he makaliʻi loa ia, he kahuahāʻao (uahāʻao), he ʻolē, he mole, he uananahuki a me nā nao hoʻōki he lehulehu a ka poʻe loea kuku...” ʻO ia mau nao hōʻike he lehulehu i ʻōlelo ʻia aʻela, na ke kahuna hole iʻe kuku ia o ka wā ma mua. Ke waiho nei ma nā iʻe kuku he 650 o ka Hale Hōʻikeʻike o Bīhopa a he kupanaha maoli nō ke nānā aku. Ma hope o ka hiki ʻana mai o ka haole me kona lole kīnohinohi, māhuahua aʻela nā lau like ʻole o ka nao hoʻōki. ʻO ka uahāʻao naʻe paha kekahi nao hoʻōki kahiko i laha i ka wā ma mua: “...ke kīhei uahāʻao i kuku ʻia e ko Hawaiʻi nei, a ua kapa ʻia e ka poʻe kahiko a hiki iho nei i kēia hanauna, ua ʻōlelo mau ʻia ia kapa he uahāʻao. ʻAʻole nō paha i nalowale kekahi o ia kapa i waena o kēia lāhui e noho nei i kēia wā ma nā ʻāina kuaʻāina.” (Kepakaʻiliʻula, 1865)

It’s hard to believe that cloth made from the inner bark of a small tree can range from lace and gossamer to corduroy and canvas, but Hawaiian kapa truly runs the gamut of types and textures. The finer, more lightweight varieties of kapa bear the dazzling and sophisticated feature unique to Hawaiian bark cloth: the watermark. These are textural patterns seen only when the cloth is held up to the light. They are carved into the iʻe kuku (four-sided beater) and beat into the kapa in its final stage of manufacture. The wauke fibers must be retted (broken down through a process akin to fermentation) in order to be soft and yielding enough to receive and hold these delicate markings. Wauke varieties such as poʻaʻaha and mālolo are best for watermarking, as the thick, coarse fibers of wauke nui do not ret well. Roughly a dozen or so geometric motifs have been used in a huge range of combinations by Hawaiian carvers to produce a fascinating array of watermark patterns, best seen on the roughly 650 iʻe kuku held at the Bishop Museum. Today, contemporary carvers remix old themes and create new ones. Watermark patterns can have personal significance to a kapa maker who may use them with a specific intention in mind. Iʻe kuku with multiple patterns, like the one that inspired this design, are rare and represent a high point in the evolution of this incredible art form. For this design we chose to layer the traditional patterns known as pūʻili hāluʻa, hāluʻa pūpū, and iwi puhi.


In the second wā of the Kumulipo (a great genealogical chant of creation), amidst a host of other splendid sea creatures, emerges the puhi kauila (kauila eel), guarded by its land companion, the kauila tree. Could this pairing have to do with the use of these two things in magic? One story tells of the use of puhi kauila (Enchelycore pardalis) to heal as well as to bring harm. Also known as the Dragon Moray, this magnificent snake-like creature is a sight to behold. Its orange, red-brown, white and black markings and patterns are nearly as fascinating as its horns and nose appendages. Noted for its aggressive behavior, the puhi kauila is not one to be messed with. Still, aquarium traders eagerly ferret out this one-of-a-kind eel (a possible cause for its declining populations). It is found throughout the Pacific, but its numbers are falling in the main Hawaiian islands. Two distinct endemic tree species are recognized by the name kauila: Alphitonia ponderosa and Colubrina oppositifolia. A. ponderosa was once found on all the main Hawaiian islands, except Niʻihau and Kahoʻolawe, but is now threatened. Molokai individuals were known as one of the three kālai pāhoa trees, whose implications in magic are many. The endangered C. oppositifolia is unique to Oʻahu and Hawaiʻi islands and its numbers are perilously low. The wood of both of these species are some of the most valuable timber of the Hawaiian dryforests - now one of the most rare habitat types in the islands. Incredibly dense, close grained and strong, these woods were used for various spears and weapons, iʻe kuku (kapa beaters), ʻōʻō (digging sticks), kāhili (feather standards), papa olonā (olonā scraping boards) and more. Ke kauila nioniolo lālā ʻole o uka - The straight and branchless kauila of the uplands, ke kauila pepeʻe o kai - The twisted kauila of the sea.

The Koa Butterfly

Hey kids, did you know that there are only two butterflies native to Hawaiʻi? That's right, the Kamehameha butterfly (Vanessa tameamea), and our friend here, the koa butterfly, or Udara blackburnii, as it's known in Latin. It is called the koa butterfly because it likes to lay its eggs on koa (Acacia koa) and other native plants like koaiʻa (Acacia koaia), ʻaʻliʻi (Dodonaea viscosa), olomea (Perottetia sandwicensis) and mamaki (Pipturus albidus). It lays eggs on some introduced plants too. The little caterpillars that hatch from those eggs eat the leaves of these plants, but the adults sip the nectar from all kinds of flowers. The wings of this gorgeous butterfly (which span less than an inch) are blue on the top and green underneath, but it is their sparkle-shine that is the real magic. The fancy word that describes this is iridescent which means "showing luminous colours that seem to change when seen from different angles." In butterflies this is caused by light passing through millions of tiny overlapping scales and reflecting off again. Our kūpuna had lots of words for shiny and sparkly, but we chose lilelile because it just seems to fit this little pulelehua.


