For generations, Hawaiians passed down history and culture through oli and dance. In the 20th century, audio and visual equipment helped capture these oral and dance traditions to transmit them to future generations. The new media recorded all aspects of life in the islands across cultural communities. But these captured moments on film and tape, some dating back 100 years, are fast disappearing due to the deterioration of materials and obsolescence of devices that can play them.
The need for preservation is dire.
“We are in a race against time. We need to save what we can, digitize the media, and have that content identified – especially the oldest material – so that we can grow into a robust visual library and become an important primary educational resource.”
Filmmaker and the archive’s consultant for collection development and community outreach, Heather Giugni
The mission of ‘Ulu‘ulu: The Henry Ku‘ualoha Giugni Moving Image Archive of Hawai‘i is “to perpetuate and share the rich moving image heritage of Hawai‘i through the preservation of film and videotape related to the history and culture of Native Hawaiians and the people of Hawai‘i.”
Ulu‘ulu is located in the UH West O‘ahu library and is a project of UH’s Academy for Creative Media System and UH West O‘ahu. It is the official Moving Image Archive for the State of Hawai'i by legislative action.
A work in progress, the archive’s 11,000 square feet will contain an exhibition space, screening area, and computer terminals where visitors can view entire collections of digitized materials. This is in addition to restoring, preserving, cataloging and digitizing moving images that are the heart of the archive.
“While preservation is important to us, public access is just as important as saving these films and video tapes. That’s why we encourage people to view the film and video clips available at 'Ulu'ulu’s website and contact us if they need to see more of the collection than what’s online.”
Chris Lee, founder and director of the Academy for Creative Media
The archive has digitized over 650 videotapes and films, and stored more than 400 hours of material on servers. This includes a Maui county fair in the ’20s, an early flight of Hawaiian Airlines, the 1968 and 1978 constitutional conventions, Crater Festival concerts and newscasts. More than 700 boxes containing nearly 16,000 videotapes and film reels are in the process of being saved.
Many reels of film and video footage of Hawai‘i’s history remain hidden in closets and attics and back storerooms across the islands. Museums, media outlets, libraries, and filmmakers are encouraged to donate their films and videos to the archive so they can be preserved and digitized before they are lost.
Private support is needed to help purchase equipment and digital storage space. Donations are also needed for a compact shelving system that will to help make the climate-controlled storage vault, where the collection is stored, fully operational.