Navigating Our Future

by Techs

Wailuku, USA – February 2019


Finding This Mural

1774 Lower Main St, Wailuku, HI 96793

Google Map

Story Behind This Mural

This mural was created in partnership with <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Pacific Whale Foundation</a>.

False killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) are a large species of dolphin and one of a group of dolphins known as the “blackfish”. Their name originates from their discovery: they were first described based on fossils and were thought to be extinct. Their skull and teeth resemble that of killer whales, so they were named the false killer whales. In Hawaii, there are three populations of false killer whales: an offshore (pelagic) population, the Northwest Hawaiian Islands population, and the Main Hawaiian Islands insular population. Pacific Whale Foundation’s (PWF) research focuses on the Main Hawaiian Islands insular population which has fewer than 200 individuals, of which very few are females capable of breeding. Due to its extremely small population size and limited range, the insular population was listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 2012. PWF’s research involves locating false killer whales in the Maui Nui region and collecting identification and photogrammetry photos to determine population parameters and use underwater footage to record behaviors and assess scar patterns. They also use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to measure body size and condition as well as assess potential pregnancy status.

Artist Statement

My mural is in collaboration with Pacific Whale Foundation and features Maui’s very own navigator Kalā and her son Te Kauri. Kalā is helping to ensure the future of wayfinding and traditional ocean voyaging are maintained for the next generation. In order to be a traditional navigator your observation skills have to be of the utmost highest level. Noticing such changes like the impacts on land affect our oceans and how we navigate.   To not only navigate by the stars but also navigate the challenges facing our oceans and ecosystems of today, we will have to better observe what’s happening around us; the changes in our climate, habits, our impact on the environment, the teachings of our elders and the wisdom of our ancestors planted in nature patiently waiting for us to uncover what we thought was once lost. From the mountain tops to the sea we must care for it all and everything in between. As part of the collaboration with Pacific whale foundation for this mural, the task was to incorporate the False killer whale depicted in the vague star constellation. For navigators, stars play an important roll in wayfinding. Stories and tales were specifically created to ensure that the way to find a certain place was remembered. It was also told in such a way a child could remember the tale. For us indigenous people of Aotearoa, there is a tale where the native Kauri tree and the (tohorā) whale were brothers who roamed the land. The whale yearned the freedom of the ocean and so left his brother Kauri never to return. As part of his departing gift the whale gifted Kauri a cloak made of his skin to forever protect him. Such stories similar to this helps the knowledge of wayfinding transcends  through time and generations. The biggest coincidence for this painting is that the name of the Kala's son who is the boy in the portrait is 'Te Kauri' who was named after the native tree here in Aoteroa. Tihei mauriora! Special aroha goes out to Koa and Haku and the whanau for looking after myself and Hana in Maui arohanui whanau.

The Focus

Conservation of false killer whales