The Hula People of Hālau Hula O Maiki Arise


Read this article in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

Hello friends of this newspaper column. In the 1990s, three directories were printed by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs: Kū Mai Ka Poʻe Hula (1993), Ola Nā Iwi (1995), and Nā Lima Mikioi (1997). At this time, all three are published on

Kū Mai Ka Poʻe Hula (1993). In the 1990s, Kumu Hula Manu Boyd, an employee of OHA at the time, collected the names of hula people for the directory. This directory, however, was not just for hula educators. The names of hula competitions and exhibitions as well as those who were associated with hula such as drum carvers and other musical instruments such as feather gourd rattles, split-bamboo rattles, bamboo stamping pipes, double gourd drums, etc., were included.

Coline Kaualoku Aiu is one of the hula masters in Kū Mai ka Poʻe Hula I along with classmates Ulalia Berman, Uluwehi Cazimero, Mae Klein, and Kahaʻi Topolinski. Coline reminded me that the August 27, 2023, will be the 50th anniversary of the graduation of her cohort of the Papa Lehua of Hālau Hula O Maiki.

This ceremonial graduation was significant because those who graduated would become leaders of the Hawaiian cultural renaissance. At the time, few people were teaching traditional hula. In addition, the Papa Lehua was the first that Maiki Aiu graduated under ʻailolo, the formal and honorable rite of passage of our hula ancestors.

In 1973, Maiki had completed 25 years of teaching and was contemplating retirement. However, she was encouraged to persist. Lōkālia Montgomery, the one who graduated her as kumu hula in 1948, along with Kawena Pukuʻi, Alice Nāmakelua, Vicky ʻIʻī Rodrigues, Kaʻupena Wong, and others were the ones who encouraged her to continue and were the expert adjudicators at the first ʻūniki in 1972 at Heʻeia. Manuel Silva was the advising elder in 1973 for another graduation of Papa Lehua.

Thereafter, Maiki continued by graduating more kumu hula in the Papa ʻIlima (1975), Papa Kukui (1979), and Papa Lauaʻe (1979). Māpuana de Silva and Vicky Takamine graduated with the Papa ʻIlima and are also in Kū Mai Ka Poʻe Hula. All these kumu hula have taken up the traditions and knowledge that Maiki learned from her hula forebearers.

Photo: Coline Aiu

Coline Aiu stated in Hula is Life (by Rita Ariyoshi), that the Papa Lehua were the hula children of her mother. Therefore, those who were graduated by the kumu hula of the Papa Lehua and are in Kū Mai ka Poʻe Hula, like the aforementioned Manu Boyd along with Brad Cooper (by Uluwehi Cazimero), and myself (by Kahaʻi Topolinski), are hula grandchildren of Maiki.

Patrick Choy, Kamaka Kukona, Pili Pang, and Pōhai Souza (by Mae Klein), and Holoua Stender (by Keliʻi Tauʻā), are also hula grandchildren of Maiki listed in the directory. Because Maiki persevered and continued to teach hula, she now has generations of descendants.

This is the 75th anniversary of Hālau Hula O Maiki. Therefore, Coline is searching for the hula great-grandchildren of Maiki. She hopes to publish Hula is Life II and to issue an updated hula genealogy as her mother did in the 1980s. Therefore, if you are a hula descendant of Maiki and graduated as a kumu hula by a graduate of Maiki Aiu, email and I will send you an application for Kū Mai ka Poʻe Hula II. Also, this would greatly help Coline Aiu effort to compile this genealogy for Hula is Life II.

Maiki coined the famous saying, “Hula is life.” She had a beautiful life and would be truly happy to see her descendants thriving and living in hula. The hula lives! May Hālau Hula o Maiki live on on this anniversary of 75 years of hula.