Hula teacher plans construction on Maui school for next year

WAILUKU — A hula teacher says he hopes to begin building a permanent home for his school on Maui next year.

Keali’i Reichel is fundraising and collecting building permits for the planned 6,000-square-foot (557-square-meter), two-story building to house his halau, which is the Hawaiian word for hula school or hula academy, The Maui News reported Tuesday.

Reichel is a singer, songwriter and kumu hula, meaning hula master or teacher. He is planning to raise $2.5 million for the new home for Halau Ke’alaokamaile. The building is planned to be constructed in Piiholo on land set aside by Hokunui Maui, a land management group.

“Most of us halaus are kind of nomadic,” Reichel said Monday during a talk with the Rotary Club of Kahului. “We utilize gyms, we utilize garages, we utilize pole-dancing studios… Thanks to Hokunui, for the first time a halau on this island will be able to plug into the earth and have a space that we can call our own.”

With the donation of 4 acres (1.6 hectares) of land and a $240,000 grant from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the long-envisioned permanent home for the halau is closer to becoming a reality.

The bottom floor of the building will include a resource center, classroom and kitchen for processing harvested plants, Reichel said. The top floor will be a sacred dance floor, which can only be entered using a special protocol and chant.

Puna Krauss, Reichel’s husband, oversees the project’s grants. About $400,000 has already been raised, he said, so work could begin in early spring.

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Information from: The Maui News, http://www.mauinews.com

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