The Science and Culture of Art - Maui the Kitemaker

Lesson 2 - Introduction to Kapa, Kapa Plants, and Beating of the Kapa


Kapa was the “cloth” that was used by the people of the South Pacific Islands and Hawaii. Not an actual cloth, kapa was really paper, though strong sturdy paper that made excellent clothes and blankets. In our activities we will learn how people found and chose plants for kapa making, how they made tools, and the many uses of kapa. Students will make kapa themselves using traditional tools. (Art/Culture)


People living on islands had to make the most with the materials at hand to live and survive. Science was not an abstract idea to people who worked closely with nature. Rather, it was critical to be aware of the way nature behaved in order to live in harmony with it. How does the way we live and interact with nature now differ from the way people lived in ancient times? For example, people paid very close attention to the rain and sun because they directly affected food sources, such as banana, kalo and sweet potato. If there was a drought or a famine and the food plants died, the people in the village or the entire island would be directly affected. Many might die, or they might have to move somewhere else. Today, our food comes from all around the world. If there are no vegetables in one place, people will buy them from some other country. The grocery stores we shop at will almost always have the food we are accustomed to eating.