Maui Activities

First Pāʻu Queen in 10 years rides Kamehameha Day in Lahaina, June 17

Listen to this Article
3 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

Ashley Lehuanani Branco. PC: (file 2017) Hideharu Yoshikawa

The 2023 Nā Kamehameha Commemorative Pāʻū Parade and Hoʻolauleʻa will host a Pāʻū Queen for the first time in 10 years this Saturday, June 17, 2023, event organizers said. As the longest running event in West Maui, the parade will showcase eight pāʻū units, decorated vehicles and floats by Maui’s businesses and nonprofits, and will be led by the Royal Order of Kamehameha.

“It has been over 10 years that we have had a Queen who has completed all eight islands as a full unit,” said Moani Whittle Wagner, Pā‘ū Coordinator. “There are two ways to become a queen. One way [is] to be selected by the committee and [it] is usually someone we are honoring. The other way, the most difficult way, is to ride all eight islands. This year we will see one of our most decorated riders, Ashley Lehuanani Branco take the reins as the Pā‘ū Queen, led by her long-time unit coordinator Kalani Ah Puck.”

  • Kamehameha Day in Lahaina. PC: (file 2022) Nā Kamehameha Commemorative Pā‘ū Parade and Ho‘olaule‘a
  • Kamehameha Day in Lahaina. PC: (file 2022) Nā Kamehameha Commemorative Pā‘ū Parade and Ho‘olaule‘a
  • Kamehameha Day in Lahaina. PC: (file 2022) Nā Kamehameha Commemorative Pā‘ū Parade and Ho‘olaule‘a
  • Kamehameha Day in Lahaina. PC: (file 2022) Nā Kamehameha Commemorative Pā‘ū Parade and Ho‘olaule‘a
  • Kamehameha Day in Lahaina. PC: (file 2022) Nā Kamehameha Commemorative Pā‘ū Parade and Ho‘olaule‘a

The 2023 Pā‘ū Court includes:

  • Pāʻū Queen Ashley Lehuanani Branco
  • Pāʻū Marshal Kalani Kapu
  • Molokaʻi Princess Leila Kalani Larson
  • Oʻahu Princess Melanie Malia Pali-Kaneakua
  • Kauaʻi Princess Christy Makanalani Kajiwara Gusma
  • Kahoʻolawe Princess Tiara “Tia” Ampong
  • Lānaʻi Princess Daphne Emmalani Lukela
  • Maui Princess Victoria-Ann Noelani Keawe-Aiko
  • Hawaiʻi Julia Keahonuimaikalani Wagner
  • Niʻihau Princess Mary Klein

The Pāʻū Committee inclues: Gena Lay Rickard – Wrapper; Kathleen Birmingham – Roving Marshal; Kimo Lum – Lei & Floral; Coordinator Moani Whittle-Wagner and Donna Otsuka – Honorary, Makawao Stampede Parade Grand Marshal.

Organizers are seeking volunteers for the parade. If you or your organization are interested and able, they may email [email protected].

Commentary stations along Front Street will be posted at: Tommy Bahama at Papalaua St and Front St, Kimo’s, Cheeseburger In Paradise, Lahaina Pizza Co. and the Wharf Cinema Center. 


The Parade Grand Marshal is Florence “Aunty Flo” Makekau posthumously. Makekau was born on April 12, 1938 and was a lei master from Lahaina. She was a staunch supporter of the Lahaina Kamehameha festivities helping to make kahili for royal courts and pāʻū units with their lei and florals and eventually becoming a judge. Known for her nibble fingers, her lei can be seen around the necks and heads of many in the form of feather and seed. 

The 2023 Pāʻū Marshal is Kalani Kapu of Kauaula, Maui. A kumu hula and lei master, Kapu has been a part of the Kamehameha Celebrations for many years on many islands. On Maui, he co-chaired the Pāʻū Committee and coordinated many units, inspiring many to become riders ultimately perpetuating the art of Pāʻū. 

Guided by the belief that “The heritage of Lahaina is worth preserving” – the Lahaina Restoration Foundation is celebrating 60 years with a float entry in the parade. The nonprofit organization was chartered in 1962 with a mission is to be stewards and storytellers of Lahaina’s Historic & Cultural Heritage.


Road closure notice: Front Street will be closed Saturday, June 17, 2023 from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. from Māla Bridge at the Cannery Mall to Shaw St. No parking is allowed along Front Street for the duration. All cars will be towed at driver’s expense. Please plan accordingly. Parking for the event is available at the Maui Outlets, Wharf Cinema Center (paid) and public parking at Luakini and Prison St.

Hoʻolauleʻa at Keawaiki under the Lahaina Banyan Tree will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with local food, Maui Made Crafters and entertainment by Reiko Fukino, Kaniala Masoe, Huewa, Hālau Keʻala Kahinano O Puna, Namaka Pauole and Kūikawā.

Organizers thanked the Maui Office of Economic Development, Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, Huihui Restaurant at the Kāʻanapali Beach Hotel, Pacific Media Group and KPOA 93.5FM, Lahaina Restoration Foundation and the Lahaina Hawaiian Civic Club for their contributions to this year’s event.


Sponsored Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily or weekly
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Maui Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments