News Briefs | May 2022


Piʻikea Lopes Wins Miss Aloha Hula 2022 and OHA Hawaiian Language Award

Photo: Piʻikea Kekīhenelehuawewehiikekauʻōnohi Lopes

E hoʻomaikaʻi iā Piʻikea Kekīhenelehuawewehiikekauʻōnohi Lopes, who was named Miss Aloha Hula 2022 at the 59th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival on April 21. Lopes was also the winner of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Hawaiian Language Award, earning a perfect score of 50. OHA Board of Trustees Chair Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey presented the award. Lopes is the daughter of nā Kumu Hula Tracie and Keawe Lopes of Ka Lā ʻŌnohi Mai o Haʻehaʻe. Her kahiko number was “No Puna Ke Āiwaiwa Hikina” by composer Lolokū which venerates the district of Puna. Her ʻauana number was “Pua Be-Still” by Bill Aliʻiloa Lincoln, a mele hoʻoheno honoring his home in Kohala. In second place was Auliʻionāpualokekūonaona Jon-Marie Hisayo Faurot of Hula Hālau ʻo Kamuela and in third place was Marina Laʻakea Choi of Hālau Hiʻiakaināmakalehua. – Photo: Dennis Omori, Merrie Monarch Festival

Molokaʻi’s Kawela Stream Restored

The State of Hawaiʻi Commission on Water Resource Management has unanimously restored Molokaʻi’s Kawela Stream to flow levels not seen in over 100 years – recommending full restoration of the stream within one year.

The April 19 decision came nearly three years after Molokaʻi Nō Ka Heke, a community group advocating for the protection of Kawela and other streams, formally requested restoration in the summer of 2019.

“After over 100 years of Kawela waters being diverted and wasted, we finally said enough is enough,” said Molokaʻi Nō Ka Heke member and longtime aloha ʻāina Walter Ritte. “The big ranching and ag operations are gone, and we couldn’t just sit and watch this precious water be thrown away.”

Kawela and neighboring streams have been diverted since the early 1900s to provide water to plantations and ranches on the arid west end of the island, now owned by a hotel operator based in Singapore but still called “Molokaʻi Ranch.”

Water Commission reports document that the ranch has consistently diverted around nine times the amount of water it actually uses.

Restoration of the streamflow will begin the process of rehabilitating the stream, its wetlands, and nearshore aquatic environment. “Kawela needs to flow, not just for the health of the fish and limu, but for the health of the people who live the subsistence lifestyle, and the overall health of the ʻāina itself,” said Teave Heen of Kawela.

Near the dry Kawela river mouth is Kakahaʻia, a National Wildlife Refuge for rare wetland birds that has been severely affected by the diversion of streamflow. Restoration will help revitalize the wetlands that provide habitat for protected species.

Molokaʻi Ranch has 180 days to propose plans to fully restore Kawela Stream.

Leo Haʻihaʻi Competition Highlights Falsetto’s Finest

Photo: Leo Haʻihaʻi contestants
Leo Haʻihaʻi contestants (l-r): Leimana Purdy, Teressa Deneen Welolani Medeiros Noury, Rainbow Uliʻi, Polanimakamae Kahakalau-Kalima, and Lahela Lee Park. – Photo: Kehau Watson

The First Annual Carmen Hulu Lindsey Leo Haʻihaʻi Falsetto Competition was held on Saturday, April 16, on the grounds of the Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua, in its newly renovated, open-air Aloha Garden Pavilion. The virtuoso herself was present, along with her family, to kick off this new competition that honors the Nā Hoku Hanohano winner’s long musical career while serving as a platform for new female falsetto singers to showcase their craft.

“It’s not about singing high. It’s about knowing when to break the notes up,” shared Lindsey. “Hardly anyone sings this Hawaiian style of music. I’m honored to be the namesake of this contest and honored to help keep the tradition alive.”

