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Preserving the endangered art of hula kiʻi, Hawaiian puppetry

DAC aulii mitchell.jpeg
Downtown Art Center

Hawaiian culture has many traditional art forms. You’re probably familiar with hula, mele, and oli. One you may not have heard of is hula kiʻi, or puppetry.

Auliʻi Mitchell is a Big Island native and the Kumu Hula of Halau o Kahiwahiwa. Mitchell says the ritual dance of carved images is a critically endangered Hawaiian practice, and he’s working to preserve and revive the nearly lost tradition.

The Conversation had the opportunity to sit down with Mitchell to talk about hula kiʻi and its origins.  

Mitchell will be curating a hula ki’i exhibition at the Downtown Art Center from July 10 through July 30. This interview aired on The Conversation on June 30, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1

Russell Subiono is the executive producer of The Conversation. Born in Honolulu and raised on Hawaiʻi Island, he’s spent the last decade working in local film, television and radio. Contact him at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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