Kapulei Flores

Native Hawaiian, Kanaka Maoli

Born 2000, Waimea, Hawaiʻi

Aloha, my name is Kapulei Flores and I am a Kanaka Maoli, Native Hawaiian photographer from the island of Hawaiʻi. Ever since I was young, I have used photography to capture the culture and activism of my family and community. Over the years it has turned into an outlet to provide insight into the activism of my family, my community, and the culture of my people. My family and I have been involved in the efforts to Protect Mauna Kea for over 10 years now and it has enabled us to connect with many other Indigenous people around the world. I have had the honor of traveling to places around the world to document and capture the different movements to protect what is sacred. Photography has played a powerful role in spreading the message of the Mauna Kea Movement as well as sharing it with the world. I have found the importance of documentation through photography especially when it comes to Indigenous people, culture, and protecting the land.

In this photo is the Makaliʻi ʻohana (family) giving a hoʻokupu (offerings) on the Mauna in 2019. They are waʻa (canoe) ʻohana, meaning that they voyage with knowledge and skills from our ancestors that is still used today. As Hawaiians, our culture plays a strong part in our identity and our perspective on life. Our culture is something that has been passed down to us from our ancestors and continues to be taught to kids today. Similar to many indigneous people who were overthrown by foreigners, there were times where speaking our language and doing cultural practices were illegal. Despite what our people have been through, our language and culture are constantly being preserved and perpetuated through our people today.