'Homealani' honors a life well-lived


POSTED: Thursday, December 10, 2009

Most of us can barely sort through our family pictures. Ann Marie Kirk, a disciplined filmmaker, has managed to make the ultimate home movie, using the visual archives left by her grandfather, Oliver Homealani Kupau, and the subject of “;Homealani.”; The documentary will be screened free at 4 p.m. Sunday at Kamehameha Schools' Kapalama campus.

Kupau, born as the 1800s wound down, died in 1963, just a few months after Kirk was born. She got to know her grandfather through his home movies and photographs, and through the memories of the expansive Kupau family.





        Screening of documentary about Oliver Homealani Kupau

Place: Kamehameha Schools' Kapalama campus, Princess Ruth Keelikolani Auditorium


When: 4 p.m. Sunday


Admission: Free




Kupau, by all accounts, was a taciturn, impressive man who spent his life frugally and in service to others, commanding Hawaii's 298th Infantry—it appears that the military offered a disciplined, multi-ethnic career path for Hawaiian kids in turbulent times—caring for his family and for his alma mater, Kamehameha Schools. He was a man who kept much to himself, a crack rifle shot who equally loved to make pictures of colorful flowers, a fellow who needed his underwear starched and ironed.

He spent his life in the 298th, never rising above colonel—a matter of some soreness in the family—preparing for combat but apparently not seeing any, training soldiers during World War II. (Elements of the 298th did serve in Guadalcanal and the New Hebrides during the war, and some nisei members were accepted by the 100th Battalion and 442nd Regiment.)

Kirk's film is reflective but not particularly sentimental, something that would likely have made the old man proud. To the day he died, Kupau refused sick leave, wanting to illustrate by example that Hawaiians are hard-working and reliable. He succeeded.