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Best of the Islands: Arts & Culture

BY The Editors | February 22, 2017 | Feature Features

From the silver screen to the creativity-fused eateries of Chinatown, Hawai‘i is bustling with new openings, hot brands and fresh talents that are earning critical cred far beyond our shores. Here, our look at all that's bright and buzzworthy in 2017.
"Moana" star Auli‘i Cravalho's future is shining bright.

A Star is Born
The voice of the heroine in Disney’s Oscar-nominated animated hit Moana, Auli‘i Cravalho has the whole world listening.

In Moana, the eponymously named heroine is plucky and terrifically likable—much like the aspiring talent behind her, Auli‘i Cravalho. And at just 16 years old, the Kohala native and Kamehameha Schools student is taking on the world. In fact, the movie set a new record for Walt Disney Animation Studios by making $15.5 million on its Wednesday debut, making it the biggest opening day ever for a film released on a pre-Thanksgiving day.

With all the worldwide success of the movie, Cravalho is overwhelmed and overjoyed, appreciating the opportunities it has afforded her. In a surprising twist, the teen talent had actually been reluctant to audition over two years ago and was even the final person to audition. Upon receiving the good news from L.A., she was understandably stunned. “‘Is this real?’ I asked myself,” says Cravalho. “I still can’t wrap my head around it!” She then adds: “I’m having the adventure of a lifetime.” So what’s been the most rewarding part of her whirlwind journey toward cinematic success? “Working with Lin-Manuel Miranda,” she says. “In my first recording session with him, he was on Skype. He was changing lyrics while I was singing. I’d been practicing lyrics for months, but it turned out to be incredible.” In retrospect, she says, “[the musical team] put so much heart into the movie. I definitely had my Moana ‘ohana [family].” Ready to sing along? Moana is now available on DVD.

Fantastic Voyage
This spring, the legendary voyaging canoe Hokule‘a brings its groundbreaking Mālama Honua worldwide journey to a close. Originally launched in 1976, the traditional sea vessel has become emblematic of the Hawaiian Renaissance, sailing over 150,000 nautical miles with its crew relying on the revived Polynesian art of wayfinding (navigating with waves, sun and stars instead of modern equipment). After an opening sail through the Hawaiian Islands in 2013, Hōkūle‘a and its sister vessel, Hikianalia, left local waters to embark on a voyage of over 60,000 nautical miles. Since then, the ship has visited 14 countries and 65 ports and drawn 47,000 visitors. The crew has also met with luminaries like His Holiness the Dalai Lama and then-current Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon. As of this spring, Hōkūle‘a has begun its final leg through its native Pacific Ocean, with stops planned for Easter Island in March and French Polynesia from April to May. With the coming of summer is the momentous homecoming June 17 at Magic Island on O‘ahu—another historic event for this trailblazing vessel and its volunteer crew of over 200.

Photography Courtesy Of: