Ka Hana Kapa | Documentary Film on the History of Kapa

Ka Hana Kapa

About the documentary

Ka Hana Kapa documents the history of kapa in Hawai‘i and follows the complex process of Hawaiian kapa making from start to finish. Hawaiian kapa is one of the most beautiful art forms in the Pacific. In ancient Hawai‘i, kapa, or bark cloth made from the wauke plant (Broussonetia papyrifera), was used for clothing, bedding, the wrapping of precious iwi (ancestor’s bones), important ceremonies, and a myriad of other purposes, making it an integral part of everyday life in Hawaiian society. Ka Hana Kapa is the story of kapa making in Hawai‘i, as told by these dedicated kapa practitioners and their students, who have given new life to this intricate cultural practice.

The film features interviews with kapa practitioners Marie McDonald, Roen Hufford, Dalani Tanahy, Moana Eisele, Dennis Kana‘e Keawe, Ka‘iulani de Silva, and Eric Enos. Ka Hana Kapa also showcases the thrilling appearance of Halau O Kekuhi led by kumu hula Nalani Kanaka‘ole attired in original kapa made specifically for the Halau at the opening of the 2011 Merrie Monarch Festival.

The production team of Craig Howes (series scholar), Joy Chong-Stannard (director/editor) and Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl (writer) are known for the Biography Hawai‘i television series. After producing shows on Maiki Aiu Lake, Harriet Bouslog, Princess Ruth Ke‘elikolani, Koji Ariyoshi, and Joseph Nawahi, they turned their attention to the story of kapa in Hawai‘i. Joining this production are Mike M. May (director of photography) and Ka‘upena Wong (narrator).

Project Partners

Edith K. Kanaka‘ole Foundation, Biographical Research Center, National Organization for Traditional Artists Exchange, Maui Arts & Cultural Center. Assistance with the production was received from Halau O Kekuhi and the kapa makers across our state, the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Honolulu Museum of Art, Queen Emma Summer Palace, Grove Farm Sugar Plantation, Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden, Merrie Monarch Festival, and Manoa Heritage Center.


Ka Hana Kapa has been aired on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) television stations. DVDs are available to borrow from the Hawai‘i State Public Library System and University of Hawai‘i libraries. DVDs are also available for purchase from Na Mea Hawai‘i and other retailers.