When U‘ilani Todd was sworn in as a newly minted member of the Maui Historical Society’s board of trustees two years ago, she was already on familiar ground. Literally.
The Maui Historical Society operates Hale Ho‘ike‘ike (“house of display”) at the Bailey House. It’s a place Todd, a Realtor-Salesperson with Lowson & Associates, has known all her life. “As a Bailey descendant, I have been a member [of the Maui Historical Society] since I was a child,” she said. And now as a trustee, Todd said, “It is my responsibility to support and contribute to preserve both my Hawaiian and Bailey heritages.”
The mission home-turned-museum in Wailuku was built on what was once the royal compound of Kahekili, Maui’s last ruling chief. It is the former residence of missionary teacher Edward Bailey, and his wife, Caroline, who lived on the property until 1888. “Not only was he a teacher, engineer, civil servant, painter and true renaissance man, but he was also a surveyor,” she explained. “He assisted as many families as he could lay claim to their ancestral lands at the time of the Great Mahele.”
The Maui Historical Society opened Hale Ho‘ike‘ike as a museum in 1957. Today, it is home to Maui’s largest collection of pre-contact Hawaiian artifacts, as well as 19th century missionary artifacts, furniture and artwork (including some of Edward Bailey’s paintings). Behind the scenes, the Maui Historical Society operates an archival resource center at the museum that includes more than 10,000 historic photographs, along with maps, manuscripts, documents, biographies, genealogy records, and more than 2,000 rare objects.
And Hale Ho‘ike‘ike at the Bailey House is more than a repository for cultural and historical treasures. It’s also a gathering place where residents and visitors can take part in hands-on workshops, presentations, concerts and other community events. In 2017, Todd and her fellow trustees launched the biannual E Pulama Mau Ia Maui exhibition series, which showcases original artwork and never-seen-before items from the museum’s archives. The current exhibition, titled “Na Aloha Aina,” features 24 original portraits of Hawaii’s ali‘i (royalty) through the ages and will be display in the museum’s exhibition hall through the end of May.
On Sunday, May 5, the Maui Historical Society and the County of Maui Office of Economic Development will present “E Ola! E Lawe i Ke A‘o A Mālama A E ‘Oi Maui Ka Na‘auao” (“he who takes his teachings and applies them increases his knowledge”) from noon to 5 p.m. in the Baldwin High School auditorium. The hula drama, which was created by Kula Kaiapuni O Pa‘ia to benefit Kula Kaiapuni O Maui (Maui’s Hawaiian immersion schools), depicts the epic battle between ‘Ai‘ai, the son of Ku‘ulakai, and Ko‘ona, a supernatural eel.
“This hula drama is an inspiring contemporary fable,” Todd said. “Many of the Maui halaus that participated in the Merrie Monarch Festival will be performing. Hula is a visually impactful example of the preservation and perpetuation of the Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures. Although we did not have a written language, our oral traditions gave us tremendous insight about sustainable living. It’s beautiful.”
Todd encourages everyone to attend “E Ola! E Lawe i Ke A‘o A Mālama A E ‘Oi Maui Ka Na‘auao” and to consider participating in other Maui Historical Society-sponsored events throughout the year. “Preserving the Hawaiian culture and history parallel to the teaching of American history is paramount,” she said. “We have a unique opportunity to share the histories of many cultures through the history of Hawaii. Hawaii is a fabulous blending of many ethnicities. We should all embrace tolerance and an appreciation for the similarities and differences between us.”
Tickets for “E Ola! E Lawe i Ke A‘o A Mālama A E ‘Oi Maui Ka Na‘auao” are on sale now. Tickets are $10 for adults; $5 for seniors; $5 for kids ages 7 to 12; free for kids ages 6 and under. Pre-show festivities begin at noon and the performance starts at 1 p.m. To purchase tickets or for more information, call 244-3326 or visit mauimuseum.org. Hale Ho‘ike‘ike at the Bailey House is located at 2375-A Main St. in Wailuku. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Cost of admission is $7 for adults; $5 for seniors (ages 60 and over); $5 for kama‘aina, $5; $2 for kids ages 7 to 12; free for kids ages 6 and under. To learn more about volunteer, donor or internship opportunities, call 244-3326, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.mauimuseum.org.
By Sarah Ruppenthal
The Maui News – April 27, 2019