Na Moolelo Lecture Series

Iolani Palace invites you to join us at our new Na Moolelo Lecture Series. The lectures feature presentations by Hawaiian cultural experts, historians, and museum professionals that will prompt discussion of Hawaii history and culture as well as museum practices.

The free Na Moolelo Lecture series continues Iolani Palace mission to preserve and share Hawaii’s unique cultural and historical qualities with the community. 

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The summer schedule for the Na Moolelo Lecture Series is as follows:

Wednesday, May 23
Topic: Poetics of a Land Beloved
Intimacies are about our mele and its significance to understanding our role a Kānaka Maoli - to tend to the ʻāina and to remember who we are.

Speaker: Dr. Jonathan Osorio, University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa
Dr. Jonathan Kay Kamakawiwoʻole Osorio is a scholar of 19th century political and social history in Hawaiʻi. He has published the book Dismembering Lāhui which details the colonization of Hawaiʻi as a slow and insinuative process that heavily depended on Hawaiians being converted to the law. A professor for the Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, he has developed and taught classes in history, law as culture, music as historical texts, and research methodologies for and from indigenous peoples. He is also a composer and singer with a history as a Hawaiian music recording artist since 1975.

Wednesday, May 30
Topic: He Moolelo No Na Mea Waiwai Aliʻi: Caring for Aliʻi Museum Collections
This talk-story will focus on the ways that Kanaka ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiian) and local museum professionals bring together professional responsibilities with Indigenous sensibilities in the care of aliʻi (chiefly) museum collections. It will consider how these culturally-specific and place-based practices are in themselves forms of professional practice that work to challenge the hegemony of Western museology. The presentation will draw primarily from research that was conducted in 2014 at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum and the Lyman House Memorial Museum and will conclude with an open conversation about Indigenous curation in Hawaiʻi-based museums.

Speaker: Halena Kapuni-Reynolds, University of Hawaiʻi, Graduate Student
Halena Kapuni-Reynolds is a Kanaka ʻŌiwi born and raised on Hawaiʻi Island in the Hawaiian homestead community of Keaukaha and the upper rainforest of ‘Ōla‘a. He is a Ph.D. student in American Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and a concurrent student in the Museum Studies Graduate Certificate Program. In 2015, he received a Master of Arts in Anthropology with a focus in Museum and Heritage Studies from the University of Denver. His thesis was titled “Curating Aliʻi Collections: Responsibility, Sensibility, and Contextualization in Hawaiʻi-based Museums.”

Wednesday, June 13
Topic: An Uncomfortable Truth: Hawaii has been in a State of War with the U.S. since 1893
On December 18, 1893, President Grover Cleveland apprised the US Congress that on January 16th "the military demonstration upon the soil of Honolulu was of itself an act of war." The President then concluded, by "an act of war...the Government of a feeble but friendly and confiding people has been overthrown" on January 17th. What does "act of war" mean in international law and what are the consequences?

Speaker: Dr. Keanu Sai, University of Hawaiʻi
Dr. Keanu Sai is a political scientist specializing in international relations and public law. He is a faculty member at the University of Hawai‘i Windward Community College and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Hawai‘i College of Education graduate division.

Wednesday, June 27
Topic: Kau ka iwa, he lā makani: A genealogy of the Royal Order of the Star of Oceania
In late 1886, King Kalākaua founded a new Hawaiian royal order bearing the name "Ka Hoku O Osiania," ("Star of Oceania"), to be awarded in recognition of services for the advancement of Hawaiian interests in the Pacific Islands region “in order to promote harmonious cooperation among kindred people.” Being the last of the various royal orders created by Hawaiian monarchs on the model of European orders of chivalry, it embodied Kalākaua’s vision of unifying the remaining independent archipelagos of Oceania under Hawaiian leadership to fend off Western imperialism. The presentation will explore the origins and development of the order and the policy it symbolized.

