On October 9th the American Institute of Architects (AIA) announced the winners of their 2018 AIA Film Challenge. A video produced by Mighty Movies, Ka Hale: A Revival, features kuhikuhipuʻuone (master builder) Kumu Francis Palani Sinenci and his hālau (school) of alakaʻi (leaders) talking about the art of constructing a traditional hale. The video, which highlights hale at various sites, won this year’s People’s Choice Award. The hale currently under construction at Honolulu Community College (HonCC) in the courtyard of Building 5, adjacent to the Hale ‘Aina (cafeteria) was one of the ones featured.
In the video Kumu shared that “Everything is an art form. Setting the stones is an art. Selecting the wood is an art. Lashing. Carving. It’s all an art.”
“I want to share this knowledge with the younger generation who are interested.” Since the kuhikuhipuʻuone was the architect, engineer and builder of traditional hale, his passion to share his knowledge a gift to the volunteers working on the project.
Alakaʻi Kalawaiʻa Moore, an Associate Professor at Windward Community College, explained how hale building demonstrates how Hawaiians lived a sustainable lifestyle. “Hale were built with things provided by the land. If we take care of the land, the land provides what we need: rock, wood, and thatching.”
Another sustainable concept that is being implemented is using or finding a purposeful use of something that would usually be “thrown away.”
“All of the lāʻau (wood) was gathered and donated from locations that needed to be cleared of alien or introduced trees, such as mangrove,” stated Alapaki Luke, Chair of the Kūlana Hawaiʻi: Hawaiian Programs Division at HonCC.
“This reminds us of how we can move forward in today’s situation by adapting to it, and not cutting down native trees that are threatened by invasive trees and pests.
Kumu and Moore will be traveling to Chicago, IL to accept the People’s Choice Award, attend, speak on a discussion panel at Chicago Ideas, an annual festival that will be taking place on October 18th.
The hale is still under construction. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact the Hawaiian Center for dates, times and complete the necessary paperwork (release forms, etc.).