Monday, July 25, 2005

A turtle emerges from the sea, above, in Carl Yonamine's design for the Aloha Festivals.

Festival spirit

Artist Carl Yonamine uses the
sea turtle to capture the spirit
of the Aloha Festivals

The honu, or Hawaiian sea turtle, is the Hawaiian symbol of longevity, peace, humility and the spirit within, according to Blaine Kamalani Kia, Aloha Festivals cultural adviser, so it is no wonder that the festival's 2005 theme, "Na Honu Hawaii -- The Spirit Within," pays tribute to the sea creatures.

Artist Cal Yonamine worked with Kia to create a design that reflected the spirit of the annual festival, which begins next month on Oahu.

Yonamine began the project with a backdrop of water line drawings that represent the vast ocean. The water eventually becomes a sea turtle, leaving the impression of a honu emerging from the sea to return to the sand and give birth.

The turtle never forgets its birthplace, said Yonamine, whose design will be included on all of the promotional items for the festival.

The design was inspired by the works of M.C. Escher. Beyond the simplicity of the turtle figure is the richness of Hawaiian culture, conveyed through metaphors and illusions. "Everything has a deeper meaning than what is seen," Kia said.

At the center of another design, the turtle's form gives the appearance of "paepae," or the building mound that symbolizes the Hawaiian family, or genealogy, Kia explained. The turtles appearing from small to large are derived from ancient petroglyphs representing past, present and future; land, ocean and sky; and preservation, perpetuation and conservation.

The turtle's backbone is also a representation of Hawaiians, indicating that they, like the sea turtle, are an endangered species, said Kia.

Another design, shown as it will be used on a T-shirt, features petroglyph honu images.

Each design component was analyzed to ensure it represents Aloha Festivals in a way that connects to its cultural past and perpetuates its future, said Kia, who encouraged board members to "go back to traditional concepts of graphics and symbols" for the Aloha Festival themes, which in recent years have reflected a contemporary pop sensibility.

"We need to think about what kind of message we are sending to the masses," he said. "We need to stay in focus with the Hawaiian culture. It needs to be the rule of thumb. There is no other way of doing it but from the Hawaiian perspective."

Aloha Festivals began in 1947 as Aloha Week. The event has grown to include hundreds of events on six islands spanning a two-month period. It has become a celebration of Hawaii's Pacific, Asian and Western influences, embracing all aspects of culture, from music and dance to cuisine and art. Nearly 1 million people attend the various festival events, which are intended to reflect the connection between the Hawaiian people and the environment.

Kia has worked on the festival for the 25 years, since starting as a member of the royal court.

"I've seen it from many different perspectives. I've experienced it from the inside and out. It will always be embedded in my heart. I'll never forget the wonderful things taught to me."

Of primary importance is the aloha spirit, which has survived modern distractions and stresses, he says.

"I'm overwhelmed by the everyday, simple things we can do in our life to take care of others and make others happy."

Pa'u riders traditionally ride at the beginning of the Aloha Festivals parade. Oahu's parade will be Sept. 17.

Aloha festivals highlights

Royal Court Investiture: At 5:30 p.m. Aug. 25, grounds of Honolulu Hale, King Street. The event will include Hawaiian chant and hula kahiko. Free.
Opening ceremony: 5:30 p.m. Sept. 8, Iolani Palace.
Waikiki Ho'olaule'a: 53rd annual block party on Kalakaua Avenue, with food booths and several entertainment stages; 7 p.m. Sept. 9.
Keiki Ho'olaule'a: 10 a.m. Sept. 10, Pearlridge Center.
Downtown Ho'olaule'a: Block party from Bishop to Merchant to Smith streets; 6 p.m. Sept. 16.
Aloha Festivals Floral Parade: Pa'u riders, royal court and floral floats make their way from Ala Moana Park through Waikiki to Kapiolani Park; beginning 9 a.m. Sept. 17.
Aloha Sunday Services: Sept. 18, Central Union Church.
Aloha Festivals Hawaiian Falsetto Contest: Amateur singers vie for prizes; 7 p.m. Sept. 23, Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Call 589-1771.

