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Dr. Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele in The Green Room


Oct 9, 2019
07:00 PM until 09:00 PM


The Merwin Conservancy presents an evening with Hawaiian scholar and living treasure Dr. Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele, whose lifetime accomplishments as a kumu hula, writer, educator, musician, and dedicated community leader make her a sought-after speaker and cultural consultant.


Dr. Kanahele will be the guest of honor at the first event of the “Memorial Series” of the Green Room arts and ecology salons, held in memory of the conservancy’s founders, poet and environmentalist W.S. Merwin and his wife Paula Merwin.


In this special presentation, Dr. Kanahele, a longtime friend of Mr. Merwin, will read from his epic Hawaiian narrative poem, The Folding Cliffs, and will discuss Merwin’s masterwork through a kanaka maoli lens.


The Folding Cliffs, published in 1998, is a thrilling story, in verse, of nineteenth-century Hawai‘i. It tells the story of an attempt by the government to seize and constrain possible victims of leprosy and the determination of one small family–Ko‘olau and Pi‘ilani, and their son, Kaleimanu–not to be taken. Merwin’s verses tell of the perils and glories of their flight into the wilds of the island of Kaua‘i, pursued by a gunboat full of soldiers.


The presentation will be followed by a pop-up bookstore, with collected titles from W.S. Merwins career as poet and translator available for purchase.


About Dr. Kanahele

Born in Keaukaha on the Big Island, Dr. Pualani Kanaka‘ole-Kanahele (“Pua”) was reared in the traditions of her ancestors and has been highly influential in the resurgence of Hawaiian practices and interest in all things Hawaiian. Daughters of the late hula and chant master, Edith Kanaka‘ole, Pua and her sister Nalani have led the world-renowned classical Hawaiian cultural dance and hula group Halau o Kekuhi. In 1995, Pua cowrote and directed the first opera-length stage hula drama, Holo Mai Pele, based on the Hawaiian literary saga of Pele and Hi‘iaka. She codirected the film version for PBS’s Great Performance series. The production won a 2001 CINE Award-Golden Eagle for excellence in film production. Among her many audio books and articles is Puka Kama‘ehu, a compact disc recording nominated in the Hawaiian Music Category for the 2005 Grammy Awards.


A much sought-after speaker, panelist, and expert cultural consultant, she was invited by the Dalai Lama to speak on the subject of world peace in 1994, and was the Hawai‘i representative for the UNESCO advisory committee on native cultures and intellectual property rights in 1999. Most recently, she was one of the 38 kūpuna arrested on Mauna Kea as part of the Ku Kia‘i Mauna movement to protect a place sacred to Hawaiians.




View map Doris Duke Theatre at Honolulu Museum of Art
900 S. Beretania Street
Honolulu, HI

Additional Information


The Merwin Conservancy


(808) 871-5270

Contact name

Sara Tekula

Contact email


We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of this information. However, you should always call ahead to confirm dates, times, location, and other information.

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Honolulu Magazine October 2019
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