Sculpture Brings Peace to Kaka‘ako

Mar 17, 2017

Kawika Eskaran, "Kūkulu Ho‘omaluhia," sculpture at the corner of South Street and Ala Moana Boulevard. Eskaran, a master carver, incorporated traditional symbols of peace and celestial navigation in this work.
Credit noe tanigawa

Master carver Kawika Eskaran has built canoes, he’s sailed and works with Polynesian navigators and directs special projects at BYU-Hawai‘i.  His sculpture at the corner of South and Ala Moana is designed to bring peace to an area with a troubled history.  HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports, it is also a navigational reference, for those who understand.

Kukui nuts and leaves are depicted on the sculpture behind master carver Kawika Eskaran. Above his head, an 'io, Hawaiian hawk, rises with a swelling wave, and above that, the navigational key Eskaran explains in this story.
Credit noe tanigawa

Kawika Eskaran’s sculpture, Kūkulu Ho‘omaluhia, is at the corner of South Street and Ala Moana Boulevard.  See it, and more private art in public places at hawaiipublicradio.org .

Master carver Kawika Eskaran pictures life in Kaka‘ako as it was lived in the area around his new sculpture, Kūkulu Ho‘omaluhia.  Kūkulu refers to the Hawaiian stilt, the kūkulu ‘ae’o .

“Because of all the ponds that were located here, for kalo, for making salt, and things like that, that bird was very much identified with this location.” Its long legs and long beak perfect for picking through water.  Eskaran says difficult things happened in this waterfront area.

“There was a station here, where before being transported to Kalaupapa, the people with Hansen’s Disease had to come.  It was a waiting station and many people died there.  There was also a reform school, and you know, widespread prostitution was occurring here during the sailing period.  Now they’re finding burials with bones of hundreds of individuals.  There were luakini where human sacrifices were performed at a location very close to here.”

Eskaran based his sculpture on the Lōkahi triad Auntie Malia Craver identified as the forces that center human life:  God, Humans, and Nature.  “What I was trying to do is bring light, peace, knowledge, man’s humanity to man back to this spot.”

Eskaran points to a pattern near the top of his sculpture.             

“What I’m showing up here is our ability to receive direction through celestial intervention.  Even when we voyage, this is a prevalent star line.  Any of the navigators and people who sail, when they look at these little dots, they’ll immediately know, Oh, North Star over there, Big Dipper, Hōkūle‘a, and all the way down to the Southern Cross.  If we’re sailing up from Tahiti, how do you know when to turn for home?”

Eskaran:  “The indicator is the Southern Cross.  The height of the Southern Cross from the bottom star to the top star, when the space from the top to the bottom of the cross equals the space from the bottom of the cross to the of top of the ocean swells, when the two are equal, then you know, time to turn, and Hawai‘i will be in that direction.”

That’s a huge margin of error, though, or what? 

Eskaran:  “No, we never miss.”

The sculpture is oriented so the point on the sculpture points to the North Star, the only immobile star in our sky.  Now you know.  Find more private art in public places in stories below.