Kaua‘i halau earns awards at Maori competition

Kaua‘i residents and visitors will have an opportunity to view the award-winning performances of Te Manawa ‘O Atooi at a free presentation Nov. 17 at the Kukui Grove Shopping Center.

Under the direction of Kapu Kinimaka-Alquiza and Keala Senkus, the halau recently wrapped up three months of extensive study of its Polynesian cousins of Aotearoa, New Zealand.

The students’ achievements were demonstrated when the halau earned more than 20 awards at the Polynesian Cultural Center “Te Whanaketanga” Junior and Intermediate Whakataetae Maori Competition, recently.

Kinimaka-Alquiza said the Kaua‘i-based halau had the help of Maori tutor John “Hone” Bailey of New Zealand as it prepared for the recent competition.

In an e-mail, Kinimaka-Alquiza said the project took up most of the students’ summer vacation and was started when several of the halau dancers, ranging in ages from 6 through 18 years old, expressed an interest in learing the Maori customs, chants, dance and more.

“The experience was well worth sacrificing their summer months,” Alquiza-Kinimaka said. “Some of the more than hundred dancers, musicians and parents said they would like to do this again.”

The group put their learning to the test when they took part in the Maori competition at the Polynesian Cultural Center where they finished with more than 20 awards.

“What a wonderful opportunity and great experience it was for me to see how these dancers, whose primary dance is hula, embraced all that is Maori in those few months,” Alquiza-Kinimaka said. “After it was all over, some dancers even claim to ‘wanna be’ Maori and have converted their personal belongings into Maori.”

Kinimaka-Alquiza said having the opportunity to learn other Polynesian cultures is a rewarding experience for dancers of all ages.

She said in August 2008, the Polynesian Cultural Center will offer its “Te Whanaketanga” competition, and in addition to the Junior and Intermediate divisions, will be adding a Senior category for dancers 19 years and older.

At the recent competition, Kinimaka-Alquiza said the following dancers earned awards.

In the Juniors division, Kameamakamae Palama Alquiza, Kawika Joyce and Kaiolohia Perreira Alquiza placed in the Keiki Kane division.

Makanoe Ni‘i, Makale’a Yoshida, Madison Lopez, Mahina Tangonan, Kalei Estrada, Ashley Manguchei, Taylor Sagucio, Sandie Nonaka, Mahina Henriques, Kelly Meatoga, Tawehi Tafiti, Bond Anderson, Meigan Barretto and Tiala O’Brian were award winners in the kaikamahine category in the Juniors Division.

In the Intermediate division, Kelsey Hesapene, Kekoa Shimatsu and Juna Hesapene placed in the kane category. Taelyn Tangonan, Aimee Sato, Ashley Miyashiro, Monica Alayvilla, Keahi Celebrado, Stephanie Rudolph, Kayla Cadavona, Tori Kobayashi, Elshae Tanimoto, Britney Ishibashi, Krystin Ishibashi and Moana Henriques earned awards in the wahine category.

Musician award winners include Auntie Maha Leoiki and Uncle Ben Nakaahiki.

Te Manawa ‘O Atooi will present its Maori performance starting at 11 a.m. at the Kukui Grove center stage.

Kinimaka-Alquiza said the program will start with a variety of Polynesian dances and conclude with the halau’s Maori dance preentation.

In addition to the Kukui Grove performance, Kinimaka-Alquiza invites the public to the halau’s 21st annual “Holiday Hula Celebration” which will take place at the Kaua‘i Marriott Beach Resort on Dec. 16 starting at 6 p.m.

Kinimaka-Alquiza said the annual celebration features an evening of hula, chant, dance and festive holiday tunes from members of the halau.

“If the children behave, Santa Claus may just stop by with some goodies for the keiki,” she said.

Advance tickets for the Holiday Hula program are available for $10. Tickets are $12 at the door.

For more information, call Kinimaka-Alquiza at 335-6466.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photo-grapher and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com.


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