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Auli‘i Cravalho Moana

"Moana" star Auli‘i Cravalho’s future is shining bright.


Best of the Islands: Arts & Culture

By The Editors

Portraits by Joshua Fletcher, Adam Jung and Olivier Koning


From the silver screen to the creativity-fused eateries of Chinatown, Hawai‘i is bustling with new openings, hot brands and fresh talents that are earning critical cred far beyond our shores. Here, our look at all that’s bright and buzzworthy in 2017.

A Star is Born
The voice of the heroine in Disney’s Oscar-nominated animated hit Moana, Auli‘i Cravalho has the whole world listening.

In Moana, the eponymously named heroine is plucky and terrifically likable—much like the aspiring talent behind her, Auli‘i Cravalho. And at just 16 years old, the Kohala native and Kamehameha Schools student is taking on the world. In fact, the movie set a new record for Walt Disney Animation Studios by making $15.5 million on its Wednesday debut, making it the biggest opening day ever for a film released on a pre-Thanksgiving day.

With all the worldwide success of the movie, Cravalho is overwhelmed and overjoyed, appreciating the opportunities it has afforded her. In a surprising twist, the teen talent had actually been reluctant to audition over two years ago and was even the final person to audition. Upon receiving the good news from L.A., she was understandably stunned. “‘Is this real?’ I asked myself,” says Cravalho. “I still can’t wrap my head around it!” She then adds: “I’m having the adventure of a lifetime.” So what’s been the most rewarding part of her whirlwind journey toward cinematic success? “Working with Lin-Manuel Miranda,” she says. “In my first recording session with him, he was on Skype. He was changing lyrics while I was singing. I’d been practicing lyrics for months, but it turned out to be incredible.” In retrospect, she says, “[the musical team] put so much heart into the movie. I definitely had my Moana ‘ohana [family].” Ready to sing along? Moana is now available on DVD. 

Fantastic Voyage
This spring, the legendary voyaging canoe Hokule‘a brings its groundbreaking Mālama Honua worldwide journey to a close. Originally launched in 1976, the traditional sea vessel has become emblematic of the Hawaiian Renaissance, sailing over 150,000 nautical miles with its crew relying on the revived Polynesian art of wayfinding (navigating with waves, sun and stars instead of modern equipment). After an opening sail through the Hawaiian Islands in 2013, Hōkūle‘a and its sister vessel, Hikianalia, left local waters to embark on a voyage of over 60,000 nautical miles. Since then, the ship has visited 14 countries and 65 ports and drawn 47,000 visitors. The crew has also met with luminaries like His Holiness the Dalai Lama and then-current Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon. As of this spring, Hōkūle‘a has begun its final leg through its native Pacific Ocean, with stops planned for Easter Island in March and French Polynesia from April to May. With the coming of summer is the momentous homecoming June 17 at Magic Island on O‘ahu—another historic event for this trailblazing vessel and its volunteer crew of over 200. 

Kimié Miner La Mer at Halekulani

Isle recording artist Kimié Miner takes five at La Mer at Halekulani.

Pitch Perfect
With her self-titled album a triumph and new music ahead, O‘ahu’s own Kimié Miner is a talent of note.

Striking a chord with her unique sound, native Hawaiian Kimié Miner is making tracks in the music business and beyond. If her debut—the Kickstarter-funded To the Sea—established Miner as an emerging talent, her encore, the complete and catchy Kimié Miner, solidified her standing as a bona fide industry player, earning the singer-songwriter a Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts 2016 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award for contemporary album of the year. A mashup of the musical styles that inspire her, from Hawaiian and reggae to jazz and R&B, Miner’s self-titled effort is particularly simpatico with her organic and soulfully informed vocals. More significantly, it speaks volumes about her maturation as an artist. Although in the midst of her own musical evolution, the well-traveled Miner remains rooted to the islands that continue to inspire it. “I’m currently back in Blue Planet Sound Studios here on O‘ahu writing and recording my next album to be released in 2017!” says the artist, whose altruistic inclinations have resulted in a number of local charitable involvements. “I am enthusiastic about the future of music here in Hawai‘i and the legacy we can leave behind.” For Miner, the future is now.  

Jason Wright

Jason Wright has upped the cool factor in Kailua-Kona’s art scene.

The Wright Stuff
Once a barefoot surfer kid on Kaua‘i and O‘ahu’s North Shore, 41-year-old Jason Wright is now a respected contemporary artist. After studying painting and design at the prestigious Corcoran College of Art in Washington, D.C., and honing his craft, he returned to Hawai‘i in 2013 and soon launched his Kailua-Kona-based Jason Wright Gallery, which has become a creative hub offering diverse design services. “People still come to me primarily for my paintings, but design is design—and photography, home and business spatial design are all now a part of the mix,” he says. In contrast to his canvases, his photography evokes memories of classic fairy tales. “My photographs are sometimes dark but always contain some light, symbolizing hope,” he says. “I define the style as Hawai‘i surrealism with a focus on mood-driven tones.” 73-5590 Kauhola St., Kailua-Kona, Hawai‘i Island, 333.6572

Auli‘i Cravalho photo by adam jung; styling by crystal pancipanci; Makeup by mariah melanie using Tom Ford Cosmetics; Hair by jake acedo; shot on location at waiea tower, ward village; ON CRAVALHO: White slit dress, $485, by Milly at Neiman Marcus, Ala Moana Center; Spike accented choker necklace, $255, by Alexis Bittar at Neiman Marcus, Ala Moana Center.

Kimié Miner photo by adam jung; styling by crystal pancipanci; MAKEUP BY MARIAH MELANIE USING TOM FORD COSTMETICS; HAIR BY JAKE ACEDO; shot on location at halekulani; ON MINER: Blazer Dress, $357, by Nicholas The Label at Neiman Marcus, Ala Moana Center; Kulamanu Necklace, Price Upon Request, by Hooked Up Hawaii at Fighting Eel, Royal Hawaiian Center; Solitaire Necklace, $355, by Vita Fede at Neiman Marcus, Ala Moana Center; Macaw Booties, $950, at

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