O‘ahu, Big Island competitors take home big honors

LIHU‘E — Groups from O‘ahu and the Big Island earned top honors at the Kaua‘i Polynesian Festival, wrapping up three days of intense competition Sunday.

Mele Kodama of Here Tama Nui from Waipahu, O‘ahu, and Tane Fernandez of Hei Tiare from the Big Island earned the coveted 2006 Vahine Polynesia and 2006 Tane Polynesia awards, respectively.

“I would like to commend all dance competitors who participated this year,” said KPF director Kapu Kinimaka-Alquiza. “They dazzled us with their skill and creativity.”

Here Tama Nui, topping the Otea group competition Saturday night, went on to earn the Best Overall Tahitian Group as well.

Kodama and Fernandez won their titles after going up against the first- place finishers in the seniors, Ages 13 and Over, Tahitian Ori (solo) winners.

The three-day event, held at the North Vidinha soccer fields, offered patrons a variety of shopping from various Pacific Island vendors as well as O‘ahu, Maui, the Big Island and Kaua‘i. Additionally, a wide range of food from Hawai‘i and the Pacific was available between the workshops and competitions.

The three-day festival kicked off with a dinner celebration Thursday night at the Sheraton Kauai. Sponsors included B&B Tahitian Pearls, the County of Kaua‘i, Dollar Rent A Car, Hawaiian Airlines, Hawaii Tourism Authority, Hawaii Visitors Bureau, Hilo Hattie, Kauai Beach Hotel and Resort, Lomi Records, the Polynesian Cultural Center, Sheraton Kauai, The JK Show and Wala‘au.

Kamanawa Foundation, who hosted the gala, was established in 1994 with a mission to preserve, promote and perpetuate the Native Hawaiian culture, including language, social values, arts, crafts and music. The nonprofit organization hosts three annual events that highlight hula and the Polynesian performing arts, including the Kaua‘i Polynesian Festival, the Holiday Hula Celebration and the Kaua‘i Hula Exhibition.

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