Celebration of the Arts Honors “Love for All Things Planted”
The theme of this year’s Celebration of the Arts Festival at The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua is “Aloha I Na Mea Kanu…Love for all things planted.” Chairperson Clifford Nae‘ole says that extends beyond agriculture to the seeds of history and family, planted generations ago.
The festival, which just happened April 19 and 20, sprouted from the seed of an idea 27 years ago, says Nae‘ole.
“I was a performer; I danced hula here,” he explains, “and we just started to stick our neck out, and before you know it we’ve changed this and helped it evolve, and we hope this seed grows into something bigger than I could ever imagine.”
The Celebration of the Arts has bloomed into a renown event that welcomes Hawaiʻi’s most reputable artisans, educators, cultural practitioners, speakers and entertainers, who convene to celebrate and share Hawaiʻi’s history and culture with resort guests and locals alike.
“So this here now is to address what people have learned and what people have been teaching,” says Nae‘ole. “Then also addressing students; what they have learned and how they intend to teach in the future.”
Learning has come a long way. Back in 1988, hundreds of Hawaiian remains were being removed to make way for the resort near Honokahua Bay, which got the attention of local media and spurred outrage, vigils and protests at the state Capitol. The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua was moved mauka and the ancient burial ground was restored, but the dispute brought lasting change to state laws that govern historic preservation, and highlighted the importance of respecting Hawaiian culture, ‘āina and history.
The Celebration of the Arts has taken place on-property every year since the resort’s inception in 1992.
“It’s a rejuvenation, with the controversy at the beginning of the hotel and the unearthing of our iwi kūpuna — their greatest battle may have been in death rather than life,” reflects Nae‘ole. “But that seed now has evolved into burial councils, into archaeological laws, into buffer zones and the creation of councils to take care for our iwi kūpuna, our artifacts, so this was a seed that blossomed into something great.”
The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua continues to maintain the Honokahua Preservation Site, a recognized “wahi pana” (sacred site) that lies adjacent to the resort and serves as a gathering place for Native Hawaiians ceremonies.
The festival, which is always open to the public, includes traditional ceremonies, music and dance performances, cuisine experiences, film screenings, hands-on art demonstrations, informative speakers and cultural panels. Learn more in our video above.