Havaiki Oceanic & Tribal Art – Hanalei, HI

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In Hawaii, where cheap souvenir tikis can be found everywhere, Havaiki is a diamond in the rough. This Hanalei gallery, named after the legendary homeland of Polynesians, specializes in traditional art from the Oceania region and points beyond.

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In 2002, Jim Punter and his wife, Vicki, left their home on the Virgin Islands and for five years sailed around the South Pacific, buying and trading for art directly with villagers. Their goal was to open a gallery on Kauai, which is overseen by Dylan Thomas, a native of South Africa who was first mate on that epic voyage. He’s a delight to talk with (especially with that accent!) and a wealth of information about the collection.

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Some visitors compare browsing in the store to like being in a museum. I especially like the little room decorated like a hut with a bamboo and thatch entrance.

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A wide array of items are for sale, including carved tikis of various sizes, war clubs, shields, masks, paddles, walking sticks and tapa cloth, plus handcrafted jewelry. They also have an online store and a Facebook page where they post photos of the latest acquisitions.

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Dylan continues to make trips to the South Pacific to stock up on artifacts, but a growing part of the gallery’s wares come from local artists in Hawaii. In fact I’m quite sure that these tikis were made by the carver I saw over at the Westin Princeville.

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A lot of work and care has been put into curating the selection, which is something to account for when looking at the prices. There are some budget buys among the big-ticket items, though.

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If you find the island weather too humid and your shorts too constricting, you can purchase your own koteka, hand-woven from natural fibers by the Asmat people in Papua New Guinea. Just tie one of these “penis gourds” around your waist and you’re ready to go…or you could just display it in your house.

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One of my favorite pieces was this modern reproduction of a Dayak Kliau (shield) from East Kalimantan, Borneo. The description says it would have been used against blowpipe attacks and the “curvilinear designs convey fierceness and preservation of vital energies.”

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Havaiki Oceanic & Tribal Art is located among the stores in the Hanalei Center, conveniently just down the street from the Tahiti Nui tiki bar. The shop is not immediately visible from the highway — it’s in a cottage-like building behind Bubba’s Burgers. You should see a couple tikis mounted on tall poles signaling you’re headed in the right direction.

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Havaiki Oceanic & Tribal Art
5-5161 Kuhio Hwy. (Hanalei Center)
Hanalei, Kauai, HI 96714
808-826-7606

Related Posts:
Aloha from Hanalei, Ching Young Village Shops, Hanalei
Tiki Carver at the Westin Princeville, Kauai
Tahiti Nui Tiki Bar, Hanalei

Tiki Festival Long Beach – Ohana by the Sea

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Last weekend was Tiki Oasis in San Diego, the biggest Southern California tiki event of the year, but again I wasn’t able to muster the forethought or finances. (In related news: We bought a house!) Coincidentally, August 18 & 19 also happened to be the 12th annual Tiki Beach Festival in Long Beach, which was free, closer and being attended by some good friends.

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The event featured an island marketplace, food stands and Polynesian dancing and music performances throughout the day. Also mentioned on the Tiki Festival web site were tiki carvers and canoe racing, but somehow we missed those. Parking in the Belmont Shore area is not fun, but we were able to snag a space in the Granada Beach lot (free for the festival) since people were starting to pack up by the time we arrived around 4ish.

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Hawaiian chef Sam Choy’s food truck, Pineapple Express, has just started roaming the streets of Los Angeles so it was fitting for it to be there. The truck was serving up ahi poke, loco moco, pineapple upside down cake and several other dishes.

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The rest of the “Aloha Food Court” had a good range of grub, from sausages and garlic fries to Hawaiian BBQ, authentic shave ice and malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts) from Dough Dough’s. The only bummer was several vendors ran out of food by late afternoon.

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I had prepared myself for the kind of price gouging we encounter at the L.A. County Fair, but was pleasantly surprised to find that spam musubi was just $2.50. It was a perfect mid-afternoon snack.

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This late summer heat wave was still in full force, so the best way to keep cool was with a frozen piña colada ($5). They were non-alcoholic, alas, but I did appreciate the effort they put into garnishing each drink.

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The sidewalk leading to the food court and stage was lined with booths for island-inspired jewelry, aloha shirts and Astroturf (?!). A few folks were selling handcarved tikis, while others displayed the common imported tiki masks similar to the ones I see at Terry’s Palms & Tikis at the fair.

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In my eyes the most interesting of the vendors was Bow-Tiki, which operates a vintage boutique that opened earlier this year in the East Village Arts District of Long Beach. I liked how they blend tiki with turn-of-the-century style.

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They had set up their space to look like a bazaar tent with bohemian rugs, antique storage trunks and tiki and nautical trinkets. Erin, one of the owners, told me it was sort of a mini version of their store.

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Their wares were a mix of vintage, handmade and new but retro-inspired attire. My favorites were the girly t-shirts from Japanese company Queen Bee. There were several cute designs, including mermaids, fish, cat-eye glasses and corsets.

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Around 7 p.m. we brought out our blanket and beach chairs on to the sand to relax while we waited for the sunset and the finale of the fire knife dancers.

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Next year, if we’re not at Tiki Oasis, we might just be back here.