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.

In partnership with POV and Open Society Foundations, PBS Hawai’i hosted an intimate virtual talk story on the challenges and opportunities faced by members of LGBTQ+ communities beyond urban Honolulu.

October 11 was National Coming Out Day. Today, Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu’s coming out story. A respected educator and cultural leader, Kumu Hina met HPR in Waikiki, visiting Kapaemahu, the majestic healing stones at the edge of Kuhio Beach that are linked to healers who were not specifically male or female. Kumu Hina co-produced an Oscar-contending animation about Kapaemahu, Wikiki’s healing stones.

Published by Penguin Random House, pre-orders of the children’s picture book are available here. An Indigenous legend about how four extraordinary individuals of dual male and female spirit, or Mahu, brought healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii, based on the Academy Award–contending short film. With illuminating words and stunning illustrations by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson, and Daniel Sousa, KAPAEMAHU is a monument to an Indigenous Hawaiian legend and a classic in the making.