I donʻt want to give away too much about my talk at TEDx Manoa “Moʻolelo Refigured” – Iʻll save that for when the video comes out – but my theme of moʻolelo (myth, history, legend, story) seemed to be one that ran through most of the talks, as Naʻalehu Anthony noted. Anthony himself explained how ʻOiwi TV was not really about technology, or even the telling of stories exactly, but about the question of who gets to tell the stories. In her talk Ola (i) nā Mo’olelo: Living Mo’olelo, Brandy Nalani McDougall read poetry framed by vivid commentary on stories and colonialism – her “On Cooking Captain Cook” got a rise out of the crowd, and it was hard to say whether they all really got it. One person who blogged on my talk didnʻt seem to get it – I noticed his comment that I “made an argument on annexation” – the strategy of continually calling history an opinion has been used by those who still control the story.
Lissette Flannary, a mainland born and raised Hawaiian filmmaker, focused on the stories of the Hawaiian diaspora, hula, music and their intersections. Her American Aloha, on mainland halau hula, epitomizes this focus, and many of her films are on hula, like Na Kamalei: The Men of Hula, but she also made One Voice about the Kamehameha song contest, which Iʻm in for one nanosecond. Manu Boyd skillfully delivered a story that connected the gods of Manoa to the “robust retail environment” he heads in Waikiki -Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center – in a surprisingly captivating and funny moʻolelo. In Hawaiʻi’s Legacy of Literacy, Puakea Nogelmeier focused on the means of telling the story itself – Hawaiian language newspapers, from which I dutifully transcribed my pages for his Awaiaulu/ʻIke Kuʻokoʻa project. His project is directly relevant to mine (a Hawaiian history textbook) in that it could make my project immediately out of date as new voices from the past emerge, and thatʻs OK.
Kealoha, the singularly named State Poet Laureate recited The Poetry Of Us, connecting his background in nuclear physics and poetry in a poetic examination of Hawaiian origins (and all origins). His poem “What are the chances?” spoke of the contingency and irony of existence in a way that was timely and in a contemporary style. And this summed up the TED theme “New Old Wisdom” – new frameworks for old knowledge, or as Vicky Holt Takamine put it, It’s Na’au or Newa.