Innovation and Prosperity

A dry hook catches no fish.
A Hawai'ian Makau made from pre-ban ivory, native Koa wood, mother of pearl and hand-braided cording

Aloha. I am often asked about the fish hook I wear, which is the one shown in the picture here.

This is a composite Makau (fish hook) fashioned after one in the Bishop Museum originally carved around 400 years ago. It was fashioned for me many years ago by a kahuna kalai (master carver) named Vince Cabanilla, and is created using only materials of the islands – pre-ban whale ivory, Hawi’ian Koa wood, mother of pearl wedges and hand-braided cording.

The Makau (also called a Hei Matau in New Zealand) represents strength and prosperity because to be able to fish the fertile waters around the islands was to be able to feed one’s ohana (family) and provide for their needs. The Makau also represents innovation, because a fisherman had to be a craftsman of many types to blend bone, wood and shells into a hook able to catch sharks and other large fishes without benefit of metals, ores or any tools beyond those provided by nature itself – coral files and rasps, sharks teeth and skin, and volcanic obsidian gifted by Pele (who loves gifts in kind of Gin left nestled in an ‘Ohia tree).

When I see this Makau every morning, I consider the future of my children and children around the world – that we must provide for them through innovation, creativity and strength while also protecting the resources provided in the world according to the same kapu (system of fishing taboos) practices that have ensured the cyclic return of fishes since the time of the menehune (Hawi’ian “little people”). The menehune were themselves master craftsmen of sufficient capability that their stoneworks and elevated aquaculture ponds remain watertight after thousands of years. Translated from the native Hawi’ian, the phrase “A dry hook catches no fish” reminds us that ideas, no matter how well wrought, provide nothing if they remain unused.

I have spent many years searching for a modern-day Menlo Park where ideas and innovations could find a home to develop and grow amongst interdisciplinary experts to meet the needs of the future. I have designed hundreds of new technologies and tested dozens of prototypes, only to see some few created years later by other innovators who finally found the capability to bring their dreams to fruition. I have not found such a place yet, but am still seeking and testing my ideas as I am able. As Yeats once wrote: “But I, being poor, have only my dreams” and so I have decided to present my ideas and dreams so that others might move ahead to forge that better future for our children.

Many of my designs derive from Hawai’ian traditional ideas from the high-speed transportion system’s basis in Proa sailboat design, the floating modular power generation system based around the Upena throw-nets, the propless submersible propulsion system based on marine wildlife, the Project HiPAAC design for cooperative high performance computing spawned from considering how the Aloha Spirit fits in today’s world, the Solar Seaweed power generation system developed from studies of reef protection needs, and even to more conceptual designs like the virtual magnetic monopole that came from thoughts of the ho’okalakupua (the beginning of all things) while visiting my older brother’s resting place on the backside of Diamond Head.

I would like to think that we can discover innovations in every aspect of our lives if we merely look closely enough and choose to share our dreams like the SOLID Learning open educational model. I will tag my designs so they will show in the Innnovation link at the top of this blog (or directly at, and will upload more as time permits. Please visit here often and allow these ideas to spark even more within you.

I hope that my hook will not remain dry in the days and years ahead.