Maui News

Mana I Ka Leo: Power of the Voice

December 29, 2010, 9:49 AM HST
* Updated December 29, 10:13 AM
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By Wendy Osher

Maui’s Hōkūlani Holt is among a list of three contemporary practitioners featured in the upcoming screening of Mana I Ka Leo, Power of the Voice.  The locally produced documentary short examines the Hawaiian tradition of oli or chant through the voice and experience of Holt, Kamanaʻopono Crabbe and Kaumakaiwa Kanakaʻole.

Hōkūlani Holt. File Photo 2010 by Wendy Osher.

The film shows at 3 p.m., Sunday, January 16, 2011 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s McCoy Theater.  Tickets are $10.

“Through chanting is that voice, that Mana I Ka Leo, that powerful voice, that is able to communicate and express that through emotion, and that ancient sound of the past,” said Crabbe in a portion of the short film.

Oli or chant was used in both sacred situations and parts of daily life.  Through varying vocal styles and techniques a chanter could express mourning, seek permission to enter a home or halau, honor a chief, and offer a prayer. It also played an important role in documenting family lineage, genealogy, and the creation chant of the Hawaiian people.


“You could read the story in a book, but it won’t be as valuable or as wealthy as the knowledge you will find in chants,” Crabbe said in the film trailer.


Mana I Ka Leo steps into the voice of the past through a trio of practitioners who have dedicated much of their lives to preserving and perpetuating the voice of their kupuna.

Ruben Carrillo (the film’s executive producer/director and director of photography) and Dawn Kaniaupio (the executive producer/producer and writer) spent six years working on the creation of Mana I Ka Leo under their Honolulu-based 4 Miles LLC company.

The documentary was voted Favorite Short Film out of more than 200 eligible entries in the 2010 Hawaii International Film Festival.


Carrillo and Kaniaupio will both attend the Maui showing.  They will be accompanied by Hōkūlani Holt, cultural director, Maui Arts & Cultural Center, who will host a question and answer session following the show.

Portions of the film were shot on Maui at Mākena, Noʻohana Farm in Waikapū and the Hawaiʻi Nature Center in Iao Valley.  Fellow Maui resident, Charles Kaʻupu is in the film too, as well as chanting by Sonny Ching, Dr. Taupouri Tangaro, Kamahalo Kaʻuhane and Pohaku Kaʻuhane.  The project was sponsored in part by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

For more information and to view the trailer, visit

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