Maui Arts & Entertainment

Keawala‘i Church Anniversary Lū‘au Set for March 9

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John Cruz. Courtesy photo.

“Hana Hou! One More Time” is the theme for the 28th annual lū‘au of Keawala‘i Congregational Church in Mākena, which is scheduled for Saturday, March 9, 2019.

Over the years, the grounds of the church have been the setting for many Maui hālau and Maui musicians and singers.

This year, the lūʻau welcomes John Cruz. From the time he was a young boy growing up in Palolo Valley on O‘ahu, he was destined to play music. Whether inside or outside the home, his earliest memories were filled with song.

His Hawaiian grandmother had a beautiful voice and sang in church. His mom loved the Motown sound and had an extensive record collection. His dad played country music and taught John to perform live shows at a very young age.


His brothers and sisters were all musically inclined and along with numerous aunties, uncles, cousins, neighbors and friends, they have surrounded John with the gift of music for his entire life. Although he grew up in Hawai‘i, it wasn’t until he moved to the East Coast in 1983 that he developed his own style as a singer songwriter.

He retired to Hawai‘i a little over a decade later to help his brother, Ernie, record his album. At the time, Ernie was a member of the Ka‘au Crater Boys. John was invited to play bass and within a year, he released his first album, Acoustic Soul.

Keawalai Church in Mākena, Maui. Courtesy photo.

It was from that album that Sitting in Limbo, Shine On and Island Style received daily radio airplay. The album went on to receive two Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards in 1997—one for Contemporary Album of the Year and one for Most Promising Artist. Over the last decade, he has distinguished himself as one of the most talented artists of Hawai‘i.

Kapono‘aikaulikeikeao Molitau and Sissy Farm-Lake are Nā Kumu Hula for Nā Hanona Kulike ‘O Pi‘ilani, a hālau that celebrated its 15th anniversary on June 9, 2018. Kapono‘ai and Sissy are hānai siblings who have made a commitment to carry on the legacy of hula master Maiki Aiu Lake and their late father Maui native and master changer and Kumu Hula John Keolamaka‘āinanākalahuiokalanikamehameha‘ekolu Lake.


Over the years, members of the hālau made a pilgrimage to ‘Aotearoa in 2008. In 2018, the students of the hālau as well as ‘ohana or family members traveled to Tahiti and Rapa Nui to share their hula and chants, both kahiko or traditional and ‘auana or modern.

Nā Hanona Kulike ‘O Pi‘ilani has led protocol and rites throughout Hawai‘i, including ceremonies at Pu‘u Koholā Heiau National Historic Site at Kawaihae on Hawai‘i island. They return to Mākena for their another visit.

Kumu hula Hōkūlani Holt is no stranger to Mākena. She returns with the haumana of Hālau Nā Hanona Kūlike O Pi‘ilani. Hōkūlani first studied with her grandmother Ida Pakulani Long, and later from her aunt Kahili Cummings, mother of Leiana Woodside and kumu hula Hoakalei Kamau‘u.

We know kumu as an educator, playwright, composer and director. Her hula stage production about Maui’s premier chief, Kahekili, toured the U.S., Japan and Germany.


“As a kumu hula,” she said, “one of the joys of my life is helping the mele come to life through hula. We teach and learn about stories, place names, cultural practices, plants, animals weather conditions, foods, ceremonies, religion and the myriad ways that our ancestors saw their environment.”

In addition to music, dance and food, there will be an area for children and a gift center. Tickets are $50 for adults and $10 for youth, ages 12 to 17. The entertainment will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Food service will begin at noon.

For tickets, contact the church office at (808) 879-5557 or email [email protected].


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