Maui Arts & Entertainment

Merrie Monarch Festival 2021 Officially Moving Forward

March 28, 2021, 7:48 AM HST
* Updated March 28, 8:18 AM
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  • PC: Merrie Monarch Hula Festival
  • Congratulations Miss Aloha Hula 2019 Taizha Keakealani Hughes-Kaluhiokalani Hālau Hiʻiakaināmakalehua Nā Kumu Hula: Robert Keʻano Kaʻupu IV & Lono Padilla. Photo credit: Merrie Monarch Festival
  • Congratulations Miss Aloha Hula 2019 Taizha Keakealani Hughes-Kaluhiokalani Hālau Hiʻiakaināmakalehua Nā Kumu Hula: Robert Keʻano Kaʻupu IV & Lono Padilla. Photo credit: Merrie Monarch Festival
  • Hālau Hi‘iakaināmakalehua Hula: He Kau No Hiʻiakaikapoliopele Nā Kumu Hula: Robert Keʻano Kaʻupu IV & Lono Padilla Moku: Kalihi Kai, Oʻahu. Photo Credit: Merrie Monarch Festival
  • Hālau Kekuaokalā‘au‘ala‘iliahi Hula: Kū ʻOe Koʻu Wahi ʻŌhelo Nei Nā Kumu Hula: Haunani & ʻIliahi Paredes Moku: Wailuku, Maui. Photo credit: Merrie Monarch Festival
  • Hālau Kekuaokalā‘au‘ala‘iliahi Hula: He Aloha Nō ʻO Honolulu Nā Kumu Hula: Haunani & ʻIliahi Paredes Moku: Wailuku, Maui. Photo credit: Merrie Monarch Festival
  • Hālau O Ka Hanu Lehua Hula: Kahi, Lua, Kolu Kumu Hula: Kamaka Kukona Moku: Waikapū, Maui. Photo credit: Merrie Monarch Festival
  • Hula Hālau ‘O Kamuela Hula: ʻO Lono ʻOe Nā Kumu Hula: Kunewa Mook & Kau‘ionālani Kamana‘o Home: Kalihi & Waimānalo, Oʻahu. Photo credit: Merrie Monarch Festival
  • Hula Hālau ‘O Kamuela Hula: He Lei Aloha No Hilo Nā Kumu Hula: Kunewa Mook & Kau‘ionālani Kamana‘o Home: Kalihi & Waimānalo, Oʻahu. Photo Credit: Merrie Monarch Festival
  • Hālau Ka Liko Pua O Kalaniākea Hula: E Piʻi i Ka Nāhelehele Kumu Hula: Kapua Dalire-Moe Moku: Kāneʻohe, Oʻahu. Merrie Monarch Festival
  • Ka Lā ‘Ōnohi Mai O Ha‘eha‘e Hula: Ka Nani I Kumukahi Nā Kumu Hula: Tracie & Keawe Lopes Moku: Pūʻahuʻula, Koʻolaupoko, Oʻahu. Photo credit: Merrie Monarch Festival
  • Hālau Keolakapuokalani Hula: Holo Mai Pele Mai Ka Hikina Kumu Hula: Drake Keolakapu Dudoit Delaforce Moku: ʻĀliamanu & Nānākuli, Oʻahu. Photo credit: Merrie Monarch Festival
  • Hālau O Lilinoe Hula: Kāua I Ka Nani Aʻo Hula Nā Kumu Hula: Sissy & Lilinoe Kaio Moku: Carson, California. Photo credit: Merrie Monarch Festival
  • Kawaiʻulaokalā Hula: Kaweloleimakua Kumu Hula: Keliʻi Puchalski Moku: Kalaepōhaku, Oʻahu. Photo credit: Merrie Monarch Festival
  • Beamer Solomon Hālau O Poʻohala Hula: Lei O Hāʻena Kumu Hula: Hulali Solomon-Covington Moku: Kohala, Hawaiʻi. Photo credit Merrie Monarch Festival
  • Keolalaulani Hālau ʻŌlapa O LakaHula Hula Nani Oʻahu Kuʻu One Hānau Kumu Hula: Keola Dalire Moku: Heʻeia, Kāneʻohe, Oʻahu. Photo credit: Merrie Monarch Festival
  • Ke Kai O Kahiki Hula: Kahi Kēia O Niʻihau Kumu Hula: Laʻakea Perry Moku: Waiʻanae, Oʻahu. Photo credit: Merrie Monarch Festival
  • Kealiʻikaʻapunihonua Keʻena Aʻo Hula Hula: Kai Aʻo Māmala Kumu Hula: Leimomi Ho Moku: Pālolo, Oʻahu. Photo credit: Merrie Monarch Festival
  • Hālau Hula Ka Lehua Tuahine Hula: Kaulīlua Kumu Hula: Ka‘ilihiwa Vaughan-Darval Moku: Mānoa, Oʻahu. Photo credit: Merrie Monarch Festival
  • Hālau Kekuaokalā‘au‘ala‘iliahi Hula: He Inoa Kēia No Kapiʻolani Nā Kumu Hula: Haunani & ʻIliahi Paredes Moku: Wailuku, Maui. Photo credit: Merrie Monarch Festival
  • Hālau Hula ʻO Kahikilaulani Hula: ʻO Puna Lau Momona Kumu Hula: Nāhōkūokalani Gaspang Moku: Hilo, Hawaiʻi. Photo credit: Merrie Monarch Festival
  • Hālau I Ka Wēkiu Hula: ʻAlekoki Nā Kumu Hula: Karl Veto Baker & Michael Casupang Home: Pauoa, Oʻahu. Photo credit: Merrie Monarch Festival
  • Hālau Hula Olana Hula: No Luna I Ka Hale Kai No Ka Maʻalewa Nā Kumu Hula: Howard & Olana Ai, and Shelsea Ai Apana Moku: Puʻuloa, Oʻahu. Photo credit Merrie Monarch Festival

