Installation view of Lehuauakea’s <em>Mele o Nā Kaukani Wai (Song of a Thousand Waters)</em> on display in NGV Triennial from 3 December 2023 to 7 April 2024 at NGV International, Melbourne.<br/>


Photo: Leah Rose

māhū, Hawaiian born 1996

Level 2
NGV International
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Mele O Nā Kaukani Wai is a mixed-media, wall-based installation that speaks to the importance of integrating Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge and Western science in the fight against global environmental crises. Lehuauakea uses traditional ʻohe kāpala (carved bamboo printing tools) to print patterns that tell stories through intergenerational symbolism. The patterns use the metaphor of the mixing of freshwater and saltwater, where the river meets the sea to portray this complex issue. The work envisions a more ecologically equitable collective future through a contemporary Native Hawaiian lens.

Lehuauakea is a māhū Native Hawaiian interdisciplinary artist and kapa (traditional barkcloth) maker from Pāpaʻikou, Hawaiʻi. Using a range of traditional and contemporary Kanaka Maoli media, they explore cultural ecologies, Hawaiian identity and environmental degradation. Through the labour-intensive making of kapa, ʻohe kāpala (bamboo printing tools) and natural pigments, Lehuauakea breathes new life into intergenerational practices. They use these acts of resilience to forge deeper relationships with ʻāina (land), through which different modes of Indigenous storytelling are carried into the future.

Purchased with funds donated by Trawalla Foundation, 2022