The 5th Ka ‘Aha Hula O Hālauloa returned full circle to Hilo June 14-23 as more than 1,000 hula dancers, kumu and cultural experts practitioners gathered for a special 10-day conference.

The world hula conference provided participants with in-depth learning opportunities through mo‘olelo, wahi pana and ‘ike found in mele and oli, as well as through keynote speakers such as Dr. Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele. One evening paid tribute to the late and much beloved Kumu Hula Leinā‘ala Kalama Heine. A full day was dedicated to huaka‘i, such as the learning journey led by Kumu Hula Lorna Kapualiko Lim to places in Kohala described in mele and oli dedicated to Kamehameha Pai‘ea.

Founded on the mo‘olelo of Pele and Hi‘iaka in 2001, the ‘aha hula was held on a different island every four years, tracing Hi‘iaka’s journey across the pae ‘āina to Kaua‘i and back to Hawai‘i Island. At this conference, an ongoing lava flow nearby in Kīluaea’s East Rift Zone kept Pele top of mind, as did a panel presentation, mele workshop and talk story. A chant during the opening ceremony described an eruption in Keahialaka, the place name of the area that includes the Leilani Estates subdivision where the first fissures opened in May.

Photos and video from performances, presentations and huaka‘i are available on the OHA Facebook page (www.facebook.com/officeofhawaiianaffairs). Mahalo to the Lālākea Foundation for hosting Ka ‘Aha Hula ‘ō Hālauaola and sharing with students from Hawai‘i and around the world our rich hula traditions. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs proudly supported this ‘ike rich cultural event through an ‘Ahahui Grant.