Kaua'i, Hawaii

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May 11, 2019 — May Day by the Bay

It’s a popular community festival — May Day by the Bay 2019 at Wai’oli Beach Park, Hanalei Bay, was attended by about 700 people. This annual event organised by ‘Ahahui Kiwila Hawaii O Mo’ikeha, one of Kaua’i’s newer Civic Clubs, has been focusing on “Keeping the Culture Alive” since 2011. (It was originally started in 1981 by Doug Chang and Ku’ulei Cooper, and ran until 1993.) The festival showcases the best of Kaua’i’s people, culture, and beauty in a wonderfully organic and authentic way for visitors to the Garden Isle: there’s music, hula, various cultural displays, ono food from a diversity of stalls, and locally made arts and crafts to enjoy. Often, the musicians who sing and play there are Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards winners.

This sunny Saturday event was one that we were very proud and happy to be a part of. The best part was all the fun that everyone had together!

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February 18, 2019 — E Kanikapila Kakou Hula Night (Week 5)

Themed ‘Music is our Mo’olelo’, the 36th season of E Kanikapila Kakou (EKK), the annual heritage Hawaiian music programme co-organised by the Garden Island Arts Council and the non-profit Mālie Foundation, ran over 10 Monday nights from January to March 2019.

February 18, the fifth day of the programme, saw Kumu Lei and three other Kumu Hula — Nathan Kalama, Kamealoha Forrest, and Troy Hinano Lazaro — being invited down to the Kaua’i Beach Resort‘s Jasmine Ballroom to teach a hula each, to participants who included both locals and overseas visitors. The event was a fun and light-hearted experience for all; Kumu Lei taught Hinale, and the evening ended with a ho’ike at which all the participants could showcase what they had learnt.

EKK 2019 was funded in part by by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, and is supported by the County of Kaua’i Office of Economic Development, Kaua`i Beach Resort, and GIAC/EKK supporters. Garden Island Arts Council programmes are supported in part by the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, through appropriations from the Hawai’i State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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January 18-20, 2019 – Hawaiian Hula Workshops in San Diego, USA

From January 18 to 20 this year, Kumu Lei was in San Diego, California, teaching at the fourth edition of Hawaiian Hula International’s (HHI) extremely successful annual hula workshop series, run by Aunty Kahānoa Floresca who is Alaka’i of the hālau’s mainland USA extension. This year, the event’s theme and emphasis was King David Kalākaua. Named David Laʻamea Kamananakapu Mahinulani Naloiaehuokalani Lumialani Kalākaua at birth, and sometimes called The Merrie Monarch, he was the last king of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi.

As with previous years, this edition’s workshops were planned around equipping all participants with not only hula choreography for the year ahead, but also understanding of aloha, cultural and historical wisdom and guidance, and a sense of respect and honour for important figures in Hawaiian history, kupuna, and Ke Akua.

Kumu Lei was formally welcomed to San Diego on 18 January with a special reception and hula performance by the hālau. The 19th was a busy day indeed with no less than six hula and oli workshops, featuring both kahiko and ‘auana, with emphasis on King Kalākaua. The third day saw a focus on Hawaiian arts —  participants got to work with native Hawaiian dyes.  They learnt how to work with and dye fabric with ʻōlena and stamping material, using ‘ohe kapala and wooden stamps.

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March 9, 2019 — Mayor’s Prayer Luncheon

The 15th edition of the annual Mayor’s Prayer Luncheon, organised by Kaua’i Island Ministries and hosted by Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami, was held on March 9 at the Kilohana Luau Pavilion in Puhi. It was attended by over 1,000 individuals from the government, military, judiciary and law enforcement, the business and educational spheres, as well as church ministries and families. Many attendees were also of various other faiths and religions, but everyone was gathered in a spirit of unity to pray for Kaua’i’s leadership and the future of their shared home.

The morning’s programme saw participants praying for the government, the judiciary, the military, law enforcement, businesses, churches, families, and for county concerns, like the lost and broken among the community. Keynote speaker Alex Kendrick, a well-known actor, director, writer, and a former associate pastor at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, inspired his listeners with a message about faith, giving God the glory, and the importance of prayer. Mayor Kawakami, who was presiding over the event for the first time time, shared some of the most valuable lessons that his mother taught him.