After months of developing rigorous safety guidelines and a television broadcast plan that will allow for a virtual audience experience, the Merrie Monarch Festival announced that the hula competition will be held this summer.

The event that had been held annually since 1964, but was suspended last year due to the pandemic. In 2020, Festival President Luana Kawelu called off the event weeks before it was to be held in the Spring of 2020.

“The health and wellbeing of all hālau participants and the community overall was our top priority then and continues to be now as we move forward with holding the event this year,” said Kawelu who worked with health professionals and a team of advisors to develop safety guidelines modeled after those used by professional sports teams and associations over the past year. Kawelu continued: “We are grateful to our partners, including representatives from The Queen’s Health Systems, that are lending their time, expertise and resources to help us set up and implement this comprehensive safety plan.”

All hālau participants, festival staff, as well as the television production crew have agreed to follow the guidelines that include undergoing multiple COVID testings, a five day isolation period prior to entering the competition venue for the first time, and daily screenings to continually monitor participants for symptoms.

Kumu Hula Keʻano Kaʻupu of Hālau Hiʻiakaināmakalehua said, “it was a lot to consider given that competition preparation is intense in and of itself. But hula isn’t just an activity we do, it is our way of life and we really wanted to be back in this Merrie Monarch space and community.” Fellow Kumu, Lono Padilla said, “the level of detail and analysis that went into the guidelines and protocols reassured us that this was something we could do safely.”

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County of Hawaiʻi Mayor Mitch Roth affirmed the County’s support of the festival saying, “as a dedicated and crucial partner, the County of Hawai‘i continues to work closely with Merrie Monarch Festival President Luana Kawelu, and the Organizing Committee.” Roth specifically acknowledged the plan saying, “I have received, read and approved the comprehensive and robust outline of the extensive protocols and actions.” 

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As announced back in late November 2020, there will be no live audience but there will be a three-night television broadcast of the competition on Hawaiʻi News Now’s KFVE.

Performances will take place and be judged in Hilo at the Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium on June 24, 25, and 26 and then be broadcasted on KFVE the following week on July 1, 2 and 3 at which time the winners will be announced.

There are a total of 15 hālau participating (listed below) that will present 11 Wahine and eight Kāne performances in both the Kahiko and ʻAuana categories as well as seven Miss Aloha Hula entrants.

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Check the festival’s website – merriemonarch.com – and follow their social media platforms as well as Hawaiʻi News Now’s multiple stations and digital platforms for ongoing updates and information.

List of Participating Hālau:

  • Hālau Hi‘iakaināmakalehua
  • Hālau Hula ‘O Nāpunaheleonāpua
  • Hālau Hula Ke ‘Olu Makani O Mauna Loa
  • Hālau Hula Olana
  • Hālau I Ka Wēkiu
  • Hālau Ka Lei Mokihana o Leinā‘ala
  • Hālau Ka Liko Pua O Kalaniākea
  • Hālau Kala‘akeakauikawēkiu
  • Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi
  • Hālau Keolakapuokalani
  • Hālau O Ka Hanu Lehua
  • Ka Lā ‘Ōnohi Mai O Ha‘eha‘e
  • Kawai‘ulaokalā
  • Kawaili‘ulā
  • Ke Kai O Kahiki

The Merrie Monarch Festival is a week-long cultural event that began in 1964 and is held in Hilo, Hawaiʻi each spring featuring Hawaiian culture and a premier hula competition. The festival honors Hawaiʻi’s last reigning King, David Kalākaua, who was called the “Merrie Monarch” for his patronage of the arts and is credited with restoring many Hawaiian cultural traditions during his reign, including hula.

In addition to the hula competition, the week-long festivities typically include an invitational arts and crafts fair with some of the most sought after Native Hawaiian artisans and designers, cultural demonstrations, hula exhibitions, and a parade that showcases the many cultures of Hawaiʻi.

From the tens of thousands who attend the festival in Hilo, along with the hundreds of thousands who engage via the live television broadcast of both the Hōʻike and competition nights, lovers of hula from all around the world learn more about the history and culture of Hawaiʻi through the Merrie Monarch Festival. For more detailed information, visit merriemonarch.com.

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