Hoʻomalu ʻia e nā liko.
Another Mele Murals project has begun. This time taking place at Blanche Pope Elementary School in Waimanalo. Those involved began the Mele Murals process by taking a huakaʻi, or journey, to a nearby spring to connect with the land and to ask for inspiration for the mural.
“There’s a spring about a block from here called Muliwaiʻōlena,” explains Estria Miyashiro, Lead Artist for the Mele Murals project. “And it’s really close to the beach so sometimes the ocean water splashes into it, and in the old stories there’s a woman named Kaholokahiki and she’s going to marry this chief. She tells the chief ‘well if you’re serious about marrying me you gotta bring me the waters of Muliwaiʻōlena because that’s the only place where I would bathe’ and it’s said that it’s healing waters. It’s this yellow-green water and so that helps to identify this place.”
Blanche Pope Elementary teacher, LilyMarleen Utaʻi added, “That stream holds a lot of mana and a lot of aloha that needs to be taken care of and it’s unfortunate that, you know, there is homeless and it is surrounding sacred places like that. But what the kids try to show is that regardless of what’s happening in the area it still needs to be mālama and taken care of.”
“We went to Muliwaiʻōlena to see what’s happened, and what we did is we started cleaning up becaue there was a lot of ʻōpala,” said Eden Shimaoka, a student at Blanche Pope Elementary.
Along with cleaning up the stream, the students also had a chance to sit and meditate in the space, setting their intentions and asking for guidance on the mural. Trinity Lindsey, another student at Blanche Pope Elementary reflected, “So during our meditation, some of us heard our kūpuna talking to us and they were telling us we should incorporate the mele from all over Waimānalo and put it on our wall.”
“When we meditated we had stuff in our heads so that went on top the wall,” explains student Kīʻaha Kohatsu.
Miyashiro expands, “So we’re directly taking what the children received in the meditation and groundings and tying it together in a way that makes sense, and so what we sort of realized was that the message is ‘Hoʻomalu Waimanalo’ and as you take care of and guard your place and hold it down that it’s going to take care of you.”
With a clear vision for the mural the next step was for the students to share the sketch with their principal, hoping to get the green light to begin painting.
“The children really presented their ideas behind the sketch and, you know, these are children that don’t normally take that kind of leadership role, yet they were able to clearly articulate their thoughts and the collaboration that went on behind this mural,” explains Todd Watanabe, principal at Blanche Pope Elementary.
With approval granted, it was finally time to start painting!
“The most fun part about it was getting dirty with the paint,” exclaimed Lindsey. Shimaoka added, “I kind of learned how to spray paint, ‘cuz spray painting was a lot of fun.”
“Basically this project was just, like, giving back to our school for all the hard work they do for us. We just wanted to give them a gift from us,” explains Lindsey.
That gift was shared with the rest of the school and the Waimānalo community at a beautiful unveiling celebration.
Lindsey addresses the students and community in attendance, “Hoʻomalu ʻia e nā Liko, our mural’s name, which means protected by the children. Please stand as we count down to the unveiling of our mural.”
“I think what was the most amazing part is that it was all lead by our keiki,” reflects Utaʻi. Watanabe added, “The kids did all the planning today. They created the program, and what they wanted to see happen.”
Lindsey reflects, “I thought today went great because all of this planning paid off and it was exciting because we finally get to show everybody our gift to them.”
“We’re so blessed and fortunate that this wall will be the legacy, you know, for these kids and their keiki, and their keiki’s keiki,” said Utaʻi. She continued, “A student mentioned to me, saying, out of the blue he just says, ‘What we do in the past will affect the present, and what we do in the present will affect the past,’ and so I believe this mural is a connection because what they’re doing now is caring. Caring for a place that was so sacred, but also a place that they call home, and that if they can mālama home now then in the future they will continue to mālama their home,”