Speaker: Dr. Lorenz Gonschor, ʻAtenisi University, Tonga
Lorenz Gonschor obtained a master’s degree in Pacific Islands Studies in 2008 from the University of Hawai‘i–Mānoa and a PhD in political science in 2016 from the same institution. Since 2017 he is a senior lecturer and associate dean at ‘Atenisi University in Tonga. His research interests include historical and contemporary governance and politics of Oceania, with a special focus on the international relations of the Hawaiian Kingdom and its role in Pacific regionalism. His first book, A Power in the World: The Hawaiian Kingdom in Oceania is forthcoming with University of Hawai’i press and scheduled for release in 2019.

Wednesday, July 11
Topic: A Duty of Care: Museums, Environment and Climate
Why does it matter that museums become more environmentally sustainable and climate resilient? How can they even do it? It starts with energy, water and waste; progresses to capital planning and public programs; and culminates with cooperative community planning for resilience and national commitments to UN Sustainable Development Goals. See how this work is developing in Hawaii, and around the country, through programming about climate and the Anthropocene, in operations through high-efficiency buildings and processes, and through community resilience planning. Examples include Manoa History Center, Bishop Museum, Strawbery Banke, CalAcademy, Detroit Zoo, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Wagner Free Institute, Phipps Conservatory.

Speaker: Sarah Sutton, Sustainable Museums

Sarah Sutton is Principal of Sustainable Museums, a consultancy using the understanding of behavioral change, environmental policy, and cultural resource practice to help nature/culture organizations thrive in a changing planetary climate. She helps zoos, aquariums, gardens, museums, and historic sites become more environmentally sustainable and to work with their communities to build climate resilience. She is the Sector Lead for Cultural Institutions at We Are Still In, the largest national coalition of non-party supporters of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Wednesday, July 18
Speaker: Barron Oda 
Topic/ Summary : TBD

Wednesday, Aug. 8
Topic: Before and After: Shangri La
An important part of modern conservation practice is documentation and this includes before and after photographs of everything a conservator does. Prior to coming to Hawaiʻi in 2012, Kent’s career in private conservation practice included work on a wide variety of materials, from mosaics to bronze sculptures, from a the ancient to the modern world. Come and see how his work before coming to Hawaiʻi helped him tackle some interesting problems at Shangri La, Museum of Islamic Art, Culture and Design… illustrated with “before and after” photographs, of course!

Speaker: Kent Severson, Conservator, Shangri La, Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design
Kent Severson is the Conservator at Shangri La, Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design in Honolulu, where he is responsible for overseeing the care and preservation of Shangri La’s collection of Islamic art. He is a graduate of the NYU conservation training program and was formerly in private practice, in Boston, Massachusetts. He has participated in active archaeological excavations in Turkey, Greece, Italy and Egypt. In 2010, 2011, and 2016-2017 he was a Visiting Instructor for the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage in Erbil, Iraq. Severson is a fellow of the American Institute for Conservation.

Wednesday, Aug. 22
Topic: Na Kilo Ao Māiki: Observing the microbial realm
Dr. Frank studies the smallest, most abundant and diverse forms of life in the ahupua‘a ecosystems and the role they play in shaping the functionality of that ‘āina. Though our kupuna could not physically see microorganisms, she believes they understood their presence, which is reflected within our moʻolelo, mele, oli and traditional management practices. By better understanding the microbial moʻokuauhau of our ʻāina – bridging cultural and historical knowledge with contemporary knowledge systems – we can begin to decode the insight left to us by our kupuna and better evaluate overall ecosystem health, inform current monitoring, and perpetuate the restoration, sustainability and resilience of our native ecosystems.

Speaker: Dr. Kiana Frank, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Pacific Biosciences Research Center

Kiana Frank - born and raised in Kailua Oʻahu - is an Assistant Professor in the Pacific Biosciences Research Center at the University of Hawaii, Mānoa. She studies the microbial dynamics of Hawaiian ecosystems as a mechanism to better understand the connectivity between land and sea, and to perpetuate place-based knowledge and ecological-based studies that foster values and concepts of traditional management. Her work integrates biology, geochemistry, and ʻike kupuna (traditional knowledge) to address novel hypothesis and showcase connections between contemporary western science and Native Hawaiian Science.

All discussions will take place at 5:00 p.m. in the Kanaina Building on the Palace Grounds. Admission is free.

The free Nā Moʻolelo Lecture series continues Iolani Palace mission to preserve and share Hawaii’s unique cultural and historical qualities with the community.