Hawaiian Culture and Crafts
Master implement maker Calvin Hoe is one of Hawaiʻi’s premier native artisans, making authentic pre-contact Hawaiian instruments since 1961, and providing musicians, scholars, and hula practitioners with his highly valued creations. He is the co-founder of Hakipuʻu Learning Center, a Hawaiian-based public charter school. Long committed to teaching Hawaiʻi’s children, Calvin has worked at Kamehameha Schools, Queen Liliʻuokalani Children’s Center and Bishop Museum. He became a full-time maker of pre-European contact Hawaiian instruments in 1972, continuing until the charter school began in 2001. He now works with the students making instruments.
Calvin’s part-Hawaiian ancestry comes from his mother, whose family owned land for generations in Hakipuʻu on Oʻahu’s windward side. A long-time community activist, Calvin and his wife Charlene worked successfully to preserve the water rights and keep development out of neighboring Waiāhole and Waikāne Valleys, because valuable water, like the streams of Hakipuʻu, was being diverted for use in Central and Leeward Oahu agricultural fields.
Charlene and Calvin met in Minnesota, Charlene’s home state, when both attended Macalester College, a liberal arts school emphasizing community service. After marrying in 1968, the Hoes entered the Peace Corps, teaching in Micronesia. They returned to Hawaiʻi in 1970. Calvin spent the next two years teaching at Kamehameha School, but found he preferred hands-on teaching outdoors to textbook teaching indoors. That’s when Calvin began making ancient Hawaiian instruments, a nearly lost art.
As an important cultural resource, Calvin has been invited to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. on two occasions to demonstrate his art, and he is one of the few allowed into the archival recesses of museums with ancient Hawaiian instruments to touch and examine the artifacts.
As a widely respected master craftsman of hula implements, “Uncle Cal” has been involved in the renaissance of Hawaiian music, hula, and the arts for the past five decades. Since 2009, he has been in a partnership with Maile Beamer-Loo at Hula Preservation Society to present workshops on select rare forms of implement hula, such as the Hula ʻOhe, or Nose Flute Hula.
Uncle Cal has traveled the world sharing his knowledge and we are privileged to have him with us at Aloha Music Camp, teaching the making and playing of the ʻohe hano ihu, telling stories, and teaching about Hawaiian culture and craft-making.