Five women from across the pae ʻāina entered, each offering moʻolelo and mele: Polanimakamae Kahakalau-Kalima of Hilo, Hawaiʻi Island; Leimana Purdy of Waiohuli, Maui; Rainbow Ulii of Honolulu, Oʻahu; Lahela Lee Park of Kawaipapa, Hāna; and Teressa Deneen Welolani Medeiros Noury of Lahaina, Maui.

Third place went to Kahakalau-Kalima who performed her mele inoa (name song), He Pō Lani Makamae. In second place was Purdy, a senior at Kamehameha Schools Maui, for her rendition of Aloha Punaluʻu.

First place went to Lee Park for her performance of Pua Like ʻOle which she dedicated to the late kumu hulu and haku mele, Johnny Lum Ho. Lee Park also received the ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi Award which was presented by Ritz-Carlton Cultural Advisor Clifford Naeʻole, and General Manager Andrew Rogers.

Lee Park is a service ranger at Haleakalā National Park in the Kīpahulu district at ʻOheʻo. A musician by night, she performs weekly at Hāna Farms and the Hāna Maui Resort.

Kapalua’s Celebration of the Arts Turns 30

Celebration of the Arts, the annual cultural and arts event held at the Ritz Carlton, Kapalua, last month is one of Hawaiʻi’s best community events.

While not as widely known as other events, Kapalua’s Cultural Director Clifford Naeʻole has personally curated this exquisite showcase to become one of the island’s finest exhibits of Hawaiian high art, culture, and fashion.

The event has evolved over the years, as Maui artisans and designers have grown in numbers. This year, fashion by Paleleua, Makakū Maui by Kamaka Kukona, Ha Wahine and others had their lines available for purchase – no easy feat the week before Merrie Monarch. Guests were also treated to a lively fashion show where designers from Maui and Molokaʻi presented the latest designs.

Cultural workshops and presentations are also offered during the three-day event, and this year, in addition to lauhala weaving, lei-making, hula and other workshops, presentations from across the islands were offered.

On the final night of the celebration, the First Annual Carmen Hulu Lindsey Leo Haʻihaʻi Falsetto Competition was also held, sponsored by the hotel. The hotel was the perfect venue for the competition, as Lindsey herself performed as a musician there for years.

ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi Production Closes UH Mānoa Mainstage Season

Photo: Hoʻoilina Cast
Lily Hiʻilani Kim-Dela Cruz (seated, center) as Lili-Lei, Makiʻilei Ishihara as Noe, and Joshua “Baba” Kamoaniʻala Tavares as Nane in a scene from Hoʻoilina. – Photo: UH Mānoa

UH Mānoa’s Department of Theatre and Dance closed out its 2021-22 mainstage season on April 15 to 24 with its presentation of Hoʻoilina written and directed by UH Mānoa Hawaiian Theatre MFA candidate Ākea Kahikina.

Hoʻoilina, which means “legacy” or “inheritance” is a comedy set in pre-pandemic Hawaiʻi that tells the story of a Hawaiian family anxiously poised for the reading of the will of their recently departed and beloved ʻohana matriarch. At stake is a huge inheritance. As the will is about to be read, a stranger appears claiming her right to the inheritance.

In the chaos that follows family secrets are revealed, relationships are questioned, and their identity and future as Kānaka are explored – including the notion of what it takes to be “considered Hawaiian” within the contexts of capitalism and cultural loss.

The play was presented primarily in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, however, English and Pidgin were also used, as well as what playwright Kahikina describes as ʻōlelo māhū (Queer creole). Kahikina’s concept of the māhū dialect is one that he claims descended from ʻōlelo kake, a traditional form of garbling language to conceal information.

“Putting that language in there is a way to honor my queer community, my māhū brothers and sisters that I’ve learned from,” said Kahikina, who credits his partner, Kaʻiminaʻauao Cambern for teaching him everything he put into the script.

UH Mānoa’s Hawaiian Theatre program was founded by Kumu Tammy Hailiʻiōpua Baker in 2014.

Peʻa Wins Third Grammy

Photo: Kalani Peʻa
Kalani Peʻa

E hoʻomaikaʻi to Maui-based musician Kalani Peʻa who won his third Grammy Award at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on April 3! His album, Kau Ka Peʻa, took top honors in the Best Regional Roots category.

