Hawai‘i’s Cultural Renaissance is Found at Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort
Through art, music and cultural programming, visitors can see, hear and feel the heartbeat of Hawaiʻi’s heritage at the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort. Following an $80M transformation, the contemporary beachfront retreat is rooted in Hawaiian culture.
Outrigger’s decades-long connection to the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), as well as the Friends of Hōkūleʻa and Hawaiʻiloa, is highlighted in the lobby with a 30-foot mural of a double-hulled canoe painted by PVS co-founder and beloved Hawaiian historian, Herb Kāne. Today, his work takes on new life in the Herb Kāne Lounge, with four of his original paintings. His painting of Hōkūle‘a, the canoe that inspired millions when it sailed around the world using only signs from the ocean currents, wind and stars – hangs proudly in all guestrooms.
On the back wall of the lounge is an intricate woven sculpture of the Hawaiian Islands by fiber artist Marques Hanalei Marzan. Eia Hawaiʻi, He Moku, He Kānaka (Here is Hawaiʻi, an island, a people) speaks to the interconnectivity of communities across Hawaiʻi, while recognizing the ancestral ties and enduring relationships to Oceania. The work is inspired by Marshall Islands navigational stick charts used to teach oceanic seafaring practices and knot-making practices of Hawaiʻi. Through these physical manifestations of indigenous knowledge, Marzan’s work speaks to the evolutionary continuity of culture.
Kamea Hadar, known for his large-scale portraiture, was inspired by Herb Kāne when he created I Ka Wa Ma Mua, Ka Wa Ma Hope (Through the Past is the Future) inside Outrigger Reef. The mural shows a traditional wa‘a, or sailing canoe, crewed by children. Depicted are children of influential Hawai‘i figures of the last century, including: Hana Kakinami, great-granddaughter of Native Hawaiian writer, poet and cultural historian John Dominis Holt IV; La‘iku Blankenfeld, the grandson of PVS navigator Bruce Blankenfeld; Steel Scott, the great-grandson of Elmer Scott who founded Scott Hawaii in 1932; and Kawena Kamakawiwo‘ole, the grand-niece of the great musician and songwriter Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole. Hadar’s daughter, Nova, is also pictured at the steering paddle of the wa‘a.
“We as parents and elders do not yet know where our keiki will arrive or even the nature of the canoe they will be sailing, but we do know that like in a wa‘a, the next generation are all in this together,” said Hadar. “This mural illustrates this traditional, yet forward-looking perspective. We hope the impact of generations past, as well as our current generation, will give our keiki the tools to carry on our legacies and be positive stewards of our future earth.”
Outrigger collaborated with marine scientist and artist Ethan Estess for a sustainable rope art piece “Coming Home,” at the resort’s entrance. In a partnership with Hawai‘i Pacific University’s Center for Marine Debris Research, Estess collected mounds of discarded fishing nets that were repurposed into a colorful mural of Diamond Head, meant to inspire sustainability and less consumption of single-use plastics.
Outrigger is a long-time partner with the premier institution of Hawaiian and Pacific culture, Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, to curate art pieces in guest rooms and throughout the resort that honor Hawai‘i’s past and lend a residential feel.
Steeped in island-music history, Kani Ka Pila Grille opened in 2008 and has been a hotspot for nightly live Hawaiian music from award-winning artists under the stars. The name “Kani Ka Pila,” meaning “Let’s Play Music,” was bestowed on the venue by legendary slack-key guitarist Cyril Pahinui – who performed there regularly. His inspiration for the name came from the unfettered joys of backyard jam sessions with family and friends, where music played, good food served and laughter heard.
Outrigger Reef recently opened the A‘o Cultural Center that serves as a hub for guests to engage in Hawaiian cultural activities. Led by 20-year veteran cultural director Luana Maitland, guests can glean from her vast knowledge of the arts of Hawai‘i and participate in hula lessons; try their hand at ‘ukulele; make a lei or kukui nut kupe‘e bracelet and much more.
“We’ve always sought to let Hawai‘i’s host culture be the steward of the guest experience and we’re happy to strengthen this commitment even further through the A‘o Cultural Center and Herb Kāne Lounge,” said Markus Krebs, general manager of Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort.
A virtual exhibit by digital artist Kari Kēhau Noe pictures the legendary sailing canoe Hōkūle‘a using pieces of the actual sail 32A used on its Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.
“The Aʻo Cultural Center exhibits bring the genius of Polynesian wayfinding to life for kamaʻaina and malihini. It is part of Outrigger’s stalwart support of PVS and our mission,” said PVS CEO and Pwo navigator Nainoa Thompson.
To learn more about the Outrigger Hotels and Resorts please visit: outrigger.com.
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