Kahuna Kahu O Ka Malamalama, giclee print by Kathy Long.
“In the summer of 1989 I was asked to do a piece of artwork commemorating the 200th anniversary of Pu’ukohala, one of the most sacred heiau (temples) of the Hawaiian people. I live less than 10 miles from the site and felt honored to be asked to do such an important image.
It was at the event that I first met Hale Makua–a spiritual leader and mentor to many of the men of the Na Koa. He had kind eyes and was easy to talk to and we quickly developed a friendship. I was snapping photographs all morning when I turned and saw him sitting calmly under a tree, beautifully backlit by the rays of the morning sun. As I prepared to take the picture, he shifted–just a little–and a ray of sunlight came from over his shoulder and lit the interior of his hands. I gasped and clicked (remember, this is pre-digital) and had the film developed. Sure enough, I’d captured that moment and a few hours later I started drawing what has become one of my favorite images.
The day I took Makua’s photograph began a friendship that lasted 15 years until a car accident took his life in March of 2004. A pure blooded Hawaiian (one of the few left), he was an ex Marine with nine purple hearts. He helped many people find their way through his spiritual guidance and quiet wisdom. His dream was to start a school for Hawaii’s children where they could be brought up learning the old ways of kupuna. And he is sadly missed.”
You can learn more about Kathy Long and her artistic process here.