A historic day for the hālau as the mainland extension and the Asian extension meet up for a day of inspiring hula workshops by Lehua Kawaikapuolani Hewett. The hālau has 2 extensions outside of Kaua’i, one in San Diego and one in Singapore. Lehua is a renowned composer as well as a practitioner of Hawaiian arts and culture.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!