Royal Court Investiture: Noon Aug. 27, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Halemaumau Crater.
Waimea Festival: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 28, Parker Ranch Center.
Royal Court Pikai and Ho'okupu: Big Island court visits Spencer Beach Park, Kawaihae, with offerings and a "washing" of king and queen; Sept. 3. Call 808-885-7786.
13th annual Ms. Aloha Nui Contest: Beauty contest features women weighing 200 pounds or more; Sept. 4, Waikoloa Beach Marriott. Call 808-885-7786 or e-mail info@alohafestivals.com.
Aloha Sunday Services: 11 a.m. Sept. 4, Haili Church in Hilo.
"E Hula Mai Kaua": Couples hula competition debuts at Keauhou Shopping Center; Sept. 9.
Falsetto Contest: Competition honors living treasure Clyde "Kindy" Sproat; Sept. 10, Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. Call 808-885-7786.
Poke Contest: Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, Sept. 11. After the judging, the public may sample this Hawaiian "soul food." Also, Hawaiian craft fair. Visit www.PokeContest.com or call Lani at 808-936-0670.
30th Paniolo Parade: Enjoy pa'u riders, floats, bands, marching and mounted units, led by the Royal Court procession; 10 a.m. Sept. 17, Parker Ranch. Call 808-885-7786.
23nd annual Kupuna Hula Festival: Elders gather at King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel Sept. 21 for a hula competition in their honor. Arts, crafts and an appearance by the Royal Court are also scheduled. Call 808-961-8592 or 808-322-1812. Discount admission with festival ribbon.
Hilo Ho'olaule'a: 12th annual event features music, food, arts and crafts; Sept. 24, Front Street. Call 808-935-5461.

Royal Court Investiture: 10 a.m. Aug. 27 at Kamokila Hawaiian Village, Wailua.
Hale Pule: Traditional royal court reception services; 10 a.m. Aug. 28, Kapa'a First Hawaiian Church.
Opening Ceremony and Luau: 4 p.m. Sept. 8 at Hyatt Regency Kauai, Seaview Terrace Lounge. To buy luau tickets, call 808-742-1234 ($3 discount with festival ribbon).
Kauai Ho'olaule'a: Hawaiian and international foods, arts, crafts, Hawaiian music and dancing; 10:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 10, Kukui Grove Shopping Mall Center Stage.
Luau Feast: 5 p.m. Sept. 10 at Smith's Tropical Gardens, with 6 p.m. imu ceremony. Tickets $65, or $48 with festival ribbon. Call 808-245-8508.
Royal Luau: Dance company Rohotu and the Punua family of entertainers honor Kauai's Royal Court with a show, plus food and drink; 5:30 p.m. Sept. 15, Radisson Kauai Beach Resort. Call 808-335-5828 or toll-free 877-237-7700.

Royal Court Investiture: Noon Aug. 27, Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.
Fourth Annual Richard Ho'opi'i Leo Kie Kie Contest: Begins Aug. 27, with finale Jan. 1, in celebration of Hawaii's falsetto heritage. Call 808-870-8047 or e-mail: info@alohafestivals.com. Admission includes festival ribbon.
Lahaina Banyan Tree Ho'olaule'a: Gather under the oldest and largest banyan tree in the state for this 18th annual party featuring arts and crafts, hula, food, music and the Aston Resort's Laulau Cookoff; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 17.
Maui Makahiki: Cultural demonstrations, makahiki games, all-day entertainment, crafts and food booths; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 8, Kaanapali Beach Hotel Luau Grounds. Learn sports of the pahe'e (dart sliding), ulumaika (Hawaiian bowling) or 'o'oihe (spear throwing).

Royal Court Investiture: Greet court with gifts and leis; 7 p.m. Oct. 6, Kaunakakai's Malama Cultural Park.
Ho'ike Town Show: Listen to pau hana music; 7 p.m. Oct. 7, Kaunakakai library grounds.
Molokai Parade: Country parade through rustic Kaunakakai; 9 a.m. Oct. 8.

Visit www.alohafestivals.com for a schedule of events, or call 589-1771 to purchase a $5 ribbon and 2005 program.

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