Kapa, or Tapa, is the traditional textile of Hawaiʻi.

The first Hawaiians carried wauke here, to the most isolated island group on the planet. They developed a kapa industry full of farmers, kapa tool makers, kapa pounders, dyers, and designers!

How It's Made

Kapa is made by stripping, pounding, and fermenting the inner bark, or bast, of the Wauke tree.The practice begins with planting wauke and tending to the earth, mālama ʻāina.  Then using native plants such as 'olena or kukui to create pigments, the kapa is dyed.

 It is an immediate immersion into native Hawaiian values of mahiʻai, farming.

From Colonization to Reclamation

With contact from the outside world, and in less than a decade, the Hawaiian Islands were completely transformed from a sustainable, balanced, thriving community, into one taken over almost completely by Western values and practices. Kapa was quickly replaced with woven textiles from America and Europe. The practice, much like the language, was almost completely lost.​

However, a handful of practitioners in recent history emerged through research, travel, apprenticeship, and practice. Today, kapa is grabbing the attention of many artisans worldwide, and is being practiced regularly here in Hawaii. Through trial and error, all of us kapa makers are still finding our way, learning our practices.

As a fiber, wauke has the potential to go beyond the fabrics of our ancestors and to become something completely new. Stay tuned to see what comes next!