Working on the Mural for Kaelepulu Elementary has been a growing experience. I have had to push past my limitations, rely on others and am reminded that doing new things is scary and rewarding. I’ve learned about the history of my hometown of Kailua, and discovered stories of the lost partnership between the land and our people.
Planning and research for this mural was extensive.The story of the 12th Century Hawaiian Chief and Navigator, Kaulu, is rich in culture, values and history of the Kailua area. I wanted to do this right. I spent countless hours on the mural design, and received input from the community, mentors and involved the students of Kaelepulu Elementary.
I shared a lot more about the symbolism of the mural and the process of its creation right here. On that webpage, you can also watch a short video of the story of Kaulu and Kaelepulu, illustrated by the 2nd Grade Class of 2026.
I’m from Kailua (born and raised). My childhood consists of days at Kailua beach, riding bikes around the neighborhood and learning to drive at the school parking lot as a teenager. Three generations of my family currently reside here. You could say I have a lot of history here.
What really gets me though is how little I know about the history of the place I’m from. This is a recurring theme as I dive into Hawaiian history… how many stories are all but lost, or at least never mentioned to us? Too many.
One thing that stood out to me in my research of this mural is the lokowai. The lokowai provided food and natural resources for the people of the surrounding areas. The stories say that the fish were so plentiful and so tame that you could just pick one up. Nature trusted the people not to take advantage and the people trusted nature to provide.
This got me thinking how we used to be so dependent on the land. It makes me sad that now we are so dependent on outside resources. We are no longer in partnership with nature.
It has taken generations to get to this point and it is unrealistic to expect nature to provide for our ever-growing needs and wants today. It would take generations to get back to being in partnership with nature (doesn’t that sound magical?). But awareness is the first step.
I encourage you to learn more about wherever you’re from. Pay attention to the stories and old timers. There is power in learning about a place.
Whether you are from the Kailua area or not, the Kaelepulu Mural is a true tribute to my one hanau or homeland of Kailua. I think you’ll enjoy learning a little more about the design process, the four main elements of the mural, and glance over the extensive list of sources for my research.
To follow along and see some updates to the mural, catch my Stories on Instagram.