To deepen our understanding of Hawaii’s rich culture, we regularly participate in workshops, ranging from lei making to the making and use of natural dyes. We invite masters of their trades to teach us and share their knowledge with us. If you are interested in joining us or finding out what’s coming up, please contact Kumu Lei for a list of requirements and ingredients and to register.
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.
LOMI LOMI KAOMI WITH THE PAPA WAHINE
In January 2016, well-known Hawaiian lomilomi healer Akoni Apana presented a workshop on lomi lomi kaomi, a healing form of lomilomi he had developed for pain management and to effect peak performance in the activities that one undertakes in life. The papa wahine kukui and the papa wahine maile attended the workshop, where they learned interesting facts about this very deep process and even had the opportunity to have a taste of this healing art form.
Aunty Pua Kaholokula and Uncle Robbie Kaholokula, who are admirers and followers of Apana’s work, joined us for the workshop, which was a special treat for us – we closed the session with the ladies dancing Hanalei Moon as choreographed by Aunty Pua, accompanied by Uncle Robbie’s singing. Later, while we relaxed over a generous amount of really ono food, Uncle Robbie also shared about what he had been going through over the past 10 years, and how the healing art of lomi lomi kaomi has helped him to get through this hard, painful time more easily.
Sadly, Uncle Robbie passed away in February. He is greatly missed by Kumu Lei, as someone who had been a great influence in her hula life.
MAKING LEI LA’I (KEIKI CLASS) AND LEI KIPU’U KUKUI
Making one’s own adornments is an important aspect of being a hula dancer. And it’s not just about making things that look pretty — it’s about developing various skills and attitudes, as well as spending time with the hula ohana. In 2015, two lei-making workshops in October stood out: a lei la’i class for the keiki, in which the little ones learned how to use their wāwae (feet and toes) to aid them in braiding ti leaves together, and a lei kipu’u kukui class for the ladies, in which a fascinating method (kipu’u) of joining kukui leaves together was taught.
MAKING LEI HULU
Making one’s own adornments often takes a lot of skill, patience, discipline and perseverance, especially with items as intricate as a lei hulu.
For this workshop that happened somewhere between late summer and early fall 2013, we got together at Kumu Lei’s home to really settle down to the task. We washed, cut, primped and organised thousands of feathers, and then sat down to wili. It takes a lot of work and takes a lot of time, but the end products — our very own handmade lei po’o hulu — are nani loa.
We really appreciated this time we had to work together, talk and laugh… and we ended the workshop with Kumu Lei making dinner for everyone present. It was a great day all round.
Making one’s own inplements is an important thing in the study of hula, and when knowledge and experience gained from earlier workshops can be combined in the making of another item, it’s an exciting and eye-opening activity indeed!
In a recent practical workshop, the intermediate papa hula completed a lengthy but very rewarding process – making their own ‘uli’uli. After gathering, picking and preparing various native Hawaiian plants to make the necessary dyes, the ladies stamped their kapa with ohe kapala and made their ’uli’uli with hackle feathers and la’amea gourds filled with ali’i poe, finishing them with rattan wraps.
Each set of ’uli’uli certainly took many hours to make, and every step was done together as a class… so our time together was filled with talk story, laughing, eating, dancing, eating some more, but no gossip – for real!
The finished product is something that each of us is proud of. We are looking forward to dancing with our new hula implements.
The Kapaa papa hula keiki learned how to make what would be their first personal hula implement – an ipu.
We met at Kapaa Beach, where this special outdoor class began with pikai (cleansing) in the ocean. We started off with a time of pule (prayer), asking Ke Akua to bless our time, then the keiki began cleaning their ipu with one (sand) and kai (ocean water).
After the ipu were cleaned, we headed uka to Kumu Lei’s house, where with some help from their parents the keiki cut the tops off from their ipu and began cleaning the insides of their gourds. We did some fine sanding to smoothen out the cuts before inserting the kaula (rope) into the little puka drilled in the sides of the ipu. The final touch – we rubbed the implements with kukui oil.
It was a job well done. After pau hana, we gratefully sat down together to enjoy some ono mea ‘ai the parents brought to share. It was a wonderful time for everyone. Mahalo Ke Akua!
WAI HO’OLU’U – natural dyes from plants
We gathered native hawaiian plants like olena, alae’a, noni, kukui, and other plants like achiote and ink berry. Then we invited Kumu Sabra Kauka (a kapa-making expert on Kaua’i) and made the dyes. We then stamped our kapa with ohe kapala (bamboo stamps).
Please stay tuned for updates on our latest workshops.