Emalani Festival set for Saturday

Puamohala Kaholokula will represent the queen at the 23rd annual Eo e Emalani i Alaka‘i Festival this weekend at Koke‘e State Park.

The festival starts with music at 10 a.m., Saturday, a news release states.

When Nick Castillo’s haunting falsetto greets Queen Emma with his original composition “Wahine U‘i,” it will be Kaholokula entering Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow on horseback representing the queen. 

In an afternoon ceremony at the historic Kruse House in Waimea Plantation Cottages in August, Puamohala of Kapa‘a accepted the role of representing Queen Emma at the 2011 Festival and has been preparing for the occasion ever since, the release states.

Escorted that day in August by her father Michael Vidinha, she was greeted with a chant composed for the occasion by A‘ia‘i Bello, and welcomed by Hui o Laka executive director Marsha Erickson and board member Wailana Kuapahi.

A 1979 graduate of Waimea High School, Puamohala is a noted dancer performing alongside her musician husband Robbie Kaholokula, mother of two, and a kumu hula.

Her Halau Mohala O Ka Pua Hau Hele, (the bud of the crawling hau), was named by her father-in-law, James Kalei Kaholokula, a famed haku mele. Pua acknowledges the roll that her own kumu, Roselle Keliihonipua Bailey, played in her life of devotion to Hawaiian culture.

“Mrs. Bailey taught us that hula was much more than coming to class and learning motions to songs or ancient chants. Hula is a way of life, a study in a culture and a proper respect thereof,” she said.

Puamohala is the 21st woman to take on the mantle of representing Hawai‘i’s beloved Queen Emma at the festival. Led off by Maile Amorin in 1990, and including Sabra Kauka, Doreen Nunes, Lisa Pai, Gwen Balino, Carla Contrades-Barrett, Olana Flores, Valarie Medina, Hanakia Tui, Casina Waterman, Sharon Balidoy, Manulele Clark, Kawailana Mata, Meleana Manuel, Debi Ruiz, Kuuipo Kalima, Robyn Knuebuhl, Shantel Santiage, Wailana Kuapahi, and Hi‘ipoi Kanahele.

“Taking on this roll is an important moment in the lives of the women who have graciously accepted the call,” Erickson said in the release. “In recognition of their great gift of recalling the spirit of the Queen, they are all life-time members of Hui o Laka in a category all their own: Kalehuamakanoe, referring to the ‘misty eyed lehua’ in the Alaka‘i.”

The Emalani Festival begins several hours prior to the Queen’s entrance, with music beginning at 10 a.m. In addition to Nick Castillo and Friends, David Kaua‘i and Friends and Ukulele Na Haumana O Namolokama will return to support the event.

The commemorative historical event is being sponsored for the 23rd year by Hui o Laka, the non-profit that has operated Koke‘e Museum since 1953 and which supports volunteerism in the parks, the release states. Sometimes called just The Emalani Festival, it is sponsored annually in Koke‘e State Park in cooperation with DLNR-State Parks Division, and enjoys the support of hundreds of volunteers, local businesses, and HTA-County of Kaua‘i.

For information about volunteering or attending the event, call Koke‘e Museum at 335-9975, ext. 0.

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