Kai ka lilelile! - Oh-so shiny!

Kāhuli Leo Leʻa

Kāhuli Leo Le‘a

A clear and distinct sound, a voice from the forest welcoming the new day, kāhuli leo leʻa were an integral part of our ancestral soundscape. They are highlighted in hundreds of mele composed well before the living generations inherited this earth. The jewels of our habitats, kāhuli were once strung into lei and worn proudly as a thing of beauty. Sadly, these kūpuna now face imminent peril. Dave Sischo, head of Hawaiʻi’s SEPP (Snail Extinction Prevention Program), summarized the situation: “Hawaiʻi had an incredible land snail radiation. We had over 750 species in 13 different families from coastal strand ma kai all the way up to some of the highest uka areas. The islands were dripping in snails. About half of those are extinct already and we have about 100 species that we think are vulnerable to extinction right now. Within this decade they could all be gone.” Habitat destruction and introduced predators (Euglandina spp.) plus climate change make survival a major challenge for these beautiful members of our non-kanaka ʻohana. That is why Kealopiko has chosen SEPP as our hoa Makamaka for 2023, the year of the kāhuli. They currently mālama 40 species of kāhuli (tree and ground snails) in field and lab sites. If better funded, they could expand their efforts to include more critically endangered species. Kāhuli not only have huge cultural value, they play critical roles in native ecosystems where they help to clean plants and cycle nutrients. We only have a decade to make sure kāhuli stay around for the coming generations. To learn more and donate visit: https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/ecosystems/sepp/


What Hawaiians call kokiʻo or hau hele ʻula are four species that comprise an endemic genus of small trees called Kokia (belonging to the larger hibiscus family, Malvaceae). These species have flashy bright red flowers that are quite large. Whereas many species in the hibiscus family have a circular presentation of petals (radial symmetry), the petals of the kokiʻo are unevenly spaced (bilateral symmetry) with a slight twist and curve to suit the the beak shapes of the birds who once pollinated them. It is said that a single flower can produce huge amounts of sweet nectar (possibly the most of all the native flowers) that it is rich in both sugars and proteins. Like big jugs of juice, these flowers would have provided power packed meals to large honeycreepers. It is rumored that the flowers were used in lei and also to produce pink and lavender dyes. A red dye was extracted from the sap of the bark for dyeing fishing nets and this sap was also used to treat thrush. Kokia lanceolata is now extinct on Oʻahu and the other three species are all highly endangered. K. cookei, a Molokai endemic now exists only in botanical gardens grafted onto the species K. kauaiensis from Kauaʻi and K. drynarioides, from Hawaiʻi, may have fewer than ten plants left in the wild


This unassumingly beautiful shell bears the Latin name Nerita polita and is found throughout Hawaiʻi and other tropical areas. Preferring a discreet lifestyle, they stay nestled down in the sand between the rocks at the high tide line during the day. At night, they emerge and crawl onto the rocks to feed. A special structure with rows of curved teeth is used to rasp and scrape diatoms and other yummy microscopic algae from the rocks. Hawaiians have always collected these shells to eat and make adornments from. Ornaments for both the wrists and ankles are called kūpeʻe and are often made from the shells (who was named after who?). They draw the eye to the hands and feet of the hula dancer and make a beautiful sound when the body moves. Lei ʻāʻī, or strung objects worn about the neck, are also made from these shells. In times past they were worn when mourning the death of an aliʻi (chief). A very famous lei kūpeʻe that once belonged to Kapiʻolani can now be found at the Bishop Museum. This lei was made from shells gifted to her when she traveled the islands. Found within each shell was a small scrap of paper bearing the name of the place it came from and the type of shell it is. Charcoal colored shells are most common and, according to Mary Kawena Pukui, rainbow colored shells or ones with a red stripe were not for makaʻāinana (everyday people). Today, high levels of harvesting are having an impact on kūpeʻe populations throughout Hawaiʻi. Because the largest shells produce the most babies, collecting those of medium size may help to preserve this precious resource.


Kū i ka pō, peʻe i ka lā - Come out at night, hide during the day.