Peʻa was the only Native Hawaiian nominee for this year’s Grammy Awards. The four other nominees in the Best Regional Roots category were all New Orleans-based artists/groups.

Peʻa’s previous Grammy Awards were also won in the Best Regional Roots category; the first in 2017 for his album, E Walea, and his second in 2019 for No ʻAneʻi.

Born and raised on Hawaiʻi Island, Peʻa is a 2001 graduate of Ke Kula ʻo Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu, and is fluent in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. Before pursuing his musical career full-time, Peʻa worked as a Hawaiian resource coordinator at Kamehameha Schools. His artistic talents also extend to the visual arts – Peʻa has illustrated five Hawaiian language books for keiki. Peʻa now makes his home on Maui.

Peʻa also made history at this year’s Grammy Awards when he was invited to sing Motown’s Dance to the Music with other nominees in the show’s Premiere All-Star Band opening performance. He is the first Native Hawaiian invited to sing onstage at the Grammys and sang his solo in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi.

Peʻa is planning a two-month world tour this summer and has a Christmas album in the works.

ʻŌiwi Tapped as Cultural Curators at Bishop Museum

Bishop Museum recently announced the appointment of cultural curators Healoha Johnston and Sarah Kuaiwa to its Ethnology Department, thanks to support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Their addition is part of the museum’s effort to “Build a Pacific Pipeline” of curators and caretakers, with the goal of preserving and perpetuating the cultural resources and moʻolelo of Hawaiʻi and the Pacific.

“Bishop Museum’s cultural collections are extensive and include tens of thousands of historic items, books, documents and other priceless cultural treasures – and each has a story to tell,” said Cultural Advisor Marques Marzan.

The museum’s Ethnology Collection consists of over 77,000 items housed in eight collection spaces and is the world’s largest collection of Hawaiian cultural items.

Marzan notes that, through the efforts of the Building a Pacific Pipeline: Te Rangi Hiroa Curators and Caretakers Program, and the expertise of Kuaiwa and Johnston, these treasures will “not only have experienced museum professionals ensuring their care, but also taking an active part in telling their stories to a global audience.”

Johnston is an art historian and previously served as curator at the Smithsonian Institution’s Asian Pacific American Center, and as chief curator and curator of the Arts of Hawaiʻi, Oceania, Africa, and the Americas at the Honolulu Museum of Art.

Kuaiwa is a historian and genealogist specializing in 19th-century Hawaiʻi. She is currently working on a Ph.D. at the Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, U.K.

Hulihia Seeks Manaʻo Regarding Healthcare on Maui

Hulihia: Center for Sustainable Systems

Hulihia Center for Sustainable Systems, a sustainability-focused organization with the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College, invites the public to participate in its final Community Talk Story session on healthcare on May 10.

Hulihia utilizes sustainability science rooted in Indigenous knowledge to find creative and robust ways of tackling and solving issues that affect our community.

Currently, they are working on a project at the request of the Maui Representatives in the Hawaiʻi state legislature that examines healthcare on Maui and Lānaʻi. Based on their findings, they will be providing the members of the state legislature and Maui Health Systems a clearer understanding of community needs, opportunities to reduce barriers, and how best to sustainably serve the community going forward.

The May 10 Community Talk Story session will be offered online. It is the third in a series of three such sessions. Organizers hope to get vital public feedback regarding healthcare on Maui. To participate, reserve your space at least two days before the event at

For those who are interested in providing feedback, but unable make the Talk Story session on May 10, a brief online survey is also available on Hulihia’s website.

Healing the Healers Event on Maui

Maui United Way along with Hawaiʻi Land Trust (HILT) and Hui No Ke Ola Pono hosted a “Healing the Healers” event on April 7 at Waiheʻe Refuge to mahalo and uplift Maui-based nonprofit and health center staff exhausted by the ongoing pandemic. The event included working on the ʻāina with HILT, cultural and health activities, and meaʻai from Hui No Ke Ola Pono.