The event was also a time of mingling and celebration, and as always, hula was a big part of the event; it is offered as a gift to and a blessing over the various delegates. Kumu Lei choreographed and directed the hula as she has in previous years, coaching and training dancers from various schools in order to promote and encourage unified support for the Luncheon and all that it represents.

After the formal presentation, a more casual, festive buffet lunch was served. The day was also spent in fun and festivity as many of the event’s participants visited and were reunited with friends.

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September 30 — Aloha Halele’a Flood Relief Concert

Despite having to be pushed back from its original date of 26 August, the Aloha Halele’a Flood Relief Concert that finally happened on 30 September was a great success. Held at a brand new theatre in Kilauea — the Anaina Hou-Porter Pavilion — the event was run as a benefit, to raise funds in aid of the many victims who lost their homes in the great floods of Spring 2018, which greatly affected the North Shore from Hanalei to Ha’ena. Roads in the area were closed for over a year, which was really hard on rescuers, builders, and displaced residents alike.

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December 15, 2018 — Christmas celebrations

The Christmas season is one in which we remember how much we are blessed and find ways to share that with the people around us. Giving back to the community as a hālau is one of the ways that we do this. So on 15 December 2018, we first went down to Regency at Puakea to share aloha and the Christmas spirit with the elderly residents, then rounded off the day’s programme by dancing at the annual County Christmas Fair — the Kaua’i-Made Holly Jolly Christmas Fair.

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November 3, 2018 — Coconut Festival

Instead of a big two-day festival, as funds are being diverted to rebuilding the devastated portions of Kaua’i’s North Shore and Hawai’i’s East Shore, November 3rd saw The CocoFest Lite Triple Event being held at Kapa’a Beach Park.

Despite being a little smaller than usual, the festival still delivered everything that was expected of it — coconut-related crafts and games, coconut-derived food galore, coconut-inspired contests, and performances by some of the best craftsmen, artists, and entertainers in Hawai’i! Our hālau was glad to dance at this fun community event.

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September 2018 — Hula Huaka’i for San Diego Haumana

September 2018 was an exciting month as the hālau hosted Aunty Kahānoa Floresca (Alaka’i of our San Diego outpost) and three of her haumana. They were here for a hula intensive with Kumu Lei, and one of the highlights of their visit was when Kumu Lei took them on a huaka’i up from Wailua into the mountains, where they gathered ‘ili’ili and learnt a hula together.

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August 2018 — Lei- and Ipu-Making Workshop for Keiki

Ti leaves are one of the most common materials used in leis, as well as a very important part of hula and of Hawaiian culture. Ipus are a common hula implement, and it’s always ideal for hula haumana to make their own if possible. So, on a bright sunny day in August 2018, the keiki mohala class had a special outdoor session at which they learnt to make ti leaf lei, and make their own ipu. Although it was hard work, everyone had a lot of fun!

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June 14-23, 2018 — Ka ‘Aha Hula ‘O Hālauaola

This year, the 5th Ka ʻAha Hula ʻO Hālauaola Hula Conference ran from 14 to 23 June and saw a total of around 1,200 participants from across the Hawaiian islands and around the world. As in previous iterations of Ka ʻAha Hula ʻO Hālauaola, they learnt from and studied with various hula masters and experts in high-level workshops, presentations, and related activities, which include huaka’i (excursions/visits) to sacred sites and historically or culturally important places in every district on Hawai’i.

Alaka’i Kahanoa Floresca of our hālau’s San Diego branch worked very hard in representing us in both the opening and closing ceremonies; Alaka’i Kapuananiokekukui Namiko (Puanani) of our Singapore branch was also around for a few days as part of our delegation.

Here are some snapshots of the event, as well as of various sites of interest and significance in Hilo.

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Event Summary: March-June 2018

The past few months have been a whirlwind of activity. Here are snapshots from some of the house blessings, private lei-making workshops, private hula lessons, weddings, and shows that Kumu Lei and the hālau have been involved in in this period.

