KAPA‘A — Tepairu Manea has a lot of dreams for the heiva.
Sitting behind an assortment of Tahitian drums he created, the overall coordinator of the 2008 Heiva i Kaua‘i Ia Orana Tahiti said that eventually he’d like to see more dancers learn the art to carry on for the next generation.
The 2008 Heiva i Kaua‘i Ia Orana Tahiti opened to a steady stream of people yesterday, despite a group of 45 from Tahiti not being able to attend this year’s event.
“The leader of the group called me after he had a stroke,” Manea said. “He could still talk, but he was down because earlier they lost two of their grandchildren in an accident.”
Manea said he just told them that this was a time to take care of health and family, and there will be more events coming.
The cultural event started seven years ago when Manea opened up the Kapa‘a Beach Park through the help of the county of Kaua‘i and several community sponsors.
This year the event is sponsored by the county, the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, Hilo Hattie’s, the Rotary Club of Kapa‘a, Big Save, Kaua‘i Nursery and Landscaping and Summers Realty.
In addition to two large tents set up on both sides of a competition arena, Manea said there are five tents housing the sold-out field of crafters, a cultural tent and a food tent.
Dr. Kani Blackwell was one of the vendors yesterday.
“I just learned how to do the lei and have them in all the colors of all the schools on the island,” Blackwell, the elementary cohort coordinator for teacher education on Kaua‘i, said. “This is the first time I’ve brought them out for the public.”
Blackwell, a staunch supporter of keeping Kaua‘i’s residents home while earning their teaching certification, said with the tightening economy and people’s need to find more resources to keep their families intact, she will pledge the proceeds from her newly acquired crafting to help Grow Our Own Teachers.
While yesterday’s competition involved the performances of junior and senior tane and vahine dancers in Tahitian dance, today’s scheduling will have an assortment of exhibition performances by various halau, including Rohotu under kumu hula Wallis Punua and Halau Hula o Leilani under kumu hula Leilani Bond. A special presentation by Tamarii a Hiva will round out the exhibitions. The dance-off for both the junior and senior divisions will also be on the agenda.
A variety of workshops ranging from specific Tahitian dance categories like otea and aparima as well as drumming workshops and choreography for group leaders and advanced dancers punctuated the weekend’s offerings.
Today’s programming starts at 11 a.m. and runs through the 5:30 p.m. closing ceremonies.