“It has been tough for everyone and providing social services during this time has definitely taken a toll. A day of healing and gratitude was in order,” said Nicholas Winfrey, president and CPO of Maui United Way.

Nonprofits fill the gap in community services that government and the private sector don’t provide. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, nonprofits have had limited resources, with growing demand and needs for their work.

Nonprofit and health center staff report feeling exhausted because of the constant need to adjust their programs and services due to COVID-19 fluctuations, in addition to their already taxing jobs. Across the board, nonprofits and health centers report concerns about the emotional health and wellbeing of staff and uncertainty about the future.

“Our job as nonprofits is to help and heal our community in many different ways. We can’t help if we are worn down,” shared Laura Kaakua, CEO of Hawaiʻi Land Trust. “From a Hawaiian perspective, when we need to heal, we go to the land, we go to the ocean. When we collectively return to the land and ocean, it brings collective healing so we can continue healing and helping others.”

The Story of Kapaemahu Offered as a Children’s Book

Kapaemahu, an animated short film that made the 2021 Academy Awards’ official shortlist – the first film by a Native Hawaiian filmmaker to do so – has been reimagined as a children’s book.

Kapaemahu is a re-telling of a traditional moʻolelo about four individuals of dual male and female spirit, or māhū, who brought healing arts to Hawaiʻi from Tahiti. They settled in Waikīkī and were beloved by the people for their gentle ways and miraculous cures. Before they departed, the people memorialized them by placing four huge stones near their dwelling place. The healers transferred their names and healing powers into the stones and then vanished.

Written, directed, narrated and co-produced by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, the short film, Kapaemahu, won critical acclaim on the international film festival circuit. In creating the book, Wong-Kalu re-assembled the talented team that produced the film: Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson, who helped with the writing, and illustrator Daniel Sousa.

The film was narrated in ʻōlelo Niʻihau with English subtitles. Similarly, the picture book will use both ʻōlelo Niʻihau and English. In the book’s forward Wong-Kalu writes: “It is our duty as Native people to render our narratives from the heart set and mindset of our ancestors and how they saw the world. That’s why I wanted to write a bilingual film and book about Kapaemahu using Olelo Niihau [sic]…We need to be active participants in telling our own stories in our own way.”

Kapaemahu is a Penguin Young Readers book, a publication of Penguin Random House, and will be available June 7.

Summer Science Camp Scholarships Offered

Thanks to a grant from the Atherton Family Foundation, full scholarships are available for Native Hawaiian students to attend Science Camps of America’s highly regarded summer science camp in Pāhala on Hawaiʻi Island.

Two overnight science camps for teens are available in July 2022. The camp is open to Native Hawaiian students from any island. The scholarships cover all costs for the camps except for airfare to/from Hawaiʻi Island

The Land & Sea Camp is scheduled for July 1-10, and the Air & Space Camp is scheduled for July 11-20. The application deadline is May 15. Interested students should apply soon, as scholarships are limited.

For more information go to: For session-specific info go to:

7th Annual Manu o Kū Festival on May 7

Photo: Native Birds

Bring your keiki and a picnic lunch and hele mai to the coronation lawn at ʻIolani Palace on Saturday, May 7, for the 7th Annual Manu o Kū Festival. This free festival celebrates the native bird ambassador, Manu o Kū, and features entertainment, games, crafts, a wildlife costume contest, walking tours, learning activities centered on native Hawaiian wildlife, and more. The festival is from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. In addition, leading up to the festival, daily walking tours and storytelling will be offered at Waikīkī’s International Market Place May 1-6. Manu o Kū is a native white tern, that is currently found only in urban Honolulu (Hawaiʻi Kai to Pearl Harbor). Because of this, Manu o Kū was designated the Official Bird of the City and County of Honolulu in 2007. The festival is co-funded by the Conservation Council for Hawaiʻi, the National Wildlife Federation, and Hui Manu o Kū. For more information go to: – Photo: Melody Bentz Photography