Kama i ka Huliau

The Eleventh Festival of Pacific Arts

Nicholas Tomasello

(A small selection of his approximately 6000 FPA photos; contact Nick at nicasello.com for further information.)

‘Au‘a ‘ia e kama ... kama, kama, kama i ka huliau

Hold fast, child ... child, child, child of the turning tide

We were told that the stubborn people of Langalanga, Malaita, are the last of the Solomon Islanders to make the shell-bead currency of which the ten-strand akwala afu, shown above, is a highly prized form. Although the official theme of the Solomons-hosted 11th FPA was “Culture in Harmony with Nature,” the underlying question posed by each of the four festivals we‘ve attended is that of identity in a time of change. These festivals strengthen our will and capacity to ‘au‘a (to hold fast, to refuse to part with), and they allow us to recognize and honor that defiance in other people of the turning tide.

Fifteen of Hawai‘s delegates to the Solomons, all of them HMI dancers, wrote essays about their festival experiences. Another posted a series of Wordpress blogs. Although these writings range, in detail, from steering paddles to trash-burning, all of them address the same issues of who and how. Who we are. How we navigate the huliau.


Kalani Kaanaana

Wa‘a Connections

The light grew brighter, and a fleet of war canoes from the Solomon Islands' Western Province began to materialize in front of us – sleek, low-profile outlines that looked particularly small and swift against the large, still waʻa behind them.


Kapua Sterling

Pacific Connections

It forced us into realizing both how privileged we are to have access to certain luxuries and also how many of the material articles we deem necessities are actually extremely inconsequential.


Kila‘ana Miyamura

All Day, Every Day

Being in Solomon Islands, I was surrounded 24/7 with experts of my culture. I was able to eat, breathe, and live it for 16 days straight. I felt so fulfilled. I was able to learn and witness the living works of our culture all day long.


Lili‘u Tomasello

Performance in Seragi, Western Province

There were men and women, listening to the narration and nodding in understanding. There were kūpuna, smiling broadly to see the hula of our old people. There were teenagers, engaged in a way that modern technology doesn't quite allow here at home.


Lilinoe Sterling

Kūpa‘a i ka ‘Āina Malihini

It was in that moment that I felt the weight of the stereotypes oppressing my lāhui Hawaiʻi. It was a feeling that I had been sheltered from, thanks to generations of hard working, tireless, fearless kūpuna, who wouldn't stand for being misrepresented or misunderstood.


Makanani Akiona

Gifts of Honiara

I have witnessed how the introduction of Western practices and alien species have affected Pacific Island peoples and our homelands, as each lāhui struggles to maintain the ways of our ancestors, in balance with changing times and threatened resources.


Mel Salangdron

Hawaiian Enough

What could I possibly offer as a representative of Hawaiʻi, the nation? For lack of better words, I felt that I was not Hawaiian enough. Up until hula, the most Hawaiian thing I had done was to have Hawaiian children. What could I hope to accomplish with the handful of hula that I have paʻa?


Miala Leong

Mea Hana Noe‘au Hawai‘i: Artisans at the Festival of Pacific Arts

Aunty Maluihi once told me, "You don't go right to making a hat. You have to start with the foundation – picking, cleaning, all the things some people would like to skip. But you cannot skip any of that."


Momi Ramolete

Manawa Haipule

When speaking about my country and my people in front of that eager crowd, my whole perception was changed. My actions and my words became their experience of what Hawaiian people are all about.


Moses Goods

Connecting with the Keiki

They trust each other so much that no one worries about a child venturing off because they have confidence someone will look after them. When we were teaching these children to play games, I realized that I was that someone. What an amazing way to live!


Puakenamu Leong

Building a Stronger Lāhui

Whether it was a conscious development or not, we all seemed to come to the understanding that if we were not functioning as a cohesive unit, there was no way that we would be able to present – or to be – a strong, unified Hawai‘i.


Pualani Steele

Welo Ana Ku‘u Hae Hawai‘i

Just when we thought we could not have been filled with more pride and aloha for our nation, we noticed a huge portion of the crowd, filled with hundreds of school children, begin to flutter and transform before our eyes.


Puanani Connolly

A Sense of Community

People at home would probably panic if they saw my son in a canoe by himself. But if he could paddle by age five, he would grow to know the reefs by heart, the limu by smell, the wind by taste, and moons by the feel of the current on the koa grains of his waʻa.


Bruce Howell

Old Hawai‘i Reflected in the Faces of the Solomons

I find that the connection to the past that sense of discovery – is not only still with me but it is thriving. It is present in every action, interaction, and thought. It has strengthened my confidence, tempered my sense of self, and shifted the way I view my cultural commitment.


Travis Wong

E Mālama i ka ‘Āina

The people of the Solomon Islands are in a precarious spot right now because while they are still connected with their cultural roots there is a big wave of outside influences that is building pressure and threatens to sever the connection they have with their past.



June 29, 2012

Aquarius Beach Hotel

For our few days in Fiji, we are staying at a tiny hotel/hostel on the beach at Nadi, Fiji. Sandwiched between a lot at which you can hop on a horse and take a sunset beach ride and the launch point for the Nadi Bay Canoe Club.


June 29, 2012

Bus Ride to Town

Despite Angie’s prediction, the public bus actually arrived on time. Roof but open air windows (no glass), and questionable transmission at best. Which may have had something to do with the driver’s penchant for rolling stops.


June 30, 2012


I’m going to have to ask someone what these mountains and bays are named. The sand here is green-brown, but fine like at home. Miles of calm water, though, with not a wave in sight. The canoe club went out at sunset and didn’t have much surf to compete with.


June 30, 2012


Most of our days have been spent resting, gabbing, EATING (way too much too often), and in a kind of holding pattern as we wait for the rest of our hui to arrive and for the real purpose of our huakaʻi to kick in.


June 30, 2012

Heaps of Kauna‘oa

After Aunty Moana’s hat lei got sacrificed to customs in Nadi, and before Hanalei completed her new shell hat lei, he encountered some kaunaʻoa kuahiwi growing over a hedge of panex at the hotel, and the girls found a bigger patch a few lots down the beach.


July 11, 2012

Parade of Nations & Opening Ceremonies

As usual, I think the Hawaiʻi Delegation caught people a little off-guard with our showing at Opening Ceremonies. We decided this year to do the parade and the hoʻokupu in our ʻōlapa clothes and kīhei. The effect was very striking.


July 11, 2012


We spent the last two days on Gizo Island in the Western Province, where we found a very familiar landscape – beaches leading to steep mountains and little valleys and gulches, with homes scattered both along the ocean front and in the depressions of uka.


July 14, 2012

Heading Home

Exhausted, reflective, sad to leave new friends, anxious for Guam in 2016 and then Hawaiʻi hosting in 2020, we pack up our (too) many boxes of gifts and delegation shirts and turn our thoughts once again to families and kuleana at home.


July 15, 2102

Honiara Welcome

Compared with my memories of chaos in 2000, my absence of memory for 2004, and a definite sense of verboseness linked with 2008, this Solomon Islands experience leaves a pleasant taste of wai niu and hala kahiki in my mouth.


July 15, 2012

Umbrella Mats

Mom and I arrived late, in the pre-dawn darkness, at the canoe ceremony that welcomed the seven waʻa of Te Mana o Te Moana and showcased the agility and speed of the native tamoko (war canoes).