Kaua'i, Hawaii

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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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February 22, 2017 — Ho’onani Hula Celebration: A Lei of Kaua’i Stars

On the evening of February 22, the Courtyard Kaua’i by Marriot on Coconut Beach was the scene of much festivity. Kicking off at 5pm and captivating participants and audience alike until past 9pm, the Ho’onani Hula Celebration, subtitled A Lei Of Kaua’i Stars, featured a cast of some of Kaua’i’s brightest stars as well as nine kumu hula.

The event’s spotlight was on Japan, and under the direction of Mapuana Kazama, 74 dancers from Hui O Mapuana’s Hula Nani in Japan graced the stage; also there to share their gifts with everyone present was the Ukulele Paradise group from Japan, led by Toshiro Harasawa.

Our hālau presented Hanalei Moon, danced by Takako, Akiko, Yumiko, and Kyoko, who all thoroughly enjoyed sharing a hula about the place where they live and that they call home. Kumu Lei also presented a hula, I’ll Weave A Lei Of Stars, in honour of all the hula and music stars who made time to play a part in the celebrations.

The inaugural Kaua’i Hula Girl Japan Competition, a contest featuring solo dancers from Japan, was also part of the evening’s itinerary. Kumu Lei, Aunt Beverly Muraoka, and Kumu Hula Maka Herrod were the judges.

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