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Halau comes home to Kaua‘i

LIHU‘E — Hundreds of people, including participants of the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, crammed the Lihu‘e Airport baggage claim area on Sunday, anticipating the homecoming of Kumu Hula Leina‘ala Pavao Jardin, and the “menehune” of Halau Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala.

The halau left Kaua‘i on July 26 to participate in the 2023 Queen Lili‘uokalani Keiki Hula Competition that was held at Brigham Young University campus in Laie, O‘ahu.

The event started on Thursday and wrapped up on Saturday.

Kumu Leina‘ala and the menehune finished the competition with a lot of hardware, including the coveted 2023 Miss Keiki Hula that was taken by Kahena Lindsey whose dad, Kapa‘a High School Principal Tommy John Cox, was among the congratulatory sea of halau supporters after arriving home on an earlier flight.

Kahi Sugahara finished in third place for the Master Keiki Hula competition and shared the honor of leading the halau with Lindsey through the automated doors leading to the baggage claim area.

Overall, the halau earned the coveted ‘Olelo, or Hawaiian Language award, and Kumu Leina‘ala was announced the winner of the Wehiwehi Award.

“The competition was tight,” said Kaleo Carvalho of the Mayor’s Office, who traveled with the group as a supporter for one of the halau performers. “There was a group from Japan who could’ve taken some of the awards, but came up short on technicalities. The participating halau were really good. We were better.”

The little things that could’ve been better relegated the kaikamahine, or girl dancers, to a second place finish in the kahiko division.

Of the 29 participating “menehune,” a term used by Kumu Leina‘ala to describe the performers, the seven keikikane, or boys, rose to the occasion and overcame the third place Master Keiki finish to capture first place finishes in kahiko, ‘auana and Overall Keikikane.

“A huge congratulations go to our keiki for their outstanding accomplishments at Keiki Hula,” said Leina‘ala as the O‘ahu travelers collected with their competition hardware to perform a homecoming oli, celebrating its accomplishments and thanking the sea of supporters.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

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