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May 1, 2018 — Lei Day

Lei Day, a popular and highly anticipated annual Hawaiian festival that coincides with the more generic/international May Day holiday, has grown over the years to attract both local and international attention. It is said to have had its inaugural celebration in 1929. The event sees the Hawaiian islands bedecked in myriads of leis featuring all sorts of flora and foliage, as large and small observations and activities proliferate.

Kumu Lei is one of the judges for the Kaua’i Museum’s annual May/Lei Day contests; it is one of the festival’s largest and most crowded events on the island. This 38th edition of the competition was once again hosted by the Kaua’i Marriot in Lihue, and as in previous years the place was awash in fragrant leis. Many of these beautiful creations featured exquisite native Hawaiian plants and flowers, and each one was made with lots of aloha. Congratulations to all the winners!

Shown below are some of the beautiful leis that were on display.

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E Pili Kākou — Preparation for Opening Ceremony

The lead-up to  Pili Kākou, which ran from 15-18 February, took quite a bit of coordination, time, and effort in rehearsals and costume preparation. Here are some snapshots from the process!

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February 15-18, 2018 — E Pili Kākou

These four days were a special time for the hālau, as they had the rare opportunity to attend workshops right on Kaua’i with world-renowned master Lehua Kawaikapuokalani Hewett. It was a great privilege, especially since Kumu Lei herself studied with Lehua Kawaikapuokalani for many years and underwent two ʻūniki with him. For all of our hālau sisters who attended the sessions, in particular those who had not previously had the chance to meet or learn hula from Lehua Kawaikapuokalani, it was a deeply enriching experience.

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Lehua Kawaikapuokalani’s website is accessible at www.loeahula.com

March 3, 2018 — Mayor’s Prayer Luncheon

On March 3, the Kilohana Luau Pavilion and its surroundings were crowded from 9am to 12.30pm by more than 1,000 people, who came to attend Kaua’i’s 14th annual Mayor’s Prayer Luncheon. Among them were representatives from the government, military, judiciary and law enforcement, and the business and educational spheres, as well as church ministries and families. Hailing not just from churches all across the island, but also various other faiths and religions, they gathered in answer to the call for unity in praying for their leadership and their home.

The event, which is organised by Kaua’i Island Ministries, saw participants praying for the government, the judiciary, the military, law enforcement, businesses, churches, families, marriages, and fathers. Keynote speaker Pastor Joe Onosai of Destiny Christian Church Hawai’i spoke about Leaving A Legacy, and urged all attendees to value the unique and special unity that the annual Luncheon has nurtured among Kaua’i’s residents. Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr., who was presiding over the event for the final time (he has been termed out of office and is now in the running for the position of lieutenant governor), talked about the importance of faith, hope, and love in his farewell address.

As always, hula was a big part of the event, offered as a gift to and a blessing over the various delegates. Kumu Lei choreographed and directed the hula as she has in previous years, working with dancers from various schools in order to promote and encourage unified support for the Luncheon and all that it represents.

The event wound down and closed on a more casual, festive note over a delightful buffet lunch, during which many of the event’s participants visited and were reunited with friends.

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December 6 – 11th International Symposium on Atomic Level Characterization

In 1996, backed by the 141st Committee on Microbeam Analysis of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), an annual series of high-level international symposia titled “Atomic Level Characterization (ALC)” was launched in Kyoto, Japan. The  series spotlights practical applications of atomic level characterization of new materials and devices, including bio-, organic, and inorganics materials.  It also covers new applications and instrumentation for various analytical techniques of surface and interface analysis, and encourages networking and collaboration among peers in the field.

The event’s 11th edition was held from December 3-8 at the Aqua Kaua’i Beach Resort. It saw about 200 scientists, hailing mainly from Japan and the US Mainland, gathering to discuss fundamental problems associated with the further development of atomic level characterization of materials, and possible solutions to these problems.

