Moving across the Pacific to Hawaii finds Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, the co-creator, with Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson, of the glorious picture book Kapaemahu (2022). The mythic legend of the Kapaemahu regales four Tahitian healers who arrived in Waikiki centuries ago. Neither male nor female, “they were mahu—a mixture of both in mind, heart, and spirit,” the book reveals. The people built a monument in gratitude, but the “four great boulders” eventually disappeared in the wake of U.S. colonialism and destructive tourism. The stones were finally recovered, but without their history: “The fact that the healers were mahu has been erased.” Kapaemahu reclaims the monument’s true origins by honoring the mahu. - School Library Journal

“The award-winning production team of Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson now sets their script onto the page, resulting in a spectacular picture book featuring stills from animation director Daniel Sousa's moving images… Sousa's full-page bleeds and saturated palette of predominantly deep earth colors display potent images that can't--won't--be contained. Light heightens Sousa's superb imagery: glowing golds underscore gentle strength; soft, wispy white captures healing energy; fiery reds display the mahus' tenacious fortitude. Power continues to flow through transparent prose and magnificent visuals, gifting audiences with ancient insights celebrating acceptance and inspiring strength… A lauded animated short film about powerful ancient third-gender healers in Hawaii gets transformed into a glorious picture book reclamation.” - by Terry Hong in the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Centerʻs Book Dragon

“A rich retelling of an ancient Indigenous Hawaiian legend." Filled with cultural details and beautifully illustrated in vibrant tropical colors, the book pays homage to Indigenous Hawaiian healing traditions and affirms two-spirit people. The fascinating backmatter provides background information about the original Hawaiian legend and Niihau dialect.  A poignant monument to the power of hidden Indigenous histories.

Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu was not born on Niʻihau but says she was “guided, groomed and raised” by the Niʻihau community. Wong-Kalu recently narrated the animated film, Kapaemahu, using ʻŌlelo Kanaka Niʻihau to allow listeners to hear the beauty of the language; it was the first time it was used as the medium for a film.

Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum announces a new, original exhibition that will explore the hidden history and contemporary meaning of what may be the world’s only public monument celebrating gender fluidity – The Healer Stones of Kapaemahu.

To recover the past, then, can be an act of resistance. In the animated short film “Kapaemahu” (2020), directed by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson, an ancient mo‘olelo (“oral story”) is given new life, recounting the voyage of four healers from Tahiti to the Hawaiian Islands many centuries ago. The healers were māhū, “not male nor female ... a mixture of both in mind, heart and spirit,” as the film puts it. They brought knowledge of how to ease pain and cure illness and were welcomed and beloved. When the time came for them to depart, the grateful community hauled four boulders to the beach at Waikiki, in what is now Honolulu; the māhū infused the stones with their spirits, then vanished.

Long ago, four extraordinary individuals of dual male and female spirit, known as māhū, brought their wisdom from Tahiti to Oahu, saving many lives with their healing abilities. Their indigenous leader Kapaemahu recounts the story that many have forgotten. In June, visitors to Bishop Museum will be reminded of that tale in a new exhibition called The Healer Stones of Kapaemahu, which will explore the history of the loss and rediscovery of four mysterious stones on Waikiki Beach. The exhibition is based on the Oscar-contending animated film.

A series of projects will soon arrive based on the celebrated, award-winning 2D short about the long-suppressed, centuries-old story of Waikiki’s mysterious four-boulder monument to the gentle people, both male and female in mind and body, who brought science and healing to the island.

Kapaemahu LGBT Animation Short Now A Book and a Doc

After premiering at Tribeca and being shortlisted for a 2021 Academy award, the animation short Kapaemahu will have its book and documentary premiere, as well as a museum exhibition.

Hawaiian animated short, Kapaemahu, created quite a stir at the 93rd Academy Awards this year, as it became the first ever Native Hawaiian film to clear the first round of voting and become an official Oscars shortlist of 10 films in the ‘Animated Short Film’ category. This amazing work is now evolving into other formats including a children’s picture book, immersive multimedia exhibition, and documentary film, all exploring the rich history brought to life by the animation.

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