Students at Blanche Pope Elementary celebrated Earth Day by unveiling their Mele Mural during the school's ho'olaule'a today. The 55-foot mural took two weeks to complete with students from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade contributing to the brainstorming process and painting.
"This project helped our students connect with their past through learning and sharing the stories told through the mural," said Lily Utai, fifth grade teacher at Blanche Pope. "It was a memorable experience and we are so grateful to Mele Murals, Kumu Kaleo and Kaimuki High School students, and the community for their help and support."
Fifth and sixth grade students worked with local artist and Mele Mural founder Estria Miyashiro to come up with a theme and design for the mural. Students from Kaimuki High School, who completed their Mele Mural in 2015, visited the school to help mentor the students through this process, which included meditation and reflections.
"The mural can be summed up in two words – Ho'omalu Waimanalo – which means to guard Waimanalo. It's much more than mālama," said Miyashiro. "Hawaiians have the belief that if you take care of your 'aumakua, your 'aumakua will take care of you. Expanding on that, if you take care of your home, in this case Waimanalo, it will take care of you."
The designs and themes behind the mural help establish a sense of place for the students and community by showcasing the stories that make the area unique. A few of the mo'olelo portrayed in the mural include:
Kamohoali'i at Pohaku-Pa'akiki, shared by Ho'ai Keeno, fifth grade
Pohaku-Pa'akiki is the huge rock at Kaupo and it used to have another huge rock underneath it. Back then, two 'uala farmers would put awa on Pohaku-Pa'akiki and Komohoali'i would come and drink the awa. Kamokoali'i was a shark god. He could turn in to a shark or a human. Since Kamohoali'i was a god he was like a chief. Awa is a drink that chiefs can only drink. One day he came and saw a fisherman. The fisherman was cutting off some of Kamohoali'i shark relatives tails and throwing them in the ocean. Later, while the fisherman was fishing Kamohoali'i bit him in half. The man tasted awful! So after that, he vowed and all his shark relatives, to never eat someone from Kaupo, Waimanalo.
Muliwai'olena, shared by E'lizibeth Galbiso, fifth grade
Ilauhoe is a man that fell in love with a beautiful woman named Kauholokahiki and wanted to marry her. Kauholokahiki said, "I will marry you, but you must bring the water of Muliwai'olena to me, because it is the only water I bathe in." Ilauhoe accepted and went to start his quest and found Muliwai'olena in Waimanalo. He retrieved Muliwai'olena sacred water in his gourd and returned with it to Kauholokahiki. She bathed in the water and Ilauhole and Kauholokahiki were together.
The school's partnership with Mele Murals stemmed from the school's relationship with Tiare Agpaoa. The mural is part of a series of Mele Murals that started in 2013. The five-year endeavor was launched by the Estria Foundation, a non-profit organization that strives to for social change through the creation of art. For more information, visit www.melemurals.org.