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Concert to highlight ‘Huliamahi,’ legal battles of Hawaiians

Songs written about West Maui injection wells, Maui Lani burials fight

Zachary (left) and Nicholas Lum (right) of Keauhou and steel guitarist Jeff Au Hoy will be performing in a virtual concert tonight with the release of “Huliamahi Volume 1.”

In conjunction with the release of the groundbreaking new album, “Huliamahi Volume 1,” a free virtual concert will air this evening at 5:30 on Facebook Live.

A number of acclaimed Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning musicians will participate including Maui Kumu Hula Cody Pueo Pata; Keauhou’s Zachary and Nicholas Lum; and Na Wai ‘Eha’s Kamalei Kawa’a, along with steel guitarist Jeff Au Hoy; the trio Ahumanu, who are nominated for the 2020 Hoku for Island Music Album of the Year; Frank Ka’uokalani Damas; Zachary Lorenzo; Po’okela Wood; and Kaulike Pescaia, who is nominated for the 2020 Hoku for Hawaiian Music Album of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year.

The concert will feature songs from “Huliamahi Volume 1,” and from the new album, “Lei Nahonoapi’ilani: Na Mele Hou,” a companion to “Lei Nahonoap’ilani: Songs of West Maui,” released in 2019, which is a Hoku nominee for Compilation Album of the Year.

“Mele Huliamahi” will be co-hosted by Pata and Maui attorney Lance D. Collins.

A benefit for the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., the “Huliamahi” CD is the first volume of an innovative living history series designed to foster aloha ‘aina and spotlight various natural resource disputes. With a Hawaiian title defined as joining together and cooperating in great numbers, the recording brings together an ensemble of musicians all unified by a similar vision.

Cody Pueo Pata will be performing and hosting “Mele Huliamahi,” a virtual concert featuring the songs of “Huliamahi Volume 1,” which chronicle legal battles to save the land and Hawaiian culture.

“The premise is that we have these stories of communities who engage certain kinds of challenges, most likely for the place that they live in, and they engage the legal system with the spirit of aloha ‘aina,” explained the album’s producer and contributing artist Zachary Lum. “We’re looking at aloha ‘aina as a act of engaging the Hawaii’s legal system, which is heavily based on Kanaka Maoli traditions.”

The songs capture current causes, “like the farmers in Wai’oli (on Kauai) who sell kalo, and they came together after the historic flood in 2018,” Lum continued. “And there are stories that take us to South Maui and Paeahu and East Maui with Puku’ilua.

“What’s beautiful about this album is the fact that we get to learn these stories and treat these performances as a unique cultural bookmark, about a place and people. These are today’s stories that we can celebrate and remember through the songs that were written for them.”

With regard to assembling the composers and musicians involved, “a lot of that was due to Lance Collins, the executive producer,” said Lum. “He has been very much integral in this project. The project is very much his brainchild.”

Besides familiar musicians like the Lum brothers, Pata and Keauhou’s Jonah Kahanuola Solatorio, some newer artists are represented. “We have newcomers like Zachary Lorenzo, Taisamasama Ka’imina’auao, and Pu’uwai Tollefson-Kelly,” he noted. “These are recent high school graduates, Class of 2020.”

Comprising all new Hawaiian language songs specially composed for the project, three address the Kakanilua ancient burial site in Central Maui, where a battle took place in 1776. The group Malama Kakanilua has been working to protect the sand dunes area from development.

Ka’iuokalani Damas opens the album with the stirring “Ahulau ka Pi’ipi’i i Kakanilua,” followed by Kaniloa Kamaunu beautifully singing “Aloha Kakanilua,” and Damas again paying tribute with “Malama Kakanilua.”

“There was a war that resulted in a huge amount of burials,” Lum explained. “Many died and their remains are buried at Kakanilua. We have a mass grave that is not being respected. There are multiple aspects of the Kakanilua story that is being honored. One of the songs honors the Malama Kakanilua group, another features Kaniloa Kamaunu, who is a key player in that group, and the other song talks about the actual battle.”

Other potent songs include “Na Kama Puko’a Kani ‘Aina,” referencing the impact of injection wells on Maui’s shoreline ecology, “A Paeahu Au” and “Makena,” which celebrate the protection of archaeological sites and endangered native species, and “He Inoa no Paeahu,” which cites the various names of the winds, waters and species at the ahupua’a impacted by the proposed 200-acre Paeahu Solar Project above Maui Meadows.

Lum was also involved, as co-producer, composer and musician, with the recently released “Lei Nahonoapi’ilani: Na Mele Hou” compilation, the second volume in a project to share stories of West Maui.

While “Lei Nahonoapi’ilani: Songs of West Maui,” compiled traditional songs, the new work features all new material.

Locations celebrated by various artists include Honokowai by the groups Kuikawa and Keauhou, Olowalu by Po’okela, Ukumehame by Keauhou, the Paunau ahupua’a by Kamalei Kawa’a, Kaua’ula Valley by Jonah Kahanuola Solatorio, and the Mokuhinia Pond honored with a sublime song by Pata.

“It basically takes you around almost every ahupua’a of West Maui with all newly composed songs,” said Lum. “Many were composed by Cody Pueo Pata.”

In their moving tribute to Honokowai, the multi-Hoku-winning group Keauhou created a powerful video emphasizing the sacredness of land in Hawaii.

“We are at a critical point where we as humans interact with aina,” it opens with a narration by Maui-born attorney U’ilani Tanigawa Lum, a fellow at the University of Hawaii’s Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law. “There is a growing consciousness and engagement surrounding the protection and management of resources.”

Proceeds generated from sales of “Lei Nahonoapi’ilani: Na Mele Hou,” will benefit Na Leo Kalele, the nonprofit arm of the West Maui Hawaiian immersion schools. Both “Na Mele Hou” and “Huliamahi” albums are available online at mele.com.

“We hope Friday’s virtual concert is a leaping off point that peaks the interest in how special this project is,” said Lum. “This is ‘Huliamahi Volume 1.’ We hope there will be more volumes with more stories and more new compositions, and performances that we can all enjoy.”

* This story includes corrections from the original published Friday, Aug. 28, 2020.

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