KAPAA — Preston Ikehara-Yasay of Ori Uvira had never performed before an audience as large as at the Heiva i Kauai ia Orana Tahiti.
“Yeah, it was nervous at first,” Ikehara-Yasay said. “But once things started going, you pick up the feeling, or manao, from the audience and you use it to your own advantage.”
Ikehara-Yasay was an example of why the heiva, celebrating its 14th year, is presented, said Jo Manea, one of the heiva organizers, on Sunday during the final day of the two-day celebration of Polynesia.
“Nicholas Kaneakua, the leader of Ori Uvira, is a great example of why the heiva is held,” Manea said. “Nick was an award winner of a previous heiva, and now, brings his younger people to learn. The heiva provides a venue for the next generation of dancers to show what they’ve achieved and learn more about not just Hawaii, but Tahiti and the other Pacific Island cultures.”
Hundreds of people poured through the gates to take in the final day. The event featured more than four dozen crafters, many offering Pacific Island crafts alongside Kauai items, as well as food and cultural demonstrations. The highlight was the competition, which centered around drumming and groups.
“The theme is fire, and Pele was born in Tahiti,” said Tiffany Dela Cruz, the leader of Merahi Productions, a group based in Hilo. “That forms the basis of our otea and aparima presentations. Can you see the story in the dance?”
The competition among dancers was waged Saturday as Kauai dancers melded with dancers from Maui, Oahu and the Big Island for honors in the different age groups for both vahine and tane.
Sunday’s competition moved to groups vying for honors in otea, aparima and ahupurotu, while the drumming ensembles competed for drumming honors.
“We’re here to support my daughter who dances with Tava Nui of Maui,” said Nora Bantilan of Maui. “Dolores Gascon, she’s my mom, is from Honolulu, and I’m from Maui — we’re both here supporting my daughter.”
The Heiva i Kauai ia Orana Tahiti is sponsored by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the County of Kauai and Geico Insurance.
Full results of the solo and group competitions will appear in a future issue of The Garden Island.