News Briefs | March 2020


Merrie Monarch Festival 2020 Cancelled

Safety and Health of Hālau, ʻOhana and Community are Top Priority

In light of safety and health concerns and after serious consideration, the organizers and sponsors of the 2020 Merrie Monarch Festival announced today that the event will not be held.

“This was such a hard decision to make,” said Merrie Monarch Festivals President Luana Kawelu, “but we could not risk the health and wellbeing of our community, hālau participants, vendors and the thousands of people who attend Merrie Monarch every year. In the end, we believe that keeping people healthy and safe must be the highest priority, and we all need to take on this kuleana in the face of the threat posed by COVID-19.”

Understanding the need to address hālau and visitor accommodations and transportation, Kawelu added, “please give our airlines and hotels a day or so to sort out details. This is such an undertaking for all of them – their willingness and cooperation to work with us is a saving grace. We will update our own festival information when details become available.”

“We respect the decision to cancel the 57th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival, and we feel it’s the right thing to do to ensure the safety of our residents and visitors, especially with all the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chris Tatum, president & CEO of the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority. “HTA has been a longtime supporter of the Merrie Monarch festival and looks forward to the return of this important cultural event in the future.”

“I am one hundred percent in support of the cancellation of this year’s Merrie Monarch Festival. As a Kumu, I am responsible for the wellbeing of my haumāna, their families, and especially of their kūpuna. I believe that cancelling this year’s festival is necessary for the health of our lāhui and the perpetuation of our culture and its intergenerational values,” said kumu hula Māpuana de Silva of Hālau Mōhala ʻIlima.

“We are so grateful to the County of Hawaiʻi, our kumu, haumāna and every supporter of this festival,” said Kawelu.

All participating kumu hula and judges have been notified of the cancellation.

The Kumulipo sets the foundation for Kauaʻi Ocean Fest

ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi was everywhere at Kukui Grove Center during the 3rd Annual Kauaʻi OceanFest last month. Kauaʻi born musicians and hālau were featured live at center stage while games like KEOLA (aka Bingo) and Hei Manu brought laughter and smiles to participants. Uncle Sol Kahoʻohalahala presented on the interrelationship of all things through the Kumulipo, and Hawaiʻi’s beautiful manu were celebrated with a presentation by feather work artist Mele Kahalepuna-Chun, music, displays and activities. There was a musical holoholo through Hawaiʻi by Kainani Kahaunaele who later presented a workshop on haku mele.
Event partners include Kauaʻi Ocean Discovery, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, the UH Mānoa, OHA, CNHA and Kukui Grove Center. – Photo: Courtesy Malia Nobrega-Olivera

Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Art Contest

The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival invites Hawaiʻi artists of traditional media including oil, acrylic, tempera, watercolor, illustrations, as well as computer graphics and photography to submit original Kona coffee art. The artwork should reflect the Festival’s 50th annual theme “Kona, the Gold Standard of Coffees.” The deadline for art submissions is Monday, March 20, 2020.

Artwork should be delivered to Malia Bolton Hind at the Kona Coffee & Tea Company, or submitted electronically via email to The completed image must be adaptable for use in other media and there should be no typography in the artwork. The winner will be selected by the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Board of Directors based on artistic execution, marketing adaptation, and conformance to the guiding mission. The selected artist will receive $500 and name recognition on all print collateral, including posters, magazines, rack cards and more. All entries must include contact information.

More than 100 items returned to ʻIolani Palace

In January the Friends of ʻIolani Palace welcomed home more than 100 items thanks to a generous donation from the Helen Ladd Thompson Revocable Living Trust.

“Many Palace treasures were lost to time after the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, so we are extremely grateful to receive such well-preserved pieces from an important chapter of Hawaiʻi’s history from the Helen Ladd Thompson family,” said Paula Akana, executive director of The Friends of ʻIolani Palace.

The Thompson family donated 113 objects they inherited from their ancestors, Antone and Emily Rosa. Antone Rosa served both King Kalākaua and Queen Liliʻuokalani in numerous positions, including as Attorney General and as a Privy Council member. All items have been carefully preserved by the family, and include numerous royal orders, military accessories, historical documents and photographs. Also included in the donation is a helmet plate from the Prince’s Own, a volunteer uniformed artillery unit of the Hawaiian Kingdom, which inspired the 2019 palace ornament.

