Beloved kumu hula retiring

One of Kaua‘i’s most beloved and respected na kumu hula (hula teachers) will retire at the end of February after 31 years of teaching.

Auntie Nani Higa began Halau Hula O Nani, The House of Beautiful Dancing in 1976 in the garage of her home in ‘Oma‘o. She taught hula to the neighborhood kids and their friends. As the number of students increased, the halau flourished.

In 1983 the Higas moved to Washington. Higa shared her hula there for 11 years. In 1994 she returned to the Garden Island where she and her husband Paul have lived ever since.

Higa began teaching hula and Hawaiian culture to students who range in age from three to seventy. She has been a positive influence on all. Higa travels to Hilo regularly to continue her Hawaiian studies.

When Paul Higa retired in 1999 he built the Halau Hula O Nani. The halau has been blessed with many guest na kumu hula, as well as hula workshops for students from Japan, Germany, Canada and California.

“Auntie Nani is a rare blossom among kumu hula” says Auntie Kapu of Hanapepe, a kumu hula herself. “She touches on all aspects of the Hawaiian hula culture in her teaching and truly loves every individual student.”

Lyle Kobashigawa, father of two students in the halau, admires Auntie Nani’s polite, caring approach to the youngsters she teaches. “She is patient and kind while teaching so the kids learn a lot.” Auntie’s school of hula comes from: Uncle John Piilani Watkins (Auntie’s first kumu hula); Auntie Lalani Sharp; Auntie Edith Kanakaole; Auntie Lovely Apana; Uncle Willie Pulava; Uncle Kaleo Beck; Uncle Keia Cordeo; Uncle John Lake.

These na kumu hula have inspired her and she has extended their teachings throughout her hula career.

Higa thanks her hula brother, Uncle Nathan Kalama and her hula sister Auntie Kapu for their wonderful support here on Kaua‘i.

Higa and her husband have built a loving marriage and a successful hula halau. They continue to be active contributors to the Kaua‘i community.

This is not the end; traditions of hula continue to be passed from generation to generation. Her students embrace the many gifts she has bestowed upon them and they look forward to sharing those gifts with others. Hula lives forever in the spirit of all those who are Hawaiian at heart.

The final ho‘ike of Halau Hula O Nani will be at the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Lawa‘i at 1 p.m., Feb. 23 followed by a picnic at Salt Pond Beach.


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