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E Haku Inoa: To Weave a Name

Posted by WMHT Web Editor on

Watch Friday, May 8, 2015 at 7pm on WORLD.

In Hawaiian culture, you don't give a name, you hake (to weave) inoa (name). 

A young multi-racial Kanaka Maoli woman, filmmaker Christen Hepuakoa Marquez, was born in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. Christen's family deteriorated when her mother Elena was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and she moved to Seattle as a young girl with her father and brothers. After nearly 20 years of living in the continental U.S., she returns to Hawai'i to learn the meaning of her incredibly long Hawaiian name from her estranged mother. 

For Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians), a name is often considered a sacred extension of a person's identity. Words are artfully woven together to create a poem celebrating the namesake's heritage and destiny. Elena created Christen's name and is the only person who knows its true meaning. Christen doggedly pursues this piece of her identity, struggling through tears and misunderstandings to unlock the mystery not only of her name, but also of her mother.

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