The Fukumitsu ʻOhana (family) of Hakipuʻu are Native Hawaiian taro farmers and keepers of this generational practice. While much of Oʻahu has become urbanized, Hakipuʻu remains a kīpuka (oasis) of traditional knowledge where great chiefs once resided and their bones still remain. The Fukumitsus are tossed into a world of complex real estate and judicial proceedings when nearby Kualoa Ranch, a large settler-owned corporation, destroys their familial burials to make way for continued development plans.
This film is part of a series and multimedia platform, made in partnership with Indigenous storytellers and their communities worldwide, invites learning from time-honored and current Indigenous ways of being. Facing a climate crisis, the Reciprocity Project embraces Indigenous value systems that have bolstered communities since the beginning of time. To heal, we must recognize that we are in relationship with Earth, a place that was in balance for millenia. More information at www.reciprocity.org.
Justyn Ah Chong is a Native Hawaiian filmmaker from Mililani, Oʻahu. After graduating from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in 2011, Justyn worked as a cinematographer and editor at ʻŌiwi Television Network – Hawaii’s first Indigenous broadcast station. In 2019 his narrative short DOWN ON THE SIDEWALK IN WAIKĪKĪ premiered at the Maoriland Film Festival in New Zealand and shared the People’s Choice Award for Best Short Drama before continuing on to screen at 20+ festivals around the world and winning several other awards.
Most recently, Justyn was involved in producing the George Helm narrative bio-pic, HAWAIIAN SOUL (2020), which premiered at the 2020 Hawaii International Film Festival and won best Made in Hawaii Short and an Audience Award. He’s currently producing Kekama Amona’s narrative short film, E MĀLAMA PONO WILLY BOY, and is in pre-production for his second directorial narrative short, THE MAN AND THE TREE. Concurrently, Justyn continues to create culturally-inspired, place-based stories on a work-for-hire basis through his production company, Olonā Media.
It seems that now more than ever, Native Hawaiian burials are being dug up and ancestral remains disturbed for the sake of continued “development,” “progress,” and economic gain here in the occupied Hawaiian Kingdom. By highlighting the Fukumitsu family and their ongoing struggle to protect their ʻiwi kūpuna (family burials), I hope this film sheds light on the reciprocal relationship Native Hawaiians maintain with their family beyond the veil, and allows others to see why for us, it isnʻt simply old bones in the ground, but rather treasures worth protecting at all costs.