Herb Kawainui Kane

View Art by Herb Kawainui Kane


HERB KAWAINUI KANE (pronounced KAH-ney) is an artist-historian and author with special interest in Hawai'i and the South Pacific. Born in 1928, he was raised in Waipi'o Valley and Hilo, Hawai'i, and Wisconsin. After Navy service, he studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (master's degree 1953) and at the University of Chicago. He resides in rural South Kona on the island of Hawaii.

Mr. Kane’s experience has included advertising art, publishing art, architectural design, painting, writing, and sculpture. Clients include many private collectors, the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, the National Park Service, National Geographic, and major publishers of books and periodicals. His art has appeared on seven postage stamps for the U.S. Postal Service, as well as stamps for the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and French Polynesia. As a design consultant, he has worked on resorts in Hawaii and the South Pacific and a cultural center in Fiji. Books now in print are Pele, Goddess of Hawaii's Volcanoes (1987, revised 1995), and Voyagers (1991, reprinted 2006) which includes 140 of his works in color. Another illustrated book, Ancient Hawaii August 1998, describes the arts, skills, society and world-view of the Polynesians who discovered and flourished in what became the Hawaiian Islands.

Research on Polynesian canoes and voyaging led to his participation as general designer and builder of the sailing canoe Hokule'a, which he served as its first captain in 1975. Hokule'a has now made several Hawaii-Tahiti voyages, and voyages to New Zealand, Easter Island, Tonga, the Marquesas Islands, the Cook Islands, Micronesia and Japan, of which more than 110,000 miles were navigated without modern instruments. He is well known for paintings that expertly depict the many types of Polynesian and Micronesian sailing canoes. In 1984 he was elected a Living Treasure of Hawaii. In the 1987 Year of the Hawaiian Celebration, he was one of sixteen persons chosen as Po'okela(Champion). From 1988 to 1992 he served as a founding trustee of the Native Hawaiian Culture & Arts Program, a Federal program at Bishop Museum. In 1998, he was awarded Bishop Museum's Charles Reed Bishop Medal. In 2002, he received an award for excellence from The Hawaii Book Publishers Association.

Very sadly, Mr. Kane passed away on March 8, 2011. His contributions to Hawaii and to the Hawaiian people cannot be overstated; he not only served as a historian and author, but also as a tremendous role model for all people. Herb Kane will be missed tremendously.