Maui Arts & Entertainment

Merwin Conservancy Event to Celebrate Hawaiian Language

February 17, 2016, 12:30 PM HST
* Updated February 17, 12:40 PM
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“Hawai‘i: Language Matters” image courtesy the Merwin Conservancy.

The Merwin Conservancy will present Hawai‘i: Language Matters, the first Green Room event of the year, on Feb. 19, begining at 7 p.m. at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s McCoy Studio Theater.

The evening event will celebrate the mana of a living Hawaiian language, and examine the importance of preserving languages around the world.

The event will include a live performance, a film screening, a lively panel discussion, and a reception with champagne, dessert and a book fair.

The performance will feature mele from Nā Keiki Pūnana Leo O Maui.

The documentary screening will spotlight the Hawaiʻi segment of the documentary Language Matters with Bob Holman.

The panel discussion will feature poet Holman (the film’s host), local Hawaiian immersion advocates and several of the film’s participants from Hawai‘i, including Dr. Puakea Nogelmeier, Kepā Maly, Kealiʻi Reichel, Kī‘ope Raymond, Leilei Ishikawa and Kaimana Brummel (more panelist will be announced).


The film’s award-winning director, David Grubin, will introduce the film and moderate the panel.


The film, Language Matters with Bob Holman, focuses on the rapid extinction of many of planet’s languages and the multifarious struggles and efforts to save and preserve them. The documentary features people and cultures from Australia, Wales and Hawai‘i.

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Hawaiian school children. Photo courtesy The Merwin Conservancy.

The Hawai‘i segment of the documentary takes a close look at the Pūnana Leo Movement, and includes a discussion with its founding members about their efforts to save the Hawaiian language for future generations. The film was written, produced and directed by Grubin.

Also featured in the film is an interview with W.S. Merwin, a longtime Maui resident who is one of the most celebrated living American poets, an accomplished translator and founder of The Merwin Conservancy.


A courtyard reception with live music, champagne, dessert and book fair will follow the festivities in the theater.

“We are deeply inspired by this film and are looking forward to spending the evening celebrating beauty of the Hawaiian language and honoring the people who continue to work tirelessly to save it and cultivate itin our community,” said Sara Tekula, The Merwin Conservancy’ s director of communications and outreach. “Our founder, W.S. Merwin, has said that language is ‘the ultimate achievement that we as a species have evolved so far’ and this evening was created to explore what that means for us in Hawai‘i.”

Tickets are $25 and $10 for students with a valid school ID.

Tickets can be purchased by calling the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’ s Box Office at (808) 242-SHOW (7469) or by going online.

All ticket sales benefit the nonprofit Merwin Conservancy.

The event is presented by FIM Group.

The Green Room, an environmental and literary salon series held regularly on Maui, is presented by The Merwin Conservancy, a local nonprofit dedicated to preserving the living legacy of W.S. Merwin.

For more information about the conservancy, go online.

For more information about the film, visit

Kīʻope Raymond. Photo courtesy The Merwin Conservancy.

Kī‘ope Raymond. Photo courtesy The Merwin Conservancy.

Kepā Maly

Kepā Maly. Photo courtesy The Merwin Conservancy.

Keali‘i Reichel.

Keali‘i Reichel. Photo courtesy The Merwin Conservancy.

Moderator & Filmmaker David Grubin . Photo courtesy The Merwin Conservancy.

Leilei Ishikawa.

Leilei Ishikawa. Photo courtesy The Merwin Conservancy.

Kaimana Brummel

Kaimana Brummel. Photo courtesy The Merwin Conservancy.

Puakea Nogelmeier

Puakea Nogelmeier. Photo courtesy The Merwin Conservancy.

Bob Holman

Bob Holman. Photo courtesy The Merwin Conservancy.

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