Dalani Tanahy holding a Kapa Kite

Kapa in the Sky

At first glance the two dozen bark-cloth kites hanging in Bishop Museum’s Science Adventure Center seem incongruous. “What,” one might ask, “do kites have to do with science?”  Well, for one, this is ancient technology, predating Western contact by hundreds of years. The demigod Maui is said to have engaged in various kite-flying adventures, and petroglyphs on the Big Island document a lupe manu—literally a “bird kite,” with wings on each side. Kites have long been flown not just in Hawai‘i, but also throughout Oceania. In Aotearoa they were sometimes used for divination; Solomon Islanders used them for fishing, flying them in front of a canoe with bait attached. In parts of Micronesia, they were woven from leaves of the pandanus or other plants. In Hawai‘i, Tahiti, the Cook Islands and elsewhere, they were also made from kapa (bark cloth), itself a millennia-old Pacific textile.


Hanahou Magazine website (Kapa in the Sky)

Star Bulletin Website (Kapa in the Sky)

Honolulu Weekly Website ( Kite Runners)

Bishop Museum Website (New Kapa Kite Exhibit Features Work Of Waianae Students)