Mokihana Festival a cultural treasure

LIHUE — Malie Foundation presents the 33rd annual Kauai Mokihana Festival starting this weekend. The theme, “Na Mo‘omeheu o Hawai‘i Nei,” celebrates a year of cultures of Hawaii.

The week-long celebration will feature original music and hula competitions, which last year attracted more than 500 people.

“We changed our venue to the Kauai Memorial this year, so we can accommodate more people,” said Maka Herrod, executive director of Malie Foundation. “This is our first time at the convention hall for the three-day hula competition.”

The Mokihana Festival schedule kicks off at the 10 a.m. Sunday service at the historic Kapaa First Hawaiian Church, founded in 1879. On Monday, the historic Waimea Theatre will host the popular Kauai Composer’s Contest and Concert beginning at 7 p.m. The competition is open exclusively to Kauai composers of new original music and judged on merit by a panel of qualified judges and audience votes.

“This year, our challenge for composers was trying to get these talented individuals to come out and share what they’ve written,” Herrod said. “A lot of them compose, but the other piece is to put it together to music and bring musicians together.”

Started in 1984, the festival began as the first Kauai Composers Contest and Concert, thanks to a grant from Hasegawa Komuten, developers of what are now the Kauai Beach Resort and Kauai Beach Villas outside Hanamaulu.

The foundation started by Herrod’s uncle, Nathan Kalama, was named for his band, the musical trio Malie. Its mission is to provide events that educate, promote, preserve and perpetuate Hawaiian culture through music, hula and language.

They developed a scholarship program to help children attend Hawaiian language immersion schools, and have expanded to include other categories.

“Whatever programs and projects that we do throughout the year benefit the scholarship program, as well as put in place more programs so we can educate the community,” Herrod said.

Tuesday’s presentation, “Maori, the Indigenous People of Aotearoa,” will demonstrate Maori song, dance, food and customs, at 5 p.m. in Anahola at Kanuikapono Public Charter School. Earlier in the day, the “Eo, E Lili‘u” Children’s/Youth Music Competition takes place at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall starting at 9 a.m.

On Wednesday, Lihue’s Ho‘ola Lahui Fitness Center will present the “Ka Mea ‘Ai Pono” for ethnic healthy living at 6:30 p.m. to promote dietary and lifestyle changes for better health.

The Food & Craft Fair will be at Kauai War Memorial Sept. 28-30, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Highlights include the Solo/Group Kahiko Nei Hula Competition, Na Lei Pua ‘Ole Flowerless Lei Contest and Group and Solo Auana Hula Competition.

“This year’s theme is the cultures of Hawaii, so not only Hawaiian but all the cultures that make up who we are and who we’ve become,” Herrod said.

Fair admission for a single day is $20 in advance, while the Mokihana Pass costs $75 for admission to all events. Tickets are available at Vicky’s Fabrics, Scotty’s Music and Kauai Music & Sound, or by calling 652-4497.

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