Hawaiʻi Island artist, dancer, cultural practitioner and clothing designer Sig Zane delivers the keynote address at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo fall commencement on Saturday, December 21 at 9 a.m. in the UH Hilo New Gym.
Students have petitioned for a total of 262 degrees and/or certificates from the colleges of Arts and Sciences (174), Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management (19), Business and Economics (21), and Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikolani College of Hawaiian Language (18), while 30 others are candidates for various post-graduate honors.
Zane, an O`ahu native, moved to Hilo in the mid-1970s in search of an unhurried life and to study the Hawaiian culture. He joined Hilo’s Halau O Kekuhi in 1981, and immersed himself in the art of hula under the direction of Edith Kanaka`ole along with her daughters Pua Kanahele and Nalani Kanaka`ole, who he would later marry. Through hula, Zane developed a deep understanding of the relationship between native plants and the Hawaiian culture.
He opened Sig Zane Designs in Downtown Hilo over 25 years ago, featuring a line of aloha shirts, dresses, bags and tees with popular motifs that reflect native Hawaiian culture, heritage and practices. Zane, Nalani, and their son, Kuhaoimaikalani, have been working together for more than a decade on special projects which combine their unique designs with fundamentals rooted in culture and place. They have produced iconic images for jewelry, hotel rooms and airplanes, and most recently created the traditional bamboo stamp design ohe kapala for Hawaiian Electric Incorporated.
Amanda O’Farrell, a Hawaiian studies major, is student speaker. O’Farrell was born in Hilo, raised in Puna, and graduated from the Kamehameha Schools Kea`au campus. She has maintained a 3.6 GPA at UH Hilo and made the Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikolani Dean’s List four times.
O’Farrell has been an active participant in numerous cultural and environmental initiatives throughout the island, taking part in invasive species removal around Hale Pohaku on Mauna Kea, collecting native species seeds at Hualalai, and participating in a heiau clean-up in Keaukaha. Her immediate post-graduate plans are to care for her two young children, but hopes to return within two years to pursue a masters degree in ethnobotany/ethnomedicine. Her dream is to be a traditional Hawaiian healer, practicing the art of la`au lapa`au and lomilomi. She also expressed interest in pursuing a Ph.D. in traditional medicine or public health.