New documentary on Spark Matsunaga airs Saturday

  • “Spark Matsunaga: Warrior Poet,” is the story of the late U.S. Sen. Spark Matsunaga, a Kauai native.

How often does little Kauai have an opportunity to see a world premiere movie made right here on island by local residents who happen to be media professionals?

“Warrior Poet” is such a movie. The Storybook Theatre of Hawaii in Hanapepe for the last 24 years has honored the memory and legacy of “Hanapepe boy” and late U.S. Sen. Sparky Matsunaga. Now with the help of a master storyteller Alton Takiyama-Chung and veteran videotographer Dr. Robert Zelkovsky, the dream of a documentary drama creatively telling Matsunaga’s story has come about.

The 45-minute movie will premiere in Hanapepe Saturday in the social hall of Hanapepe United Church of Christ, 4481 Kona Road at Kaumualii Highway.

The gathering will include a pupu and dessert reception beginning at 5:30 p.m. with local style pupu and desserts, followed by a program of entertainment including taiko drumming by Taiko Kauai and special guest speakers, including Dr. Brien Hallett, professor of Peace Studies at the University of Hawaii’s Matsunaga Institute of Peace in Honolulu, and Stephanie Castillio, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker.

Edited by Zelkovsky of Bamboo Moon Video Productions, the movie captures many of the more subtle moods and expressions of Matsunaga as he faces:

• The daunting challenges of such times in Hawaiian/American history as the plantation era;

• Growing up in relative poverty at the time of the Great Depression;

• Facing World War II as a Japanese American citizen, becoming a politician at the time of Hawaii statehood, becoming a U.S. congressman and senator;

• Dying in office after having founded the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.

Matsunaga was also a family man and a great host for Hawaii visitors to D.C.

The movie includes rare photos from the University of Hawaii Congressional Papers, Hawaii War Records Depository, the Japanese American Veterans Collection, and rare video and audio media from KGMB television, ‘Ulu‘ulu: The Henry Ku‘ualoha Giugni Moving Image Archive of Hawai‘i, and the Daniel K. Inouye Institute.

Tickets, $25, are available at The Storybook Theatre of Hawaii, MCS Grill, Banana Patch Studios and at

Those interested in supporting this community project by becoming program sponsors may contact Caylin Spear at

  1. harry oyama October 4, 2019 3:05 pm Reply

    He was an honorable honest compassionate person unlike the majority of most politicians. I met him once while with a bunch of biomedical research students presenting our NIH findings at Washington DC. Although he had a busy schedule at Congress in submitting his VA hospital facility next to Tripler Medical Center that was later named after him, he came by to say “hello” to us having lunch at the capital dinning room.

    My dad fought in WWII during the Italy campaign to oust the Nazi’s and actually dress his wounds while as an Army medic. He always had kind words for Spark Matsunaga, but did not like Daniel Inouye, especially when he stole some jewlery from a dead woman.

  2. I saw a Vampire once October 5, 2019 5:26 am Reply

    He died in 1986. That was awhile back. I don’t know a lot about him. Just that he was Japanese and he represented that community. Honolulu.

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