Kalaupapa Traveling Exhibit Debuts

February 8, 2012, 7:24 AM HST · Updated February 8, 7:26 AM
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Aulani Shiu and Dayton Kupele offer hookupu to their Kalaupapa ancestors in this 2010 picture taken by Wayne Levin.

By Wendy Osher

A traveling exhibit featuring 100 photographs of the remote Kalaupapa region on Molokai opened recently with a debut stop at the East Hawaii Cultural Center.

The exhibit features the photographs of acclaimed photographer Wayne Levin, who has been taking photos of Kalaupapa and its people since 1984.

The exhibit was organized by the non-profit Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, a group founded to promote the dignity of individuals sent to Kalaupapa since 1866, when the area was used as an isolation settlement for Hansen’s Disease patients.

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The group advocates on behalf of current residents; works to preserve the unique history of Kalaupapa; and brings the Native Hawaiians sent to Kalaupapa back to their family histories, the history of Kalaupapa, and the history of Hawai‘i.

In 2003, Levin became involved with Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, and began photographing family members in ways that bring to mind their ancestors.

The exhibit drew more than 1,000 people in its December 2011 opening.

“Seeing all of these photographs of Kalaupapa residents and now their families honoring their ancestors makes us realize that there is a future at Kalaupapa, a future of ‘ohana and always remembering our kupuna who are now part of the land,” said ‘Ohana Board of Directors member, Sol Kaho`ohalahala.

Kaho`ohalahala, was among those who attended the opening in Hilo.  A photo of Kaho`ohalahala visiting the grave of his Kalaupapa ancestor, Lillian Kaho`ohalahala is included in the exhibit.

“It was wonderful to meet other descendants in Hilo and share our experiences,” he said.

The exhibit is funded in part by Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s Kūkulu Ola: Living Hawaiian Culture Program, the Atherton Family Foundation, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and IDEA, an international organization dedicated to empowering people affected by leprosy.

The exhibit will open on Oahu at Windward Community College in Kaneohe on March 2, 2012 and run through April 1, 2012.

Later, the exhibit will appear at Kapolei Hale and at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Central Maui. More information on future exhibit dates will be posted at www.kalaupapaohana.org.

***Special thanks to the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement.

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