Remembering Kumu Raylene Ha’alelea Kawaiae‘a

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Colleen Pasco

Kumu Raylene Kawaiaea tells stories to the crowd at the Volcano Art Center in May 1997

CJ Yamamoto, Reporter

Kumu Raylene Ha’alelea Kawaiae‘a was a revered kumu hula and Hawaiian cultural consultant. She was also a wonderful daughter, mom, sister,  and a great Tutu living in North Kohala.

Kohala High School students shared their memories and thoughts of their Kumu. Junior Amber Souza stated, “The thing I remember about Kumu was the patience she had with her haumana.” Amber’s favorite song that she learned was OpuPuhi. Junior Kawai Moss recounted,”I remember all the dreams and stories on the drive home from hula practice in Kailua-Kona with her hula sisters in Kumu’s truck.” Junior Leesha Villacorte stated, “I remember Kumu for her humble attitude when she would teach me hula. My favorite hula was I oe Ekala.” Junior Jayvimar Arellano shared that his first day of hula class; he could feel the power of Kumu through her chants. Sophomore Mohala Kaholoa’a shared that Kumu’s sweetness made her feel so loved.  Whenever she needed someone to talk to she always had Kumu to turn to like her own mother.

Senior Daryl Diaz stated, “Kumu was everything I aim to be, not only as a teacher, but also as a person. She was genuine, wise, kind, patient, loving, accepting, and understanding. What is aloha? Kumu presented, lived, and was aloha. If I had not joined hula and met this wonderful lady, I probably would be a teen who would get into trouble, and not care about school. Not care about me. She taught me to make the right choices and to be pono towards everyone. I hope one day I’ll be able to be a positive light for others just as she was for many people. So amazing in so many ways. Kumu will forever be my hero.”

Senior CJ Yamamoto shared his wonderful memories of Kumu. “Kumu Raylene Ha’alelea Kawaiae‘a was compassionate in whatever she did. Kumu always taught me that when I perform or do anything in life that I should always do it with aloha or don’t do it at all. Kumu was a special lady and it takes more then a few pages to explain her love for the children and her gift of hula. I can remember Kumu and my grandfather always talking story of the good old days.  They both shared their mana‘o with each other and how it made them who they are today. The song that I will always remember from Kumu was A Ko’o Lau Au. We danced that song with our middle school halau and took first place at the King Kamehameha schools competition in 2007. I will always remember Kumu’s beautiful smile, how she never got mad, and how she would always help out anyone.

Former student of Kohala High and an olapa with Kumu’s halau, Kara Pasco also shared her memories of Kumu.  “I can remember the first time I went to hula class; Kumu embraced me with such a big smile and hug that it made me feel welcomed. The one chant that I will never forget that Kumu taught me was Aloha Hawaii which talks about the admiration of Hawaii and the love of the people. It also explains from land to the ocean, as well as the sky.”

Kumu, you will always be that angel watching over each and every one of us. Love always, your haumana at Kohala High School.