BY LISA MARIE DAHM
North Hawaii News
On April 21, the Honokaa People’s Theatre will be alive with hula.
Some of Hawaii’s most exciting halaus will perform at the Hamakua Youth Foundation Hula Festival, starting at 4 p.m., in support of the Hamakua Youth Center in Honokaa.
Performers include: Helelei Pua O Waipio, the Haleakala Sakata halau from Honokaa; the Beamer-Solomon Halau O Poohala from Waimea; students from Honokaa Schools Hawaiian Studies under kumu Lanakila Manguail; Halau Na Lei Punahele under kumu Punahele Andrade; and two Honokaa kapunas dancing solo.
According to Mahealani Maikui, co-director, the youth center is vital part of afterschool life for students of all ages.
“A good cause for the youth center is we are the only ones like it around here,” Mahealani said.
The youth center has been operating since 2009 independently and under the YWCA for 14 years previously. About 30 students a day visit the center for recreation, for tutoring and for a nutritious after school snack. The center stresses Hawaiian values, leadership training and environment stewardship. In addition to after school activities, the center also has summer programs and occasional weekend activities.
“Our kids are going to be ushers and ticket takers and showcase their talent,” said Mahealani.
She said that the program would feature hula and music for families to enjoy.
“We are going to do ho ike style,” Mahealani said. “Instead of having different groups at different times, we are going to have a certain group every half hour.”
Haleakala Sakata, whose halau “Helelei Pua O Waipio” has been in Honokaa for 21 years, said it is significant for them to participate in community events in their area.
“We are excited,” Sakata said. “This is our town and we want to make sure we are part of it. It is important for all of us.”
Sakata said that she plans to bring 22 dancers with her, including LeAnn and Onolani DeMello. The mother and daughter have been with her since the halau began. At the festival, Onolani will be dancing to “Ka lehua Ula” and Le’Ann will be dancing with the kapuna division.
“They are just beautiful, elegant, graceful hula dancers,” Sakata said. “They exemplify the beauty of hula.”
Sakata said she is also glad to be helping out the Hamakua Youth Center.
“That program is for our children in our community, so it is important to me to help out and to make sure we have a place for our kids to go,” Sakata said. “I believe that the Hamakua Youth Center has a lot to give.”
Tickets can be purchased at the Hamakua Youth Center, Jolene’s Kaukau Korner in Waipio, Waimea Coffee Company, Waimea Music Exchange and Malama Market in Honkaa, and at the Hamakua People’s Theatre box office on the night of the event. Tickets are $20 per person, $10 for youth 17 years old and under and free for children five years old and under. For more information, call the HYC at 775-0976 or email [email protected].