Were the people excited about the Niihau shell lei, or were they excited that Jason Momoa was wearing the lei, Saturday at the Heiva I Kauai?
“I didn’t know he was coming,” said Pat Finberg, one of the Heiva organizers. “I saw this crowd develop and when I looked, it was Jason talking with Kanani Beniamina. I think he might have gotten a Niihau shell lei. This is the second straight year he’s come to the Heiva.”
Momoa’s appearance coincided with the break between the solo dance junior division and the solo dance senior division, so did little to distract from the arena action. Instead, it allowed people standing in line for lunch and snacks a pleasant diversion in the humid heat at Kapaa Beach Park as the “Aquaman” character obliged fans with an opportunity for photos.
The opening day of the Heiva I Kauai got its share of excitement from the group competition doing its ahupurotu, or the Tahitian version of the long-gown group presentations and the soloists in both tane and vahine in the junior and senior divisions.
Patrons browsed through rows of vendors displaying a variety of local products ranging from jewelry to clothing, including commemorative T-shirts, and a vendor with Tahitian wear that attracted a halau from California.
“I’m originally from Taiwan,” said Wennifer Lin Haver, whose daughter was registered for a soloist presentation. “We live in California now, and the Stenseng family, they’re originally from the Philippines.”
More action continues today starting at 10 a.m. when emcee Cathy Teri‘ipaia offers an opening prayer and the introduction of Ra‘atira and the groups that will be doing exhibition presentations.
Otea and aparima in both the junior and senior division as well as the drumming will fill the day.