Exhibit displays connections between royals, Kalaupapa

A historical exhibit titled “A Source of Light, Constant and Never-Fading” that emphasizes the strong relationship between the people of Kalaupapa and Hawaii’s royal family, will be on display in the Ka’a’ike Building at the University of Hawaii Maui College from Wednesday to Dec. 6.

The chapter of the history of Kalaupapa not often told was developed by Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring and remembering every individual who was sent to Kalaupapa for leprosy.

“The ‘Ohana is so excited to bring this exhibit to (University of Hawaii) Maui College,” said Clarence “Boogie” Kahilihiwa, a resident of Kalaupapa for more than 50 years and president of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa. “This is a great opportunity to learn more about the history of Kalaupapa as told by the people themselves.”

A blessing will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, followed by a presentation, “Bringing The Families Home,” by ‘Ohana Coordinator Valerie Monson, who has been interviewing and writing about the people of Kalaupapa for nearly 25 years.

Monson also will lead walkthroughs of the exhibit on Saturday and Oct. 26 and Nov. 2, all beginning at 1 p.m. The public is invited; there is no charge.

Between 1866 and 1969, an estimated 8,000 people were taken from their families and sent to Kalaupapa because of Hawaii’s leprosy isolation policies. About 5,200 of these individuals were sent to Kalaupapa prior to the annexation of Hawaii by the United States, approximately 97 percent of whom were Native Hawaiian, a news release about the exhibit said.

Members of the Hawaiian royal family were deeply moved by the situation facing so many of their “beloved people” who were sick. They visited Kalaupapa, read petitions, wrote letters, mourned friends who died and did what they could to make life better for those afflicted with the disease. Leprosy was not an abstract problem but a very real presence in their lives, the news release said.

At the same time, the people of Kalaupapa were a source of inspiration through their letters, actions, songs and poetry that reflected a deep love for their country and those who they looked to for support in their attempts to find justice and hope, the news release said.

The exhibit contains historical and contemporary photographs, excerpts from letters and petitions from the people of Kalaupapa together with the words of members of the royal family, including diary entries from Queen Lili’uokalani when one of her close friends, Kapoli Kamakau, was sent to Kalaupapa.

Many of the letters were originally written in Hawaiian. There also are panels devoted to the deep bonds that Father Damien and Mother Marianne – both now saints – formed with the people of Kalaupapa and the royal family.

The exhibit consists of 12 double-sided freestanding panels about 6 feet high and 3 feet wide.

With the appearance on Maui, the exhibit will have appeared on the six main Hawaiian Islands in the past year.

The exhibit will be available for viewing during the hours the Ka’a’aike Building is open: Mondays-Fridays, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

For more information, call (808) 984-3289.