“E Kū i Ka Hoe Uli; a e Kohi i Ka Pale Kai”
Take Hold of the Steering Paddle; And Press it Against the Boat’s Side
(Steer free; steer your own course)
On the eve of the arrival of British Captain James Cook at Waimea, Kaua‘i in January 1778, a prophetic chant called ‘Ūlei Pahu i ka Moku was given voice by a priest whose identity has been lost in antiquity.
The chant, however, endured. A vision of drastic change to come to Hawai‘i at the hands of foreigners who would overrun our coral islands; a warning that our people would be overcome…but then in the midst of despair, a call to resist, to seize the steering paddle of the canoe and press it to the side, resisting the pull of the tide and the current.
Undaunted by space or time, this words of this chant continue to speak, continue to admonish our generation and the next to hold fast, press firmly and resist being swept up by the tide of change imposed on us. We need not languish in hopelessness or despair. We will resist, rise up and determine our destiny for ourselves; as indigenous peoples we will steer our own course.
The vision for the Festival logo was to create an iconic symbol that would not only emblematize the 13th Festival of Pacific Arts in a distinctly Hawaiian way, but a symbol that would reflect the mana of Hawai‘i’s indigenous people and uplift and highlight Kanaka Maoli cultural integrity.
The design incorporates the pe‘a (sail) for a voyaging canoe and motifs inspired by the ‘uku ko‘ako‘a (coral polyp). Use of the pe‘a reflects the voyaging ingenuity of our kūpuna (ancestors) and ties to the paddling metaphor of the Festival theme. Adorning the pe‘a are coral polyp motifs. The coral polyp imagery was inspired by the Kumulipo, the Hawaiian creation chant that provides the primary cultural framework shaping the Hawaiian world view.
Coral was created at the beginning of time, born out of the darkness. In the first Wā (era) described in the Kumulipo it states “Hanau ka ‘uku ko‘ako‘a, hanau kana, he ‘ako‘ako‘a, puka” (Born was the coral polyp, born was the coral, came forth). In the Hawaiian world view, coral is an essential and foundational element from which spring forth other lifeforms ma kēia Honua (on planet Earth). The coral polyp signifies the physical and spiritual familial connection between kanaka (humanity) and our Earth Mother, Papahānaumoku. Given the powerful, symbiotic relationship between humanity and the earth, Pale decided to utilize the imagery of coral polyps as the creative aesthetic foundation for his design strategy.
This imagery also speaks directly to the larger, urgent issue affecting Moana Pākīpīkā (the Pacific Ocean), and by extension, the entire Honua. Specifically, the need to call awareness to the astonishing and rapid death of our coral reefs due to rising ocean temperatures, a consequence of global warming.
As rainforests are to the land, so are coral reefs to the sea. A quarter of all marine creatures live in coral reefs and are dependent upon the nutrients and food found therein for survival. As the reefs die, so, too, do the marine animals who rely upon them, and so forth.
Thus, this imagery is a reminder; a call to action to mālama (protect) this essential, irreplaceable part of our ecosystem. Should the coral reefs continue to die, all of humanity is imperiled.