Ka ulua e me ke kūmū (kāne)

Leave it to the kupuna (elders/ancestors) to come up with beautiful metaphors from nature to describe people and relationships. The kūmū fish is a classic metaphor for a good-looking sweetheart (male or female) and the ulua fish for a kāne that tickles the fancy of a wahine. The ulua aukea, Giant Trevally or Caranx ignobilis, is considered a koa (warrior) of the sea. Ulua aukea are reported to exceed 200 lbs in weight. These large individuals frequently swim in vast schools in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands but are less common in the main Hawaiian Islands. They are prized by shore fisherman for a great fight. Here the ulua fish is in hot pursuit of the kūmū. He hialaʻai wale kā kuʻu maka e hana ai - My eyes delight in devouring her beauty. This ʻōlelo was uttered by a character in the story of


Kualunuiaola as his eyes feasted on the incredible beauty of a certain chiefess. The kūmū, Parupeneus porphyreus or Whitesaddle goatfish is endemic to Hawaiʻi and a prized delicacy. Our kūpuna commonly offered it to the gods because of its red color. These days, this beautiful fish is rare.



Nani ke oho o ke kupukupu o Kānehoa,
Lupea nō i ka hau o Kalena,
ʻAʻala ka hanu o ka mauʻu nēnē,
I ka hoʻopē ʻia e ka ua kakahiaka,
Ala nā maka o ka palai o uka,
Ala nō, liʻa i ke anu a ka Waikoloa,
Kūkū pono nā lihilihi o ka lehua i ka ua,
Pehu ke koali ua honi i ka wai,
Aloha maila au iā Malamanui,
I ke kula o Pūleʻe i Kanoenoe,
ʻO ʻoukou kaʻu e uē aʻe nei,
I ka hele o māua me kuʻu aloha,
Koe iho ʻoukou i kauhale,
I kūlana hale hoʻi o kākou,
Aloha nō—ē
Ma ka moʻolelo o Kamaakamahiʻai, he aliʻi wahine ʻo Kahelekūlani no Oʻahu mai. I kekahi lā, manaʻo ihola lāua me kāna kāne, me Olopana hoʻi, e hele i Kauaʻi, i ka wā naʻe o ka hoʻolālā ʻana, uē nui ana ʻo ia i ke aloha i nā kūpuna me nā mākua a puka aʻela kēia mele. He hōʻike kēia i kona aloha i ka ʻāina i noho ʻia me ka ʻohana (Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 31 Dec. 1870).
As creation and evolution unfolded in the beautiful and varied habitats of Hawaiʻi nei, ferns luxuriantly proliferated, eventually comprising 27% of our native flora. Growing in wet, dry and mesic environments, they perform critical ecosystem functions like buffering rainfall, mitigating runoff, and providing homes for a variety of creatures (insects, snails, birds, etc). Ferns were once found in glorious profusions all over. Their beauty and fragrance made them some of the most popular greenery for decorating spaces, adorning the body, and even scenting kapa. But their populations have suffered under habitat destruction and the onslaught of alien species, as most ferns are low-growing and easily eaten by hungry pigs, goats, and deer. Kupukupu, however, are fairly hearty and they belong to a genus of sword ferns called Nephrolepis; N. cordifolia is indigenous and N. exaltata subsp. hawaiiensis (aka ʻōkupukupu) is endemic. Exaltata (“exalted”) perfectly describes these proudly erect blades that stand singly, but “pop up” (kupu aʻe) together in abundance, likely the reason they’re used on hula altars, encouraging knowledge to sprout amply. As ferns go, kupukupu is fairly easy to propagate, making it popular for lei as well. Kupukupu abounds in traditional mele and compositions from times when native ecosystems were more intact tell us that it was often found with mauʻu nēnē. According to the kūpuna, where the two grew together generously, their fresh, delicate scent would perfume the air.

Kāhuli - Laminella sanguinea

The singing of the pūpū kani oe in the late night and the clear, distinct voice of the kāhuli leo leʻa welcoming the new day were special parts of our ancestral soundscape. With over 750 species in habitats from uka to kai, it’s no wonder their sounds are highlighted in hundreds of mele composed in the 1800s. Kāhuli were also the jewels of our forests, strung into lei and worn proudly by our kūpuna. Today we have lost roughly half our kāhuli species and at least another 100 are critically endangered and could disappear in the next decade. That is why we’ve chosen to partner with the Snail Extinction Prevention Program (SEPP), the team who currently mālama 40 species of kāhuli (both tree and ground snails) including the one honored here, Laminella sanguinea. This charismatic Oʻahu endemic has black lightning patterns over an ombre sunset that surely inspired some of the earliest kapa designs. However, this snail covers up those markings by coating its shell in its own poop to blend into its surroundings. It’s semi arboreal, so it spends time both on trees and on the ground. There are two wild populations in the Waiʻanae range that are protected by a predator-proof fence and are monitored regularly. Counting lab and field populations, SEPP estimates there are less than 500 of this kāhuli remaining. Snails not only have huge cultural value, they play critical roles in native ecosystems where they clean plants and cycle nutrients. We only have a decade to make sure kāhuli stay around for the coming generations. To learn more visit: dlnr.hawaii.gov/snails

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