Hālau Homecoming: Dancers Return from Win at Merrie Monarch Hula Festival
Family and friends greeted Maui’s award-winning Hālau Nā Lei Kaumaka O Uka with an oli (chant) and lei as the arrived at Kahului Airport on Sunday. The hālau is coming off of a whirlwind weekend, earning top honors and the overall title at the 55th Annual Merrie Monarch Hula Festival in Hilo, Hawaiʻi. Hālau soloist, Shalia Kapuau’ionalani Kikuyo Kamakaokalani also took the coveted title of Miss Aloha Hula 2018.
We spoke with kumu hula Nāpua Greig who said she was overwhelmed, grateful and honored to be a part of the group of practitioners who took the stage this year.
“We’re really excited and extremely humbled, but I always tell them–not just this year, but always–awards do not make or break us,” said Kumu Nāpua Greig. “We’re really grateful, but we also know we always have work to do. There will always be room for improvement… We’re just excited to be a part of all of it.”
“The nominations and the awards are wonderful, and I guess they help to let us know that we’re on the right path–that our lāhui is receptive to what we’re doing, which is the point,” said Greig.
After 14 years of competition, Greig said the hālau would be taking a break from the festival for a while. “It’s our kuleana to get the next generation ready,” said Greig who expressed a desire to ʻūniki or graduate her alakaʻi (leaders). “Competition takes a lot out of you; now it’s time to put back in,” she said.
“When you compete, live we’ve been, it becomes a cycle. You’re either preparing for competition, or fundraising for competition, or (you’re) at the competition. And it doesn’t leave a lot of time or room or funds to do different things,” said Greig.
In a festival interview, Greig said, “We never can learn enough about our island.” She said the festival allows the hālau to intellectually pursue more levels of hula education including the huakaʻi (excursion/trip) that the various hālau take to learn more about the places mentioned in the mele.
Greig, who is also a musician and musical artist was recognized earlier this week with the most nominations on the newly released ballot for the 2018 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I found out about the nominations while I was at Merrie Monarch. I haven’t really looked through them all or gotten to digest that part yet,” said Greig.
“I’m grateful everyday–one, that I’ve been blessed with certain talents, but more so, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to use these talents to do good, constructive things for our lāhui,” she said.