2022 is the Year of the Limu (seaweed), and communities are celebrating throughout Hawaiʻi to strengthen connections across programs and generations. In March, the Keahiakahoe Canoe Club, with support from the University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant College Program (Hawaiʻi Sea Grant) and Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo (KUA) came together to support the creation of a native limu mural on Sand Island.
Kamehameha Schools’ Kapālama mural club students, led by seniors Annamarie Ellazar and Mailelauhulali Hoe, designed and painted the mural with themes of “togetherness” and “place” in mind, with an inherent Native Hawaiian perspective. These young artists and their kumu, Boz Schurr, who earned her MFA from UH Mānoa, dedicated four days of their spring break to complete the project.
The mural titled “Kaholaloa” is inspired by a connection to place, and refers to the reef that was filled in to form Sand Island. By using the Sand Island’s traditional name, artists paid homage to the roots of this significant place.
The diverse array of native limu and the club’s koa canoe, Keolahouomaehaʻapiti, appear to share nothing in common, but both are tethered to this place where many communities come together to paddle, swim and celebrate. Keolahouomaehaʻapiti is depicted riding ancient waves, buoyed above the native fauna of the former reef, with limu woven throughout the design.
Limu is significant to Hawaiʻi with strong historic, cultural ties to Native Hawaiians because of its importance as a food source and bioindicator of environmental health, often bringing people together, making limu a transcendent symbol of unity.
“As we strengthen the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa as a Native Hawaiian place of learning, this mural in collaboration with the Kamehameha mural club, KUA and Keahahiakahoe is just one of the many ways our programs can creatively engage and partner with local community members and elevate the incredible talents of our young leaders, all to strengthen our connection to one another and place,” said Beth Lenz, PhD, assistant director for diversity and community engagement at Hawaiʻi Sea Grant.
In celebration of The Year of the Limu and Hawaiʻi Sea Grant’s 50th anniversary, there are future projects planned to beautify spaces and revitalize a connection to the ocean with an emphasis on limu.