Poetry in Motion

©Moanalua Gardens Foundation

Hula’s evolution as a storytelling art has survived for centuries, thanks in part to Prince Lot Kapuāiwa who revived the once-forbidden art in the ahupua‘a (district) of Moanalua in the late 1800s. In a fitting tribute 39 years ago, the Moanalua Garden Foundation (MGF) established what would become the largest and oldest non-competitive hula festival in the state. This year, more than 20 hālau are expected to participate in the 40th Annual Prince Lot Hula Festival on the historical grounds of ‘Iolani Palace, Saturday, July 15, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, July 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“When we do the hula, we are using our bodies, our feet, our faces, our hands; we are using our minds,” says kumu hula Puake‘ala Mann. “We’re helping to tell our stories in the simplest way possible.”

Themed “Laukanaka Ka Hula…Throngs of Hula People Gather,” the festival reflects Moanalua Garden Foundation’s commitment throughout the years to perpetuate the traditional oli (chants) and hula of Kamananui (Moanalua). The festival, though, will change venue, moving from Moanalua Gardens to ‘Iolani Palace.

“We can’t think of a better place than ‘Iolani Palace to showcase two days of great hula performed by some of Hawai‘i’s premier hālau hula,” says Alika Jamile, MGF executive director and president.  “We invite the entire community to join us for this first ever celebration of the Prince Lot Hula Festival at the palace.”

This year MGF will honor noted chanter Cy Bridges with its inaugural Namakahelu Oli Award.  The foundation’s highest honor given only once every five years, the Kukui o Lota Award, will go to three outstanding individuals for their service to our community, Senator Daniel K. Akaka, Charles M. Cooke, IV and Kumu Hula Vicky Holt Takamine.  Leimomi I Maldonado and her brother Milton I will receive MGF’s fourth annual Malia Kau Award given solely to Kumu Hula who have advanced our hula traditions and supported the Prince Lot Hula Festival. 

“Hula is for everyone,” Mann says. “All we need to do is to take care of it.”

The festival will include an impressive lineup of premier hālau hula who will perform both kāhiko (ancient) and ‘auana (contemporary) hula. Food and beverages will be available for sale. A limited edition T-shirt will also be available. Admission is free, however, attendees are encouraged to buy a souvenir button to help support the festival.

For more information about MGF, please visit moanaluagardensfoundation.org or call 808.839.5334.

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