Beyond “Moana”: Hawai’i/Pacific Resources

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on December 5, 2016.

Even if you haven’t gone out yet to see it, you probably know by now that Disney’s new film, Moana, is the story of a chief’s daughter who navigates across the ocean and enlists the help of Maui to save her home. You may have also heard interviews with the filmmakers, who say that they researched thoroughly the legends of Oceania, but ultimately, in order to create a more “pan-Pacific” film, they intentionally chose to mix different legends and traditions together. I don’t doubt that they tried, as individuals and artists, to do their best to honor the cultures to whom these stories belong. Yet don’t we all know by now that Disney will do anything to make a buck? Don’t we also know that Disney is often willing to stretch the boundaries of cultural sensitivity in order to provide entertainment value?

I realized, in the midst of my Moana-induced annoyance, that some of the very best resources that we commonly use in library school here in Hawai’i are probably not as well-known elsewhere. If a person in, say, the Midwest, wanted to know something about Hawai’i, would they know where to look? So I decided I might as well turn lemons into lemonade, and use this opportunity to share some of our best resources with you, the wider community of librarians-in-the-making. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

‘Ulu’Ulu – The Henry Ku’ualoha Giugni Moving Picture Archive of Hawai’i. A treasure to behold, this amazing gallery of archival footage and films aims to preserve and protect the motion picture heritage of Hawai’i and Hawaiian culture. So much of what is here can be found nowhere else! For longer films, only short clips can be seen on the site, and the archive must be contacted in order to see the whole movie. – A digital Hawaiian library. If you don’t read ‘ōlelo Hawai’i, you’ll probably want to click on the “English text” tab at the top before you start trying to use it.Tabs at the top offer: Dictionaries, Books (includes children’s books), Newspapers, Genealogy, Hawaiian Place Names, Hawaiian-language Bible, and More (SO much more). – This is an online Hawaiian/English dictionary. Probably extra useful to those of you who don’t have a print copy on your shelf like I do. Again, you’ll probably want to start by clicking on “English text” at the top.

Hawaii Pacific Journal Index – A project of the University of Hawai’i, this is the only index that collects together all types of journals from the vast region of Oceania.

Bob Krauss Research Index – Don’t let the simple interface fool you! This is an AMAZING resource for finding articles from English-language Hawai’i daily newspapers between 1840-1944. Not comprehensive, but contains material found nowhere else. Many citations have links to the full-text in Chronicling America.

Papakilo Database – A website of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Papakilo offers a wealth of information that often cannot be found elsewhere (or at least, not easily). Invaluable for those researching genealogy in Hawai’i. Includes a section for original land claims made during the Mahele (1848 land division of Hawai’i, when private ownership of land was introduced), as well as a section where you can search the Hawaiian language newspapers (and keep in mind, the VAST majority of everything that was ever published in Hawaiian has yet to be translated).

I hope to have inspired (or just reminded) you to look beyond the pop culture of the moment; to look deeper for real resources, and to please remember that Oceanic cultures are vast and varied. If you enjoyed the Disney movie, I hope you’ll put at least as much energy into learning more about Oceania.

Mahalo for reading!

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