Hui Iwi Kuamo’o

For 33 years, Hui Iwi Kuamo’o has provided care for iwi kūpuna (ancestral Hawaiian bones), moepū (funerary possessions) and mea kapu (sacred objects) through repatriation and reburial. Founded as Hui Mālama i Nā Kūpuna ‘0 Hawai’i Nei (Hui Mālama), Hui Iwi Kuamo’o continues this kuleana (duties and responsibilities to care for the ancestors) as volunteers. They’ve traveled overseas to conduct national and international repatriations from museums, government agencies, and private individuals to identify iwi, advocate for their return, and physically escort them back to Hawai’i.

In 1894, iwi were illegally looted at the site of the Battle of Nu’uanu, and taken overseas to Cambridge University to be included in the Duckworth Laboratory collections. Hui Iwi Kuamo’o advocated for their return, becoming the first ever to repatriate from Cambridge. To honor these particular ancestors for their role and sacrifice in the establishment of the Hawaiian Kingdom, they designed the Pali Reburial Memorial project to rebury them and build paepae (stone platform) over them. In summer 2023, Phase II of this project will build a perimeter wall around the reburial platform and host a training space for a new generation to take on this kuleana. Participants will engage deeply in the mea nui (importance) of protecting and caring for iwi and moepū, stone gathering and stone setting oli (chants), learn concepts, practices, and terms associated with traditional Hawaiian rock wall construction (including 30 stone-setting techniques), learn the political history of the Battle of Nu’uanu, and honor the warrior wāhine interred there.