Piʻikea Lopes wins 2022 Miss Aloha Hula title, ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi award at Merrie Monarch Festival
Pi‘ikea Kekīhenelehuawewehiikekau‘ōnohi Lopes of Ka Lā ‘Ōnohi Mai O Ha‘eha‘e was named Miss Aloha Hula 2022 at the 59th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival on Thursday night at the Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium in Hilo, Hawaiʻi.
Lopes, who is both a haumana (student) and daughter to Nā Kumu Hula Tracie & Keawe Lopes, accepted her honor, paying tribute to both her family and the Hawaiian language in the process.
Her hula kahiko, “No Puna Ke Āiwaiwa Hikina” honored her mother’s hula lineage, paying respect to the Puna district on Hawaiʻi Island. The festival program notes that the composer, Lolokū, “encourages us to continue to cherish and hold fast to those traditional references in our mele and moʻolelo that continue to help us make sense of and navigate our present.”
She performed “Pua Be-Still” for her ʻauana selection, a mele hoʻoheno or “song of deep affection,” that honored her father’s side of the family and the area of Kohala. The song “encourages us always to take time to reflect and cherish the memories of home,” according to the festival program.
Upon recognition, Piʻikea knelt on stage and delivered an oli (chant) paying respect to Puna–the same chant that she delivered in her kahiko, to honor and acknowledge those who came before.
She also was honored with the Festival’s Hawaiian Language award, earning a perfect score of 50 points. In an interview with Hawaiʻi News Now’s Keahi Tucker, Piʻikea said she was fortunate to receive the distinction.
“Oia ka ʻōlelo ko kahu poe kupuna. Oia ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi nei. Oia kou ka ʻōlelo. E ola mau ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi,” she said as she responded to all questions in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi in the live televised broadcast and stream on KFVE/Hawaii News Now. Loosely translated, she said, “That is the language of the guardians, of the ancestors. That is the Hawaiian language. That is your language. The Hawaiian language shall live forever.”
In response to a question about living and speaking the Hawaiian language, she said that in order to teach our children, in order to live and revive the language, we must continue to speak it.
Awards were issued to five hula soloists including:
- Pi‘ikea Kekīhenelehuawewehiikekau‘ōnohi Lopes – Nā Kumu Hula Tracie & Keawe Lopes (1168) 1st place / ʻOlelo award
- Auliʻionāpualokekūonaona Jon-Marie Hisayo Faurot – Nā Kumu Hula Kunewa Mook & Kau‘ionālani Kamana‘o (1105) 2nd place / 1st runner up
- Marina Laʻakea Choi – Nā Kumu Hula Robert Ke‘ano Ka‘upu IV & Lono Padilla (1097) 3rd place / 2nd runner up
- Manaia Kawaipuamakanakauʻikawēkiumekanoeuʻiokeolamaikalaniākea Dalire Moe – Kumu Hula Kapua Dalire-Moe (1095) 4th place / 3rd runner up
- Kyleigh Hōkūao Manuel-Sagon – Nā Kumu Hula Haunani & ‘Iliahi Paredes from Maui (1094) 5th place / 4th runner up
This is the second year in a row that the hālau from Pūʻahuʻula, Koʻolaupoko, Oʻahu took top honors in the soloist competition. Last year, Rosemary Kaʻimilei Keamoai-Strickland, also of Ka Lā ‘Ōnohi Mai O Ha‘eha‘e, won the 2021 title.
On Thursday night, Keamoai-Strickland performed a final hula of her reign as judges were tabulating scores for this year’s event. She danced a hula in honor of her Tūtū Laulena, and was backed up by her hula sisters who accompanied her onstage.
Maui has two hālau and soloists competing this year:
Kyleigh Hōkūao Manuel-Sagon was the Miss Aloha Hula contestant from Hālau Kekuaokalā‘au‘ala‘iliahi, under the direction of Nā Kumu Hula Haunani and ʻIliahi Paredes out of Wailuku, Maui.
She performed “Neʻeneʻe Mai ʻO Kaʻula,” as her kahiko selection–a mele composed for Prince David Kawānanakoa by Kauaʻi poet Nahinu. According the festival program, kumu ʻIliahi and Haunani Paredes learned this hula from Aunty Pat Namaka Bacon in 2009.
Her hula ʻauana, entitled “Aia Ka Nani I Hānaulā,” was composed by Kumu ʻIliahi Paredes, as a mele inoa, in honor of Aunty Puanani Lindsey of Maui. Lindsey is described as a “stalwart leader of Maui Cultural Lands,” a grassroots land trust that has worked to protect and restore cultural resources in the area of Hānaulā, above Māʻalaea.
“Our hālau has had the honor and privilege to work with them and really mālama ʻāina,” said Manuel-Sagon in a Festival broadcast. “Aunty Puanani–she is very giving, not just to our hālau, but to a lot of people in our community. She gets us to our community service and teaches us lessons about our one on Maui, more particularly Hānaulā, which is one of the areas that we take care of in the West Maui Mountains.”
Riann Nālani Michiko Fujihara was the Miss Aloha Hula entrant from Hālau o Ka Hanu Lehua, under the direction of Kumu Hula Kamaka Kukona from Waikapū.
Fujihara performed “Kaulilua I Ke Anu O Waiʻaleʻale,” a lament, and mele pahu, or drum chant. According to the Festival program, the mele tells of the cold rain and fog of Waiʻaleʻale’s summit that “bruise the plants and flowers that grow there.”
Fujihara’s ʻauana was composed by Kumu Kamaka Kukona, in 2016, in acknowledgement of a “beloved sweetheart.” According to the festival program, the mele speaks of the Lawe Maile wind that cast a spell on the loved ones, and was inspired by the beauty at the foothills of the West Maui Mountains.
Other soloists competing this year were:
- Hiʻilei Lanikauakapukapuokeānuenue Puchalski – Kumu Hula Keli‘iho‘omalu Puchalski
- Shyla Hehāliʻalohapūlamakeolalani Victor – Kumu Hula Kenneth Dean Alohapumehanaokalā Victor
- Moanikeʻala Fia Silva – Kumu Hula Chinky Māhoe
- Renee Maile Eveliga Kaikaina Tataipu – Kumu Hula Shelsea Lilia Ai
- Riann Nālani Michiko Fujihara – Kumu Hula Kamaka Kukona
Two More Nights of Hula:
In addition tot he 10 Miss Aloha Hula entrants, there are a total of 18 hālau participating that will present 17 wahine and seven kāne performances in both the kahiko and ʻauana categories.
Two Maui hālau hula are competing in this year’s Merrie Monarch Festival as the event takes place with modifications in Hilo at the Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium. Competition continues with the kahiko, or ancient hula group competition on Friday night, April 22; and the ʻauana or modern hula group competition on Saturday night, April 23, 2022.
The Maui hālau will appear during the second half of the program on both Friday and Saturday night. The women of Hālau o Ka Hanu Lehua are 14th in the line-up, followed by the men of Hālau Kekuaokalā‘au‘ala‘iliahi at No. 15. The women of Hālau Kekuaokalā‘au‘ala‘iliahi will perform second to last, in the No. 23 slot on both nights.
TV viewing and streaming available:
Video of each performance is available here.
Watch the 59th Annual Merrie Monarch Hula Competition on https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/merriemonarch/ or by clicking the Merrie Monarch icon on the Hawaiʻi News Now app each night beginning at 6 p.m. HST on April 21-23, 2022.
For a weekly listing of Maui music and other events, go to Maui Entertainment, Arts, Community, April 20-27 and click here.