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Halau returns winners again

Kumu Hula Leina‘ala Pavao Jardin and Halau Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala were greeted on Sunday, April 16, 2023, with the same level of love, respect and aloha as if they had won the major awards from the 60th annual Merrie Monarch Festival.

“I didn’t finish until after 2 a.m. Sunday,” said Owen Tango, who was among the halau’s homecoming greeters. “They didn’t announce anything until around midnight Saturday, and I couldn’t get the wrong things on the card.”

Other people waited through the ordeal of delayed flights and the uncertainty of when the flight would actually get to Lihu‘e Airport.

Halau Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala, the sole Kaua‘i halau invited to participate in the invitation-only festival, finished the 60th annual Merrie Monarch in fifth place in the kahiko (ancient hula) category for its number about Nohili.

They continued with a third-place finish in the ‘auana (modern hula) category for its performance about a love story taking place on the North Shore of Kaua‘i.

Overall, the halau earned third-place honors after sweeping the female honors last year.

Breeze Pavao, the halau’s candidate for Miss Aloha Hula, finished that competition with first runner-up honors.

“This was another amazing year,” Pavao Jardin said. “We’re going to have to start so we can have another amazing experience next year.”

Unlike previous homecoming greetings, members of the halau and parents of returning hula dancers welcomed the group and the prize awards with a welcoming oli about Kukuiolono at Kalaheo with the arriving dancers. Pavao Jardin joined in the oli.

The Merrie Monarch Festival honors the legacy of King David Kalakaua, known as the Merrie Monarch, who inspired the perpetuation of Hawaiian traditions, native language and arts.
Source: The Garden Island

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