UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has declared October 27 World Day for Audiovisual Heritage.  The designation of this day is “to raise general awareness of the need for urgent measures to be taken. It also focuses on acknowledging the importance of audiovisual documents as an integral part of national identity.”

From UNESCO’s Website:

Transcending language and cultural boundaries, appealing immediately to the eye and the ear, to the literate and illiterate, audiovisual documents have transformed society by becoming a permanent complement to the traditional written record. However, they are extremely vulnerable and it is estimated that we have no more than 10 to 15 years to transfer audiovisual records to digital to prevent their loss. Much of the world’s audiovisual heritage has already been irrevocably lost through neglect, destruction, decay and the lack of resources, skills, and structures, thus impoverishing the memory of mankind. Much more will be lost if stronger and concerted international action is not taken.

This falls in line with the mission and work that ʻUluʻulu aims to accomplish recognizing the integral part moving images play in national identity and human rights:

‘Ulu‘ulu: The Henry Ku‘ualoha Giugni Moving Image Archive of Hawai‘i aims to perpetuate and share the rich moving image heritage of Hawai‘i through the preservation of film and videotape related to the history and culture of Native Hawaiians and the people of Hawai‘i.

Through ʻUluʻulu people can access these important moving treasures to learn from the elders of Hawaiʻi who struggled to preserve culture, heritage, language, and rights.  Here are some clips from ‘Ulu‘ulu’s collections that demonstrate UNESCO’s message and vision of World Day for Audiovisual Heritage!

Hawaiian Rights

Waiāhole/Waikāne March. Victoria Keith Productions Collection

In the 1970s the residents of Waiāhole/Waikāne on the windward side learned that the landowner had planned to evict them and build new condominiums. The local residents, realizing that this would drastically change their way of life, organized to stop the project from moving forward.  This formed a diverse movement of Hawaiians, locals, and students from the university which was successful in halting the project.  This action, along with other actions such as the struggle against evictions at Kalama Valley, was part of a large grassroots movement that re-emerged in Hawaiʻi during the 70s and continues on today.

The Sand Island Story. Victoria Keith Productions Collection

As rapid development hit Hawaiʻi in the 70s and 80s, Hawaiians struggled to maintain their way of life. Sand Island was a “neglected dumping grounds for garbage and industrial wastes” in Honolulu harbor. Over 100 Hawaiian families cleaned up the island making it their home; living in the cultural ways of their ancestors. They struggled with the state and were eventually evicted, making way for a state park. But this action was part of the re-emergence of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement where people articulated and began to fight for Hawaiian rights.


Pūnana Leo classroom footage. Juniroa Productions Collection

Interview with Kauanoe Kamanā. Juniroa Productions Collection

In 1896 under Act 57 Sec. of the Laws of the Republic of Hawaiʻi ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language) was banned. The banning of the language was detrimental to Native Hawaiians, because through language comes identity and culture. Around the cultural renaissance a movement was started to revive the Hawaiian language for the survival of Hawaiians. As part of this movement Pūnana Leo (language nests) were formed as Hawaiian language immersion schools. These were formed by new Hawaiian teachers with the help of manaleo (native speakers of the language). Faced with challenges such as budgets and facilities, the language nests thrive today and are key in keeping the language alive.


Leinaʻala Heine : Chant and Hula. CLEAR, HKG Pilot Project Collection

Hāna hālau discussing hula implements. Juniroa Productions Collection

With the arrival of the missionaries, hula was denounced in the early 19th century. During the reign of King David Kalākaua hula was encouraged by the King as part of his campaign to revive the Hawaiian culture. After the overthrow, hula remained underground and with only a few families– it was not danced in public. However, in the 1970s as part of the Hawaiian cultural renaissance, Hula began to be practiced and performed on a massive scale, and remains an important part of Hawaiians reclaiming their identity and tradition. Hula honors the elements and teaches us the history of and honors wahi pana (sacred sites), Hawaiian deities and aliʻi.

— By Koa Luke


One response to “UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

  1. Great information Koa! Mahalo for posting. Reinforcing the importance of saving moving images representing our community, our voice.

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