Shaka the Movie

Photos by Brannon Yamauchi

Shaka, the Power of Aloha is back in production after a year-long hiatus due to COVID-19. This past Thursday 2.25.21 saw photography resuming in all-day interviews Kupuna on Aunty Kela Miller’s family Kuleana Lands in La’ie. Kuleana lands are family homesteads granted to key families by Ali’i (royalty) with the provision that Ali’i can make requests from the residents such as taro root grown for large events. The lands are sacred and special. They are also controlled, so not just anyone can go to them. The images speak for themselves as to the beauty of the location.

Aunty Kela Miller | Shaka the MovieFirst up was Aunty Kela herself in an interview on her life and times with Tutu Hamana Kalili. Aunty told amazing stories of jumping trains and looking up to Tutu for the first 13 years of her life. Her recollections of Tutu were vivid and warm. She is a top Kupuna in La’ie today and she referred to Tutu Hamana as the Kupuna of Kupuna.

Shaka the MovieSecond up was a trio of Kupuna (Aunty Kela, Uncle Baldie and Uncle Harold Pukahi) who all learned fishing from Tutu Hamana. Uncle Baldie and Uncle Harold are known expert fishermen and they dedicated their knowledge of the reef to Tutu Hamana. As an aside, these two uncles are actually cousins… Hawai’i is a small place, so it’s common to call each other cuz, but in this case it was for real. A second aside is that Uncle Harold is an accomplished navigator, so much so that when Nainoa Thompson wanted to land the famed Hokulea canoe in La’ie Bay, Uncle Harold was the one to navigate the canoe through safe channels.

In between the action, Aunty Kela provided a luau for all. I must admit that I’ve never been a huge poi fan, but I went in for a second bowl as Aunty’s was so good. Lau lau, pipikaula, mac salad, three kinds poke, rice, malasades, holy cow, da mouths broke off every crew member.

Kumu Robert Lono Ikuwa | Shaka the MovieFinally, Kumu Lono, a Hawaiian cultural expert supplied by film funder Kamehameha Schools did a long interview on the history of the Shaka. Kumu Lono is a grad of BYU, La’ie resident and the author of a Keiki storybook on the Shaka. He was a world of knowledge and gave us a pile of hilarious Shakas.

The main takeaway from this day was that La’ie people are full of life, love and aloha. They are amazing characters for the screen and the audience is surely going to love them. Stay tuned… this production is just warming up!

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