essays from our mm factsheet archives
E HOI KE ALOHA I Niihau
Hula Kahiko 2022
Tom Hiona makes the outlandish claim in his Ethnic Folkways recording of “Hoi Kealoha i Niihau” that the mele “tells the story of the high priest Paoa, who led his people to the island of Niihau in search of the sacred hidden waters and finally found the secret by following the flight of the kolea or red-breasted plover birds.” His liner-note explanation confuses the priest Pāʻao with both the fish pāoʻo and the Lehua Island place-name Waihunaakapāoʻo, a rocky spring inhabited by those fish, and he goes on to misidentify tuxedo-dressed kōlea as red-breasted. I can only conclude that Hiona’s misinformation is so off-base as to be deliberate – an inside joke, perhaps, on his Folkway ethnographers and their gullible audience.
Hula ʻAuana 2022
I composed the words of this mele in September 1988, after a visit with Aunty Sally Wood Naluai at her home in Kahalu‘u, O‘ahu, where Māpuana and Aunty Lani “Nana” Kalama (Sally’s hula sister with Maiki when they studied under Lokalia in the 1940s) spent the morning reviewing “Eia mai Au ‘o Makalapua” at Aunty Sally’s feet.
Māpu learned “Makalapua” from Aunty Sally in 1985-86, after Aunty Nana explained to us that Sally had learned this hula kuolo from Mary Kawena Pukui and that, over the years, it had become one of the hula with which Sally was most closely associated. “I want you to learn it,” Aunty Nana had said, “from the person who probably knows it best.”
ka Lae o alala
Hula ʻAuana (Kaʻi / Hoʻi) 2022
To put it briefly: Kualoa, Mokukapu, and Mokumanu are there on the north. Popoiʻa rests directly offshore. And Mokulua, Kaiʻōlena, Kaʻiwa, and Wailea reach to the south. These are wahi pana on the Koʻolau shoreline that can be named, in sequence, from the vantage point of Ka Lae ʻo Alāla. When named, that is, by one who still knows and clings to these names, by one who is an ʻilima noho papa, an ʻōiwi of Kailua whose family has made the decision, generation after generation, to name them, to know them, and – above all – to stay put. Kapalaiʻula de Silva’s mele is a net of inoa ʻāina that helps to order our world and hold it in place. Alāla, for reasons simple and profound . . .
KE AKUA UWALO
Hula Kahiko (Kaʻi) 2018
Māpuana learned “Ke Akua Uwalo i ka Laʻi” from Pat Namaka Bacon (Aunty Maka) in June 1986, as a hula kaʻi for “Poliʻahu,” the Pukui-composed hula pahu that Aunty Maka taught at that same ’86 Kalōpā workshop. We know that “Ke Akua Uwalo” belongs to the tradition of Keahi Luahine who taught it to Kawena Pukui and Aunty Maka as the kaʻi for both “Kalani Manomano” and “Hāmākua Au” – two of the three hula pahu in the Keahi Luahine tradition. We know, too, that “Ke Akua Uwalo” was used as the kaʻi by Pukui for her debut performance of “Poliʻahu” on December 19, 1985, and that it has become part of the “Poliʻahu” performance tradition as it continues to be practiced today by the kumu hula who were present at Kalōpā: by Māpuana, Vicky Holt Takamine, and Kahaʻi Topolinski.
Hula Kahiko 2018
Māpuana learned “Poliʻahu” from Aunty Pat Namaka Bacon on June 21, 1986, at Keahi Allen’s SCHH workshop at Kalōpā, Hawaiʻi. Aunty Maka explained that her mother Mary Kawena Pukui composed it for Maka’s sister Pele Suganuma to dance in the mid-1950s, partly as a response to the inappropriate use of the ʻūlili step by Lokalia Montgomery in “ʻŪlei Pahu i ka Moku.” That hula pahu was one of three that Keahi Luahine had taught to Kawena and Maka (along with “Kalani Manomano” and “Hāmākua Au”), and Keahi had then assigned the keeping of these three hula pahu specifically to the mother and daughter team. They subsequently taught “ʻŪlei Pahu” to Lokalia who had difficulty learning its complicated foot pattern – the five hela (in five beats) and one kiʻi (in three beats) . . .
Hula ʻAuana 2019
“O kekahi mau mea e hoomanao ia e pono ai e poina ole ia e ka noonoo o ke kanaka e ola ana i keia la ame kela mau la aku la mai ka 1870 mai, no keia kowa o 53 makahiki a oi, oia no ka noho ana o na ohana ma keia mau apana o Kekaha mai na Honokohau, Kaloko, Kohana-iki, na Ooma, Kalaoa, Haleohiu, Makaula, Kau, Puukala-ohiki, Awalua, na Kaulana, Mahailua [sic.], Makala-wena, Awakee, na Kukio, Kaupulehu, Kiholo, Keawawaiki, Kapalaoa, Puuanahulu, ame Puuwaawaa.
He mau aina piha kanaka keia ia mau la, na kane, wahine a me na keiki piha na hale me na ohana nui a lau-kanaka maoli no. Holoholo pu au me na keiki kane a me na kaikamahine oia mau la a noho pu a hele pu no a ai pu no hoi me lakou a moe pu ma ko lakou mau . . .”
and more FROM OUR MISS ALOHA HULA FILES
HANOHANO ʻO MAUI
Hula ʻAuana (Kaʻi / Hoʻi) 2011
Kahikina de Silva composed this mele in August 1995 for the 12-year-olds of Hālau Mōhala ‘Ilima who – after a year of studying Maui hula at home on O‘ahu – had just returned from three days of ‘ike-maka experiences on Maui itself. The travel sequence of Kahikina’s song follows the itinerary of a work-shop that we have been conducting, now, for almost twenty years. On day one, we visit ʻĪao Valley, discuss the legacies of Kāka‘e and the battle of Ka‘ua‘upali, swim in the tingling waters of Kepaniwai, sing “Nā Ali‘i Puolani,” and dance “Maui o Kama,” and “Hano-hano Waiehu.” On day two, we stop at what was once Pua Mana, think . . .
NANI WALE KEʻANAE
Hula ʻAuana 2011
One of the most compelling images in Hawaiian poetry is that of the pōhaku kū, the anchor stones used by fishermen and kapa-makers to keep their net-bottoms from furling in the tide and their set-out-to-dry bark cloth from flying away in the wind. Chants like “‘Au‘a ‘Ia” and “Hulihia ke Au” warn us of the danger of neglecting these stones; if we allow them to come loose or roll free, then the fabric of our identity will be lost to the currents of time and change.
For all their apparent warmth and inclusivity, the best-known Maui compositions of Alice Johnson are . . .