Heiva i Kaua‘i honors children, culture

KAPA‘A — The group dance and Tahitian drumming competitions are on the agenda today for the 10th annual Heiva i Kaua‘i at Kapa‘a Beach Park.

The two-day celebration opened to a steady stream of festival goers Saturday with the highlight being the solo dance competition.

“We have one more day and already attendance is up by at least 25 percent over last year,” said Ray Carpenter, a Heiva leader, who was checking on the status of the dance arena set up in front of the county’s portable stage. “This has been a good event.”

Pat Finberg, who served on the planning committee, said the dream for Heiva is to perpetuate the Tahitian culture through educating and inspiring interest in learning Tahitian dance and drumming.

The committee selected the tiare, a Tahitian gardenia, as the flower of this year’s event; it represents the children.

Meet some of the new drummers

Te Ui Api is from Honolulu and received its name by Teheiura Itchener. The group is comprised of nine boys, ages 11 to 16, who meet from 1 to 3 p.m. to learn blowing the conch shell, play ‘ukulele, beat the ipu and dance hula.

They acquired an interest in Tahitian drumming and were taught pahae by a Tahitian tupuna who encouraged them to pursue their interest in the Tahitian culture.

The boys of Te Ui Api entered this year’s Heiva after visiting Kaua‘i last year and being inspired by all the performers at the event.

Kalau Crisostomo, 16, is the lead toere and pahu. He is joined by ‘Iwaikalani Yap, 12, on toere; Brant Cruz, 16, on toere piti; Keali‘i Morimoto, 16, on fa‘atete; and Kekoa Kintz, 13, also on fa‘atete.

Kintz’s fa‘atete was presented to his dad more than 40 years ago from his grandfather. Kintz received the fa‘atete when he acquired the interest in Tahitian drumming and re-laced its skin with help from his brother.

Hulali Kiyoko Rivera, a young infant who was diagnosed with tumors necessitating treatment in California since April, returned home to join her family in operating the food booth whose proceeds help her with the medical expenses incurred for the treatments.

In addition to the competitive events, the Heiva i Kaua‘i offers a cultural tent featuring artisans from Tahiti and Kaua‘i as well as a tent filled with vendors, many coming from off-island to offer items and crafts of Hawai‘i and Tahiti.

Today’s schedule includes Tahitian group competition in aparima, otea/aparima and ahuroa in addition to Tahitian drumming. A silent auction, coconut husking and grating contest as well as an exhibition Samoan fire-knife dancing by the Michael Drake family round out the offerings.

Gates to the final day of the Heiva open at 9 a.m. There is an admission fee of $5; children 6 and under are free.

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