Four-Year Scholarship Program for Native Hawaiians at Chaminade

Chaminade University is now accepting applications from Native Hawaiian students for its Hoʻoulu Scholarship program. Developed in partnership with Kamehameha Schools, the program was designed to grow the number of Native Hawaiians graduating with degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The four-year scholarship is open to first year and transfer applicants seeking degrees in the following areas: Biology; Biochemistry; Chemistry; Data Science, Analytics and Visualization; Environmental Sciences; Environmental Studies; Forensic Sciences; and Nursing.

The scholarship provides full tuition for four years, consideration for a partial housing subsidy for neighbor island or rural students, wraparound academic support services to promote on-time graduation, and participation in Chaminade’s four-year graduation guarantee. It also provides access to post-graduate career paths via Chaminade’s suite of agreements with medical and graduate schools, paid internships for professional development, and financial support for career development activities such as MCAT and GRE preparation. Now in its fifth year, the Hoʻoulu Scholarship gives preference to applicants of Native Hawaiian ancestry to the extent permitted by law. To date, 125 students have received Hoʻoulu scholarships to attend Chaminade. The application submission deadline is March 16, 2020. For an application, visit

CNHA Launches Kahiau Community Assistance Program

The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) has launched its new Kahiau Community Assistance Program (KCAP), a statewide grant to provide emergency financial assistance to low-income Native Hawaiians. Through a one-time emergency financial assistance award of up to $2000, KCAP is intended to provide stability for Native Hawaiians facing hardship due to unexpected crises or emergency situations.

KCAP is made possible through a $1.66 million grant from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and paid partnerships with Hawaiian Community Assets, Solutions Pacific and Homestead Community Development Corporation to reach the Native Hawaiian community statewide.

The program is designed to assist Native Hawaiian beneficiaries whose incomes are at or below 300% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for Hawaiʻi. It will address unexpected life events such as loss of income, loss of employment due to layoff, debilitating illness or injury, etc. KCAP will provide direct financial assistance to qualified individuals and families to stabilize their situation. For more information about KCAP, including funding parameters, eligibility, the online application process and more, please visit

Free Tax Preparation Services

We are in the midst of tax season, and with changing tax laws and complicated forms, filing our taxes is something most of us dread. The good news is that there are free tax preparation services available for kūpuna, for families earning less than $56,000, and for those with disabilities.

Kūpuna (anyone 50+) can access free in-person tax preparation in Hawaiʻi through the AARP Foundation’s “Tax-Aide” program in collaboration with Catholic Charities Hawaiʻi and Goodwill Hawaiʻi from now through April 15th. “Tax-Aide is a valuable free service that helps thousands of people in Hawaiʻi,” said Kealiʻi Lopez, state director of AARP Hawaiʻi. There are 17 sites on Oʻahu and 16 on the neighbor islands. Last year in Hawaiʻi, Tax-Aide volunteers helped nearly 16,000 people file their taxes, and refunds totaled nearly $4.8 million. To find a Tax-Aide site or for more information visit or call toll-free at 1-888-227-7669.

Families earning less than $56,000/year and people with disabilities may qualify for free tax preparation services via VITA, a program offered by the IRS. There are 19 VITA sites on Oʻahu and 15 VITA sites on the neighbor islands. To locate a VITA site near you use the VITA Locator Tool or call toll-free at 1-800-906-9887.

Mana Up in Waikīkī

In collaboration with Mana Up, YWCA Oʻahu and Kamehameha Schoos, the Royal Hawaiian Center is now hosting “House of Mana Up” a special, extended pop-up that will bring local products to the heart of Waikīkī. “We’re extremely proud to spotlight entrepreneurs of Hawaiʻi,” said Monte McComber, Cultural Director for the Center. “With our new House of Mana Up pop-up, shoppers can get one-of-a-kind products and gifts that represent local ingenuity and feature local ingredients in new and original ways.”

The pop-up features dozens of local brands showcasing Hawaiʻi’s diverse cultures and unique sense of place. House of Mana Up will curate a rotation of brands and include an array of products including health and beauty, food and beverage, art and fashion, and specially designed gift sets. “We want shoppers to feel like they walked into a local home, filled with stories and products that capture the experiences they’ve had in Hawai’i,” said Meli James, co-founder of Mana Up. “Mahalo to Royal Hawaiian Center and Kamehameha Schools for investing and supporting local entrepreneurship.”

House of Mana Up opened in late January and is located on the ground level of Building A.

