Ka Ulu Hau

Nālamakūikapō Ahsing & Kamehanaokalā Taylor
2024 Grant Recipients

Ka Ulu Hau seeks to promote the social, economic, and environmental self-sufficiency of Hawaiʻi by revitalizing the utilization of hau as a critical biocultural resource. Over the past three years, Nālamakūikapō and his partner Kamehanaokalā have experimented with hau fibers as a native, sustainable source for paper products. Ultimately, they believe that making hau paper can improve self-sufficiency and diversify economic opportunity in Hawaiʻi, while providing an artistic pathway to building healthy relationships between land and people. With this in mind, the duo intends to offer 10 free community hau papermaking workshops at ʻāina organizations and to create viable models for grass-roots production.

Jonathan Day Nālamakūikapō Ahsing was born on Oʻahu in 1998 and raised in Puʻuloa, ‘Ewa by parents Alan and Karin Ahsing. He is a Kanaka Maoli artist, mahiʻai, and apprentice voyager with Hōkūleʻa. Nālamakū’s work honors the lessons of his teachers, love of his family, and mana of his ʻāina. His work centers ancestral ecological knowledge and cultivates Kānaka Maoli life, land, and sovereignty. His process is his island, the material upon which he asks: What knowledge is encoded through pattern? How do we activate Indigenous wisdom to uplift contemporary solutions? How do we exact a language which embraces interdependence as a vision of the spectacular? Who are we as the ancestors of tomorrow?

Nālamakū’s work is deeply committed to perpetuating his language, history, culture, and community. His works expresses aloha ʻāina through ʻohe kāpala, printmaking, papermaking, sculpture, and biocultural restoration. He currently lives in Waimānalo and serves as the ʻĀina Restoration Coordinator for Kauluakalana, stewarding the lands of Ulupō Heiau and Kawainui Fishpond. He is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools and Williams College (Honors BFA, BS). 

Recent exhibitions include:ʻAi Pōhaku, Stone Eaters at Leeward and Kapiʻolani Community College, Mai Hoʻohuli ka Lima i Luna at Hawaiʻi State Art Museum, He Noho Pili Kua//He Noho Pili Alo at Aupuni Space, and Unstable Connections at Williams College Museum of Art.

Kamehanaokalā Taylor is a Kānaka ʻŌiwi researcher, writer, and mahiʻai from Waikupanaha, Waimānalo, Oʻahu. Kamehana’s work is informed by Hawaiian epistemologies and archival research as well as embodied research through ʻāina restoration. Centering ʻike Hawaiʻi, moʻolelo Hawaiʻi, and ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, Kamehana’s writing advocates for collaborative, culturally-informed reclamations of kānaka-ʻāina relationships.

Kamehana is currently pursuing an M.A. in English at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. She is also collaborating with Puʻuhonua Society to digitize and edit transcripts of Joan Lander and Puhipau’s expansive Nā Maka o ka ʻĀina film collection. As a mahiʻai, Kamehana cultivates ancestral foods on her family farm including ʻulu, kalo, and ʻuala.

Kamehana was recently awarded the Red Mandarin and Lady Yi-suen Shen Scholarship by the University of Hawaiʻi’s English Department. She is also a recipient of the University of Hawaiʻi College of Arts and Sciences’ John Young Scholarship in the Arts.