Abraham “Puhipau” Ahmad – Na Mamo Makamae o ka Po’e Hawai’i – Living Treasures of the Hawaiian People

Puhipau 4

‘Ulu’ulu Archive was very happy to hear that on Kamehameha Day Abraham “Puhipau” Ahmad was recognized as a Na Mamo Makamae o ka Po’e Hawai’i – Living Treasures of the Hawaiian People by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for his pioneering work as a filmmaker. The documentaries produced by Na Maka o ka ‘Aina illustrate the strength and struggles of the Hawaiian people. Puhipau was dedicated to enlightening the world about Hawaiian history, sovereignty and aloha ‘aina.

“These kūpuna are not just keepers of the flame, they are the connection and bridge to our past,” said OHA Ka Pouhana (Chief Executive Officer) Kamana’opono Crabbe. “The more we learn from our kūpuna and apply what we learn from them, the more we maintain that bond with our ancestors, our homeland, and our identity as Kanaka ‘Ōiwi.”

Puhipau was part of the events that transpired at Sand Island from September 1979 to January 1980 in which a predominantly Native Hawaiian fishing community who had moved onto the public land, creating homes, resisted eviction from the Honolulu shoreline by the State of Hawai’i. He sought to give the community a voice in hopes they would be heard and able to remain on the land. In the end, the families and structures were removed. But the struggle is remembered. The documentary “The Sand Island Story”, produced by filmmaker Victoria Keith and her partner Jerry Rochford, captured the moments that unfolded during the difficult months.

After his experience at Sand Island he decided to become a storyteller through film as well, joining forces with video producer Joan Lander, whom he met during the editing of The Sand Island Story, to form Nā Maka o ka ‘Aina.

He made significant contributions to film by allowing issues that remain part of the Hawaiian experience to be explored from their perspective and give a greater understanding of what it means to be part of the Hawai’i islands.


On behalf of Puhipau and his ‘ohana, we mahalo all of the honorees today. As Puhipau used to say, we the filmmakers are not the stars: the stars are the people like you and many others in our programs who keep alive the culture and history, who string together lei of flowers and lei of islands and continents, who strive to protect sacred ancestral places, and who struggle against the powers  that be to bring about aloha ‘aina.

~Joan Lander, acceptance speech at Na Mamo Makamae o ka Po’e Hawai’i – Living Treasures of the Hawaiian People

Read full acceptance speech here.


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