LIHUE — There were lei everywhere as performers with Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala entertained and greeted passengers from Island Air, Flight 109 from Honolulu Tuesday.
But amidst the strands of fragrant plumeria and colorful orchids, there were no lehua blossoms.
“We need the lehua mamo, or yellow lehua,” said Kumu Hula Leina‘ala Pavao Jardin of the hula halau. “Brylynn Aiwohi of Kapaa is our contestant for this year’s Miss Aloha Hula at the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival. In her study leading to her performance, she worked on her geneology and the lehua mamo is an integral part of that.”
The halau is leaving early March 30 for the prestigious hula festival and competition, and Pavao Jardin said they need help from Kauai residents who may have a tree or two on their property.
“If they call me at 639-9033, we can arrange to pick the blossoms,” Pavao Jardin said. “We need to pick them because the lei will be made in a manner that we need to pluck the lehua. We will pick up the flowers on March 29 and make the lei that night before we leave on March 30.”
Under normal circumstances, there would not be a plea for help, the kumu hula said.
In January, the state discovered Rapid Ohia Death, a disease which is killing off lehua trees on the Big Island.
Gathering liko, or the new leaves of the ohia tree, has been a tradition and is an integral part of some hula, Sam Ohu Gon III, a hula and cultural practitioner, told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.
“This year, more than ever, the danger is in bringing the virus back to their own island,” Gon said. “It would be an ecological revolution if ohia were to disappear from the landscape.”
“We are not going down there to harvest,” Pavao Jardin ssaid. “We are bringing our own lei. We need people’s help to do that.”