Keoneʻulaokamakauhi Keliʻiokalani Teawenohoitalani Mākua

ʻŌiwi Hawaiʻi

GRANTEE:  Keoneʻulaokamakauhi Keliʻiokalani Teawenohoitalani Mākua
LOCATION:  Keaʻau, Oʻahu, HI
AWARD:  2021 LIFT – Early Career Support for Native Artists
DISCIPLINE:  Traditional Arts
SOCIAL MEDIA:  Instagram

Keoneʻulaokamakauhi Keliʻiokalani Teawenohoitalani Mākua follows the traditional way of kākau uhi (Hawaiian tattooing). He apprenticed under Hawaiian tattoo master, Suluʻape Keone Nunes for nearly three decades who titled him, Keoneʻulaokamakauhi, as a Hawaiian tattooing specialist in 2016. He follows in the tradition of his sixth-generation great-grandfather, Hūnōhūnōhōlani. Through the years, he has contributed actively alongside Suluʻape Keone Nunes to bring the tradition of kākau uhi back to the people of Hawaiʻi.

Mākua has come to understand and activate rituals and ceremonies that connect the spiritual to the physical and separate the sacred from the mundane. The core purpose of his work today, as Kā Uhi, is to strengthen those he works on by connecting them to their ancestral lineage, lands, and works of old through a technique called kilo (skilled observation and application). The result is the placement of the most appropriate traditional markings on the body of those who seek his work.


Mākua’s project is focused on revitalizing the practice of Kakau Uhi, traditional Hawaiian tattooing, by using the traditional method of aʻo aku, aʻo mai. He will travel to four Hawaiian Islands to offer workshops in their respective Native communities. He will also visually document traditional designs and their meaning for those he works on, and develop a repository for his students.


The preparation, the ceremony, and the enduring learning is a personal journey. It is an intimate journey of discovery and connection for the individual and their close network of family and friends.

—Keoneʻulaokamakauhi Keliʻiokalani Teawenohoitalani Mākua (ʻŌiwi Hawaiʻi)