“O ka Mihi ka La‘au Mua, a he Piko Hou” is Hawaiian for “New Beginnings Start With Forgiveness.”
This mural was one of the many painted during Pow Wow Hawai‘i. The team of Estria, Prime, Trek6 (Miami) and myself, Mike Bam, came together to paint this Hawaiian production. The concept started with the four Hawaiian gods of Lono, Kanaloa, Kane & Ku and how they are associated with vortexes on the island of O‘ahu. It was balanced with the goddesses of Hi‘iaka, Pele, Poli‘ahu, and Hina. This mural was about rebirth, regeneration and new beginnings.
Hi‘iaka & Lono
Trek6 painted the fertility god of Lono with pigs, kalo taro roots, verdant greenery and an ohia flower to symbolize rebirth. Lono uses his o‘o staff to touch the earth and allow the water of life to flow, and crops to grow. The goddess, Hi‘iaka, represents with the waters surrounding the eight major Hawaiian islands. Behind Lono, Trek6 added the Taino (native Puerto Rican) symbol for fertility.
Prime painted the ocean god, Kanaloa and the volcano goddess, Pele. Prime visioned a young and strong Kanaloa paddling a wa‘a canoe and a teenage Pele holding a bowl of molten lava. When lava enters the ocean, it transforms from liquid to solid and new land begins. Prime also painted the honi, a greeting of touching noses and breathing together. It represents Pele greeting Kanaloa and how lava and ocean met.
Kane & Poli‘ahu
Kane is the god of life. Estria painted Kane portraying him as half night and half day. Kane brings the storm rains helping all crops and life spring forth. Kane leans against an kawa bowl with the word ‘mihi,’ meaning “forgiveness.” The kawa drink brings people together and brings clarity and healing. As the first god of the Hawaiian islands, Kane wears a lei palaoa around his neck, indicating that he is the head of the family of gods. Estria also painted the daughter of Kane, Poli‘ahu, the snow goddess. She exists only if Kane brings the rain from the higher skies.
Ku & Hina
I chose to paint Ku, the god of war, but also wanted to show the Ku as the lesser known god of husbandry. Ku protects love and provides for his family. I painted Ku and Hina dancing as a perfect yin and yang. Hina is the Hawaiian moon goddess and guides the wa‘a navigators across the Pacific Ocean. Prime helped to emphasize this by adding the double-hulled wa‘akaulua canoe. Ku is also the god of prosperity and to show this, I rendered fish swimming at his feet, and kalo plants surrounding Ku and Hina.
The creation of this mural was the beginning of a spiritual journey for some of the artists. It brings the gods to life and connects their stories with today’s youth. It transformed a nondescript white wall into a place that people can visit and be proud of the Hawaiian culture. Most importantly, it is now a place for parents to share stories with their families. It has transformed the Kaka‘ako district in Honolulu as a place that was neglected and filled with strife, to a place for love, growth, and connection.
The theme of this wall is “new beginnings must first begin with forgiveness.” Before forgiveness, we must acknowledge our fears. Forgiveness and new beginnings are for Kanaka Maoli, Hawai’i locals and all people of the world who have wronged or been wronged. We must forgive our own trespasses as well as those who trespass against us. We must look within, and learn our past, in order to move forward.