Our hālau was honored to present an evening of Hawaiian music and hula during their banquet on December 6; we were accompanied by Kawika “Butter” Defries, Waipuʻilani Flores and Kaui Kitamura, an awesome threesome of musicians and singers.

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All photos in this post/slideshow gallery are credited to Leimakamae Dill.

November 9, 2017 – Na Wahine Alakaʻi o Kauaʻi

Na Wahine Alakaʻi o Kauaʻi, or the Women’s Leadership Award of Kaua’i, is an annual event at which three successful and accomplished women are honored for their contributions to Kaua’i and the local community. It is organized and sponsored by the YWCA of Kaua’i.

This year’s Awards were presented to three very deserving ladies: Sabra Kauka, Jen Chahanovich, and Marynel Valenzuela.

Hālau Ka Lei Kukui Hi’ilani was honored to present the Hawaiian entertainment for the evening’s festivities. We were especially proud of Sabra Kauka who is a respected cultural practitioner known throughout Hawaii for her cultural contributions. Says Kumu Lei: “I work closely with her, love her, and was happy to be a part of this special honor that has been given to her.”

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September 24, 2017 — Hōkūle’a Arrival

On September 24, Hōkūle’a, the famous full-scale replica of a traditional waʻa kaulua or Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe, arrived in Hanalei, Kaua’i, on its visitation circuit around the Hawaiian islands after completing its three-and-a-half-year journey around the world in June.

It was fitting that our hālau was on hand to receive this worthy vessel at our shores with ceremonial protocol, which was a very moving experience. We were very proud and honoured to have had the opportunity to play this role.

Crowds lined the pier to watch Hōkūle’a come in, and many were chanting, blowing pu, and making other celebratory sounds as the boat approached. Once the crew had all gotten on deck, we began our ceremonial oli and hula to welcome them and express our appreciation for all that they had accomplished on their voyage. Their travels on board Hōkūle’a had taken them across about 40,000 nautical miles (74,000 kilometres), during which they called at 18 nations, 150 ports, and eight UNESCO Marine World Heritage sites. It was a truly epic quest on which they had made every effort to spread aloha and encourage people around the world to malama honua.

After all the various presentations of makana, hoʻokupu, oli, mele, hula and speeches had been completed, we celebrated and ate meaʻai prepared by master cooks from moku Haleleʻa. It was a joyous, proud, and wonderful event, and it brought the community together to celebrate an amazing accomplishment.

Our hālau was overjoyed and honoured to have been asked to be a presenter that day.

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Lau hala workshops with Kumu Keoua Nelson

Over two days of workshops, one in June and one in August, our hālau learned how to handle lau hala (screwpine or pandanus leaf) and weave our own pale (protective mat/pad) for use with our ipu heke. The workshops were taught by Kumu Bill Keoua Nelson, of iHala.com, who hails from the Big Island of Hawai’i.

Kumu Keoua comes from a long lineage of weavers, six generations all told, and he takes his craft very seriously. He began the sessions by sharing the moʻo kūʻauhau (scientific genealogy; the species used for weaving in Hawai’i is usually the Pandanus tectorius) of the pū hala (Pandanus tree) and some significant mo’olelo (historical records/tales, traditions, stories) that pertain to it and its uses. He then taught an oli from his ohana about lau hala, and shared the chronology of his family’s traditions with lau hala.

It was only after an understanding of and an appreciation for lau hala had been imparted that Kumu Keoua started us off on practical aspects of the workshop. We learnt how to gather, clean and strip the lau hala, and then he showed us how to weave.

Day 1 of the workshop was hosted by Alika Parker. We enjoyed beautiful views of Mauna Makaleha and Mauna Kalalea while we learnt and worked. Day 2 was hosted by Angela in Kilauea. On one of the workshop days, Kumu Lei wore a pāpale woven from lau hala which had been a gift from her aunty. The hat had been purchased 30 years ago. When Kumu Keoua examined the pāpale, he found evidence of a particular weave which was a trademark of his grandmother, Aunty Lillian Alepoki Grace Nelson; he was certain that she had made it. Kumu Lei was thrilled to have found this connection with Kumu Keoua and his heritage.

