May Day is Lei Day | Event raises money to send halau members to competition
Halau Kalaakeakauikawekiu shared the grace and beauty of hula Wednesday night whilst raising funds to be the lone halau representing Kona at the 38th annual Queen Liliuokalani Keiki Hula Competition.
Halau Kalaakeakauikawekiu has represented the Kona community at the annual Oahu competition since 2006, said Kumu Hula Kenneth “Aloha” Victor, who instructs the group. Between 1997 and 2006, he said, no halau from the area took part in the hula competition, which this year will run July 18 to 20.
Taking some 25 boys and girls ranging in age from 9 to 12, adult helpers, chaperones and musicians to the competition is pricey, not to mention the cost for other transportation, costumes, adornments and expenses, said Victor.
He estimates the halau will need to raise between $20,000 and $28,000 to make it happen.
“It’s a lot of money,” Victor said, “but, it is so worth it in the end.”
With more than 500 tickets sold — each for a $25 donation — the halau’s first-ever “May Day is Lei Day” appeared to be a success. The event also helped raise funds for the halau to take some 20 members on a cultural exchange trip this summer to Hiroshima, Japan, said Victor.
Scores of people crowded the well-decorated Makaeo Events Pavilion at Old Kona Airport Park, cheering on the dancers of all ages while enjoying a tasty Hawaiian-style meal.
Two couples and longtime visitors to the Big Island — Joyce and Paul Highsmith and Jack and Carol Cranmer — were the first in line for the event when the doors opened to the public. The couples said the event will help to perpetuate the traditions of hula.
“It’s just beautiful,” said Joyce, who noted she and Paul follow hula year-round and also watch the annual Merrie Monarch competition from their Washington state home.
The halau opted this year to hold a traditional May Day event rather than its annual Mother’s Day event, “Mama … my Mama, I Love You, a Mother’s Day Celebration of Hawaiian Chant, Dance and Music,” Victor said. He explained that the traditional May Day, set aside to celebrate island and Hawaiian culture, seems to be falling by the wayside at schools in favor of events such as “Spring Fest” or a hoolaulea.
“May Day is being lost, there’s so much changing,” he said. “If we can’t perpetuate this tradition it won’t happen.”
Halau Kalaakeakauikawekiu is a culture-based organization with a mission to heighten Hawaiian culture awareness and participation through educational programs and annual performances.
The halau works to maintain and perpetuate the beliefs, teachings, philosophies, practices and traditions of Hawaiian culture through hula. It comprises members ranging in age from 5 to 88 years old.
While focused on Hawaiian culture, Victor said the halau is open to people of all backgrounds.
“Hula teaches discipline and respect. It gives the children another opportunity to learn about culture outside of family and school,” he said. “It’s not about being Hawaiian — it’s about being in Hawaii.”
Halau Kalaakeakauikawekiu will host an open registration event from 9 a.m. to noon on June 1 and 8 at 74-5598 Luhia St., Suite 101. An informational meeting will be held at noon June 8. Tuition is required.
For more information or to contribute, visit halau-k.com or email Victor at email@example.com.