A young voice for the Mauna

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By Aliantha Lim-Tepper

Pāheona Aiwohi began attending papa oli with her tutu Piʻi in Hālau Nā Hanona Kūlike O Piʻilani when she was barely three years old. It reflected her ʻohana’s deep commitment to living and perpetuating Hawaiian values and culture. Despite being a toddler, Pāhe was always attentive and participatory in her oli class. She loved to dance hula too and would practice with her mother, Keli Aiwohi, and sister, Kaʻiulani, at home. When she turned four she was officially enrolled in the hālau’s keiki hula class.

Pāheona Aiwohi on Maunakea – Photos: Keli Aiwohi

“I love dancing hula and singing. It makes me happy I get to do stuff that makes me Hawaiian like my family,” Pāhe told OHA. Now six years old, Pāhe attends first grade at Kula Kaiapuni ma Pāiʻa on Maui. ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi is also the primary language spoken at home among Pāhe and her five brothers and sisters.

Mama Keli Aiwohi shared, “She doesn’t know any other life. I don’t think she realizes how lucky she is to be surrounded by so much mea Hawaiʻi. For me growing up, my school didn’t even have ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi classes. I was lucky to be involved with hula at a young age. But now Pāhe has it ALL at her fingertips. The ʻōlelo, the oli, the hula, the history. This life is normal for her so hula and oli are second nature.”

Pāheona has also been at Maunakea multiple times this summer, and continues to go on weekends when she can. You may recognize her from the viral video offering a hoʻokupu of the mele ʻŌiwi Ē at the kūpuna tent. “My kumu taught us that mele to show us how we are all ʻohana. And I wanted to show aloha to the kūpuna,” Pāhe said. That heartfelt video has over 75,000 views. Her kumu, Mrs. Sissy Lake-Farm, shared, “When I saw the Facebook post of her leading the kāhea for ʻŌiwi Ē I was so excited. I know dad (Kumu Hula John Keola Lake) is proud and our hoʻoilina (legacy) exists through our haumāna, even as young as Pāheona. The kamaliʻi of today are taking on kuleana and have the resources to learn, grow, and continue to fight for our lāhui. She had the ʻiʻini and desire to hāpai that kuleana and so brilliantly, with no fear, but conviction and confidence to represent her, her mākua, her kumu, her kūpuna and all those who stand in front, beside, and behind her. Eō e Pāheona!” Pāheona, at six years old, is a living gem and confirms the righteousness of our keiki generation.