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June 17, 2017 — Hōkūle’a Homecoming

The Wahine Maile Papa Hula came together and made a 1,000-foot-long lei lau kī to join with Ron Panzo’s inclusive project and together make a mile-long lei for Hōkūle’a‘s homecoming on Saturday, June 17, 2017. Mahalo ‘Anakē Cyrila and Angela Pycha for spearheading and leading us as we contributed to this Lei of Aloha effort.

Hōkūle’a is a full-scale replica of a traditional waʻa kaulua or Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe. Built in the 1970s, this boat is the culmination of many years of work to resurrect and preserve the traditional sailing and navigation techniques that brought the first settlers to the Hawaiian islands long ago. This epic three-year voyage saw Hōkūle’a traverse about 40,000 nautical miles (74,000 kilometres), 18 nations, 150 ports, and eight UNESCO Marine World Heritage sites on a quest to propagate the massage of Mālama Honua (caring for Island Earth). Click here to read more on her triumphant homecoming.

We join all of Hawai’i in the pride we feel for such an amazing accomplishment by the Hōkūle’a crew. Their commitment, dedication, integrity, and all the sweat, tears, and work they put in over these past four years is a testimony of God’s amazing goodness to us. He provides, He protects, He blesses. Mahalo ke Akua.

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May 1, 2017 — Lei Day

Said to have first been officially celebrated in 1929, Lei Day is a highly-anticipated Hawaiian festival that attracts both local and international attention, especially since the giving of leis has grown to be a popular token worldwide. Displays, sales and craft lessons proliferate throughout the islands, filling the air with myriad fragrances even as gorgeous blooms and foliage draw the eye.

On Kaua’i, smaller Lei Day observations and activities are aplenty, though the main event at the Kaua’i Marriot in Lihue pulls in the largest crowds with its annual Lei Day Competition. Kumu Lei was on the panel of judges at this 37th edition of the contest.

Shown below are some of the beautiful leis that were on display and had been entered in the competition, captured on camera by Alaka’i Namiko.

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April 23, 2017 — North Shore Lions Club Pancakes and Hula Fundraiser

Once again held at Hanalei Elementary School cafeteria, the annual North Shore Lions Club Pancake Breakfast attracted a huge crowd, which came not only to support the event — the proceeds are channelled into scholarships, vision and hearing projects, and other educational and service projects — but also to soak in and share the aloha in the various hula presented.

Led by Alaka’i Wailana in Kumu Lei’s overseas absence, the hālau presented Aloha Kaua’i, Hanalei Moon, Nāwiliwili, Ka Pilina, E Pili Mai, and Nani Kaua’i. It was a successful event and everyone had a splendid time.

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Three of the images are reproduced from this report by The Garden Island; they were taken by Dennis Fujimoto and are being used with permission.

March 31-April 5, 2017 — Hula in Japan

Kumu Lei was in Ginza, Yokohama and Fugisawa, Japan, from March 31 to April 5. She was hosted by one of her international students, Koike Akemi, who is a hula sensei (teacher) at three different studios. Kumu Lei gave Akemi private lessons and also held workshops for her students. It was a very full and fulfilling time for all who were involved.

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March 4, 2017 — Mayor’s Prayer Luncheon

The 13th edition of the annual Mayor’s Prayer Luncheon, held on March 4 at the Kilohana Luau Pavilion, was attended by over 1,000 representatives from the government, military, judiciary and law enforcement, and the business and educational spheres, as well as church ministries and families. Hosted by Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. and his wife, they gathered to pray for the leaders of our land and also to mingle and share in a time of celebration.

This year’s guest speaker, Jim Burns — President of HomeWord, and Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University — had a message specifically directed at fathers. His main scripture focus for the day was “And He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6a, ASV).

As in previous years, Kumu Lei choreographed and directed the hula for this event, which brought 40 dancers together in a beautiful offering and presentation of hula. She trains leaders to dance and encourage the many who  attend this yearly event.

After the formal presentation, a buffet lunch was served. The day was also spent in fun and festivity as many of the event’s participants visited and were reunited with friends.

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