CCH Welcomes New Executive Director

CCH’s Jonee Peters, Les Welsh and new Executive Director Moana Bjur. – Photo: Courtesy

Last month Conservation Council for Hawaiʻi (CCH) announced their selection of Moana Bjur as the organization’s new Executive Director. CCH is Hawaiʻi’s oldest nonprofit wildlife conservation organization and in her new role, Bjur will lead their efforts to address the many challenges facing Hawaiʻi’s native wildlife and the fragile ecosystems they depend upon.

Bjur is a descendant of Kawaihapai from the north shore of Oʻahu. She has more than 20 years of experience developing and implementing conservation, environmental, educational and community engagement programs for keiki to kūpuna here in Hawaiʻi. Before joining CCH, Bjur was the Assistant Executive Director at Waimea Valley. “We are thrilled to welcome Moana as CCH’s new Executive Director,” said Dr. Rachel Sprague, CCH Board President. “CCH has a long-standing history as a voice for our imperiled native species, and we look forward to Moana leading our important work to protect and restore Hawaiʻi’s native wildlife and wild places for future generations.”

Ten Original Songs Featured at the 100th Annual Song Contest

This year will be the 100th Annual Kamehameha Schools Song Contest and in celebration of this milestone, the students will present 10 original songs. The theme this year is “I Mau Ke Aloha ʻĀina,” and for the first time in the history of the contest, every song that will be presented was written and composed by the students.

The songs are about a wide range of topics within the theme including learning from Kahoʻolawe, celebrating Mālama Honua, paying tribute to Kalaupapa and protecting the ʻōhia lehua. These are the stories of our lähui today, through the lense of aloha ʻāina, composed by its youth as part of the ongoing moʻolelo of Hawaiʻi for future generations.

The annual event will be on Friday, March 20th at 7:00 p.m. at the Neil Blaisdell Center. The pre-show will be broadcast at 6:00 p.m. on KFVE, and the contest will be broadcast live on KGMB. For more information and to view music videos created by the students and their kumu, go to

Bamboo Ridge Goes Digital

Fans of local literature are now able to access out-of-print works from Bamboo Ridge Press online and absolutely free! Paper disintegrates, ink fades and library books are sometimes lost or stolen, so to preserve Bamboo Ridge’s past titles as it continues to publish into the future, all out-of-print and nearly out-of-print issues have been digitized thanks to a grant from the Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities. The collection will be housed on the Kapiʻolani Comunity College Repository where all issues will be downloadable and free to the public. The archive is an ongoing project and labor of love that will be a resource for generations of readers to come. Additional funding is necessary for further digitization. If you would like to participate in this project, please consider making a donation via their website at

KSH Presents First-ever Hula Drama

Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi’s 17th annual Hōʻike will break new ground with the school’s first-ever hula drama honoring Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani. Kumu Kalehua Simeona wrote most of the mele and created the storyline for this year’s production. Keʻelikōlani is significant to the history of Kamehameha Schools, as Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop inherited the bulk of her estate from her. The presentation is entitled “Keʻelikōlani: Moku Aʻe Ka Pawa” which references the reawakening of Hawaiian conciousness.

The Hōʻike will be presented on March 12 and 13 at 6:00 p.m. in the school’s Koaiʻa Gymnasium at the Keaʻau Campus. Tickets range from $5 (keiki) to $20 (VIP) and are available presale or at the door. For more information go to or call 982-0669.

Kūʻē Petitions: A Mau Loa Aku Nō Released in February

Kaiao Press, an imprint of Native Books, Inc., in partnership with Friends of the Judiciary History Center, released the publication Kūʻē Petitions: A Mau Loa Aku Nō last month. “The Kūʻē Petitions hold a special significance to our lāhui,” says Maile Meyer, founder of Native Books, “as historical documents, they mark a pivotal time in the history of our islands.”

In 1897-98, Hui Hawaiʻi Aloha ʻĀina mounted a massive political drive, collecting more than 21,000 signatures for the “Palapala Hoopii Kue Hoohuiaina,” a petition against the annexation of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi by the United States. Submitted to the U.S. Congress, the Kūʻē Petitions (as they are now commonly known) were successful in defeating the treaty of annexation. They then fell into obscurity before re-entering the consciousness of the lāhui in 1998, when scholar Noenoe K. Silva found them at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

The book features all of the 556 petitions in full-color, along with compelling essays by ʻōiwi authors Jonathan Kay Kamakawiwoʻole Osorio, Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio, Nālani Minton and Noenoe K. Silva. The book retails for $148.00.