EPISODE 7 – HAWAII
Written and directed by Jean-François Martel
If Keone Nunes had never picked up the tools and answered the call to master of kakau, there would likely be no traditional tattooing in Hawaii today. Reviving this ancient art form was Keone’s life project, and today he is reaping the rewards of his tremendous effort in cultural renewal. Hawaiian tattoo has become a key part of a great Polynesian awakening that, over the last few decades, has revitalized the Hawaiian islands’ Indigenous community. Going far beyond aesthetics, kakau heals, protects, and preserves. It upholds the spirit of aloha, a philosophy that continues to guide Hawaiians in modern times.
Keone Nunes is one of the leaders of the cultural renaissance that has transformed Hawaii over the last four decades. As a child and teenager, he spent countless hours at the feet of elders, listening to their stories in order to know the islands as they were before the arrival of Europeans. It was only later, as an adult, that he heard the call to revive kakau, the tattooing art that had virtually vanished in the course of the twentieth century. Learning from tattoo masters from other parts of Polynesia, Keone founded a kakau practice near Honolulu, and went on to become the kahuna of traditional Hawaiian tattoo.