Hokani Maria ; Master Hula O Na Keiki


Destiny Souze, Reporter

Hokani Maria, a sophomore at Kohala High with a passion for Hula recently competed in the Hula O Na Keiki competition and I caught up with him to discuss the whole event.

What is Hula O Nā Keiki?

“The Hula O Nā Keiki is a children’s solo hula competition, at the Kāʻanapali Beach Hotel. This is an entire weekend of Hawaiian arts and music. The objective is to educate the children in the ways of our ancestors so that the culture can be carried forward through generations of kids. Children from ages 5 years old to 17 years old are the ages to be able to compete. Each contestant (including myself) had to go through a nerve-wracking interview in front of a panel of judges before the competition. The contestants are also required to memorize a chant in the native Hawaiian language. Later that evening they will perform their kahiko (traditional) hula.

The next night is their last chance to prove to the judges, and themselves that their hālau (hula school) and especially their kumu (teacher) that they have mastered the hula. This night is the ‘auana (modern) hula. Unless of course, they are also entered in the Pālua (couple) Division when we get see them dance one more time.
The categories are: Keiki Kane, Keiki Wahine, ‘Opio Kane and ‘Opio Wahine also the Hula Palua.”

What category did you compete in?

“The categories that I competed in were: ‘Opio Kane and Hula Palua”

What did you perform?

For my Kahiko (traditional performance) I performed ‘O Kahekilinui written by aunty Hokulani Holt Padilla. The Kahiko mele talks about how the chief Kahekilunuiahumanu who once was the ruler of Maui and treads of the land of Maui creating the thundering sound (also his name given to him after the God Kane-hekili or the God of thunder) and how the elements work with and around him. My auana mele (modern day hula) was No Kohala Kamakani Apa’pa’a written by Kohala’s very own Aunty Sarah Pule and made popular by The Lim Family. All four contestants from our Halau did mele about Kohala. My mele talks about how proud the people are and that they show their love for the land they come from and the groves of hala trees. Then for me and Brianna Wehi Lim entered the Hula Palua and performed a Hapa Haole mele entitled Tropical Swing and Swingtime in Honolulu. This was the era where swing was the new in thing in Hawaii. Doing all these mele, I felt proud to represent my hometown Kohala.

What were your achievements?

The achievements I won was the 1,000 dollar Akoni Akana Scholarship, 1st Place Palua Costume and Adornment with 100 dollars cash, 1st Place ‘Opio ‘Auana with 50 dollars cash, 1st Place Palua Award with 100 dollars cash , 1st Place Opio Kane ‘Oli Award with 15,000 Hawaiian Miles and an Ipu Heke, My song No Kohala Kamakani Apa’pa’a won the Overall Music Award, I also won Overall Kane Hula O Na Keiki winning the title as Master Hula O Na Keiki along with 300 dollars cash, a Pahu drum achievements along with 3 Plaques entitled with The Opio Auana and Costume Award, The Opio Kane Oli Award and Palua Costume and adornments. I am very humbled and very happy to have won these accomplishments not only for me as a dancer but also as an achievement for my Halau and the greatest achievement of making my Kumu Lorna Kapualiko Lim proud.

Is there a message you want to give to young hula dancers who are starting out?

My advice for young hula dancers is that enjoy every moment dancing. It is through the dancer and the ho’opa that the mele can come to life. So strive for your dreams and work hard. But always live with and by the standards of Aloha. Of having kindness, togetherness, pleasant, humble and humility, and the utmost of patience. So strive for the highest! Kulia I ka nu’u!