On 17 June, Alaka’i Kapuananiokekukui Namiko was part of a small delegation representing Hālau Ka Lei Kukui Hi’ilani at the 5th Ka ʻAha Hula ʻO Hālauaola Hula Conference. Although she was not among the few who were an actual part of the event’s ceremonial opening, it was a great eye-opener and a fantastic learning experience — especially since Kumu Lei was there to provide educational commentary.
This year’s conference runs from 14 to 23 June and expects a total of around 1,200 participants from across the Hawaiian islands and around the world. As in previous iterations of Ka ʻAha Hula ʻO Hālauaola, they will be learning from and studying with various hula masters and experts in high-level workshops, presentations, and related activities, which include huaka’i (excursions/visits) to sacred sites and historically or culturally important places in every district on Hawai’i.
According to a short presentation by Dr M. Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, executive director of the Lālākea Foundation, in the prelude of a video of the above-mentioned Opening Ceremony:
The Conference is a project of the Lālākea Foundation, which itself is a Hilo-based non-profit organisation comprising kumu hula from across the five ‘āina (Hawaiian islands); its purpose is to perpetuate Hawaiian cultural practices, in particular hula, oli, and their attendant arts. It was the brainchild of Dr Pualani Kanaka’ole Kanahele and her sister No’elani Kanaka’ole. Following the path of Hi’iaka in the mo’olelo (legend) of Hi’iaka and Pele, the Conference’s iterations have been: 2001 — Hawai’i; 2005 — Maui; 2009 — O’ahu; 2014 — Kaua’i; 2018 — Hawai’i. This is likely to be last time the Conference will be held in this current form and format.