A King In China: The Life of Joseph Francis RockFilm and Discussion facilitated by Chipper Wichman, National Tropical Botanical GardenNational Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) and Kaua'i Community College will offer a glimpse into the life of the man known as 'the father of Hawaiian botany', who went on to become internationally recognized for his explorations in China. The free film showing of "A King in China: The Life of Joseph Francis Rock" will be introduced by NTBG Director and CEO Chipper Wichman on Tuesday, April 23, at 5:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at the KCC Campus Center.
Rock, a largely self-taught plant collector, has a number of Hawaiian species named for him, including the Kaua‘i endemic sedge Cyperus rockii. In the 1920s, Rock traveled to Asia for the U.S. Department of Agriculture where he collected plants used in treating Hansen's disease. He may be most known for the expeditions he led for the National Geographic Society and others in Chinese and Tibetan border regions, exhaustively documenting the culture and language of the Naxi, an ethnic minority in Yunan province. Later he continued his work in Southeast Asia before eventually returning to China and then back to Hawai'i in the 1950s. The 52-minute film covers Rock’s time in regions of Southwest China and Tibet, which remain remote today even as much of the culture has all but vanished.The 2013 showing coincides with the 100th anniversary of what many in and outside of Hawai'i consider a foundational publication on Hawaiian plant life, Rock’s 1913 The Indigenous Trees of the Hawaiian Islands, republished by NTBG in 1974. During his introduction, Wichman will share another important connection between Rock and the NTBG, the national nonprofit botanical institution headquartered on Kaua'i.
For more information about Hansen's disease in Hawaii, please stop by the college's One Stop Center (OSC) where there is an exhibit by Ka 'Ohana O Kalaupapa entitled: "A Source of Light, Constant and Never-Fading". This exhibit chronicles the leper settlement on Kalaupapa, Molokaʻi in pictures and stories. One of the missions of the organization is not only to preserve the history of Kalaupapa and those sent there, but to also re-connect families and descendants with their connection to this part of history. It is a very compelling, interesting, and emotional story. Please take some time to wander through the exhibit. The exhibit will be at Kauai Community College until May 5, 2013. OSC hours are Monday through Friday, 7:45 am - 4:30 pm.