Aloha mai kākou! My name is Mele Ana Kastner. I am a Native Hawaiian artist working in conservation on the Island of Oʻahu. The Hawaiian Islands’ unique geography and climate gave rise to one of the world’s most beautiful and unique ecosystems. It is through this deep connection between mountain and sea that life continues to thrive on these islands. Climate change and invasive species threaten this balance. Through my day job, my team and I devote ourselves to protecting the forests and streams to ensure the health of Oʻahu and its people. During my days off, I have been learning the ancient practice of uhau humu pōhaku from my Kumu Kimeona Kane at Huilua Loko Iʻa in Kahana, Koʻolauloa. Place, stewardship, and culture are values I hold dear to me and I incorporate these aspects into my art.
The logo for the AFS 154th Annual Meeting pays homage to the stories of our kūpuna who traversed across the ocean by using their keen observations of nature. Astronomical events, winds and weather patterns, ocean swells, and the flight of birds gave clues as to where fish (and islands) may be. Fishing trips turned into long voyages intent on settling distant islands connected by a vast oceanic highway. One of the many moʻolelo of Maui tell the story of how he fished out the islands with his magical fishhook. Thanks to this legendary fishing trip, our ancestors confirmed the islands’ existence and subsequently founded a home here.
The different elements of this tradition are represented in this design. The lawaiʻa follow the birds, wind and ocean currents chasing fish such as mahimahi, opah, aʻu (billfish) and ono (wahoo). Diving seabirds indicate where large schools of fish hide beneath the waves before flying home towards land after catching their fill. The high mountains of the islands reveal themselves to the lawaiʻa on these journeys. The separate images together form a giant makau, the fishhook and symbol of the lawaiʻa.