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Master weavers offer lauhala weaving symposium May 3 and 4

Hawaii Preparatory Academy, in partnership with the University of Hawaii Hilo’s North Hawaiian Education and Research Center, will present Weaving: The Sustainability and Traditional Pacific Arts Symposium, on May 3 and 4, at HPA’s Gates Performing Arts Center in Waimea.

Special focus will be given to the role Native Hawaiian weavers from the Big Island have played over the last century in the development and perpetuation of this particular fiber art form, especially in the making of lauhala hats. A highlight will be a “talk story” session with Kona resident, master weaver, and “living treasure” Aunty Elizabeth Lee, who is the founder and director of Ka Ulu Lauhala O Kona, an organization dedicated to perpetuating the art of lauhala weaving.

The symposium kicks off with a free public event from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, May 3, at HPA’s Gates Performing Arts Center with lauhala hat weaving demonstrations, an exhibit on lauhala art, and a lecture by Dr. Deacon Ritterbush and Chelle Pahinui, a lecturer at the College of Business and Economics at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, who specializes in tourism economics.

The Saturday, May 4, symposium, which runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., requires a pre-registration fee of $55 and includes lunch catered by Simply Natural Restaurant in Honokaa. This event features lectures, panel discussions, Aunty Elizabeth’s “Talk Story” session, hat weaving demonstrations and basic weaving classes led by some of the state’s finest lauhala weavers, including Pohaku Kaho’ohanohano from Maui, Lola Spencer from Molokai, Margaret Lovett from Kauai, Michele Zane-Faridi from Hawaii Island, and Cathy Blickos from Oahu.

Vendors and artisans will be on-site both days selling lauhala hats, bracelets, hat bands, and other Pacific Island arts. They also will reshape and/or sew in hat bands and take special lauhala hat orders. Participants are encouraged to wear and/or bring hats from their own lauhala hat collections to share and discuss.

For more information about the symposium, contact Dr. Koh Ming Wei at 443-9231, or Vicky Gapasen at To register for the May 4 symposium, call NHERC at 775-8890.