Kumu Hula Kapono’ai Molitau and his wife Jennifer are the owners of the Wailuku-based store Native Intelligence (NI). Together, they are at the helm of a resource center that offers inspirational teachings and goods about Hawai’i’s land and culture. “Our mission is all about teachable moments,” said Molitau. “We are more than a traditional retail establishment. NI is an advocate for both Hawaiian culture and community. Our goal is to champion cultural traditions, craftsmanship, and good designs while perpetuating Hawaiian values and showcasing local artisans and creatives who strive to protect and evolve the culture.”
Neither a museum nor gallery, NI creates a retail environment allowing customers to experience a wide selection of merchandise and various activities that are Hawaiian by definition. The Molitaus, following Covid-19 safety guidelines, strive to make NI a retail space that has something for everyone, as well as space to hold workshops on a variety of topics.
“From the various practitioners who try to perfect ancient skills, to new businesses that reflect a contemporary sensibility, we present the spectrum of what is good in Hawaiian design,” Molitau explained. “Working with community leaders and neighborhood schools, we hope to extend the educational programs and resources beyond our doors. As our name implies, NI encourages the efforts of those who exemplify the best and brightest in Hawaii and Polynesia.”
May 2020 marked NI’s 11th year in Wailuku. Today, they continue to enrich the community by offering classes by master practitioners, to experience hana no’eau (traditional artwork), mele oli (traditional chant and music), lei hula (featherwork), and more.
“We work year round to partner with businesses and individuals to bring useful, unique, and beautiful goods to our shelves, providing supplies in hula such as pahu (drum), ipu heke (double-gourd instrument), pūniu (knee drum), ulῑ’ulῑ (feathered gourd rattles), and pū’ili (bamboo rattles),” said Molitau. “We feature woodwork such as holua sleds, umeke (wooden bowl), fine fiber and feather arts, and fine Hawaiian and Polynesian jewelry such as pūpū o’Ni’ihau (ocean shells), pūpū momi Tahiti (pearls) and pōnamu (fine green jade from Aotearoa). Visit us in person or online at native-intel.com.”
Mahalo nui for supporting NI over the years. We continue to strive to showcase hand-crafted items and unique workshops.
Kapono’ai Molitau, Kumu Hula, Owner, Native intelligence