Kahaunaele nominated for 10 Na Hoku awards

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island file

    Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner Kainani Kahaunaele comes to talk and teach haku mele during the second installment of Kaua‘i Ocean Fest at the Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery center at Kukui Grove Center in Lihu‘e last year.

LIHU‘E — The list of finalists is out, and five-time Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner and Anahola native Kainani Kahaunaele, 45, has been nominated 10 times for the honors, with a September ceremony planned.

But she also wanted to recognize other nominated Kaua‘i artists.

“There is a lot of Kaua‘i presence in the final ballot of the prestigious 2021 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards,” Kahaunaele said. “On the Northside of Kaua‘i is Lihau Paik. Representing the Eastside are Kainani Kahaunaele and Bronson ‘Aiwohi, and on the Westside are Cindy Combs and Stacie Ku‘ulei Taniguchi.”

Kahaunaele moved to Hilo to further her students at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo in 1993. She currently teaches Hawaiian language, Hawaiian music and Hawaiian literature at UH-Hilo. She is also a professional musician whose platforms are Hawaiian music and Hawaiian language.

“The wisdom and knowledge of many aspects of our Hawaiian culture are found in the songs and in the chants,” Kahaunaele said.

“And so I would wish for our Kaua‘i community or Hawaiian community to further appreciate Hawaiian music and to incorporate more Hawaiian music into their day, and to know that Hawaiian music is the music of this land.”

Although Kahaunaele is honored to have been nominated for 10 awards, she feels differently about it.

“I feel a sense of responsibility to do excellent,” Kahaunaele said. “Yes, I’m thrilled. But there is an element of responsibility. I’m done with the rules. But you know, with 10 nominations come responses, sometimes more responsibility. So that’s how I feel about it. And, yeah, I mean, I think when the announcement came, I didn’t count. It was other people who told me who were counting.”

There are many people who mentored Kahaunaele through her music journey. From her grandparents’ generation, her great-grandmother’s generation, and her Kaua‘i ‘ohana, she has grown to be who she is because of them.

“Those who I knew on Kaua‘i are one of the main lifelines for our culture,” Kahaunaele said, “those who are performing and those who are taking the responsibility to sing at the parties or sing at the community events. I would like to thank them, and there are many, many to name, but I will start with my mother, Lady Ipo Kahaunaele-Ferreira.”

Kahaunaele said her favorite song that she wrote is “Waipunalei,” which is also the title of the album.

“It’s because it represents something fresh and new,” Kahaunaele said. “And it was a place that I didn’t know much about. But I was drawn to the name. So I wrote this song. So that I could further connect to a place.”

Waipunalei is an area of northeastern Hawai‘i Island near Laupahoehoe.

Ask any Kaua‘i native where they would visit first when coming home to Kaua‘i, and most would say their favorite eatery.

Yet Kahaunalele said she is craving the homemade ono foods made by her ‘ohana.

“I’m going to visit my grandparents’ house,” Kahaunalele said. “Because that is my foundation. That is my home.”

Following are Anahola native Kainani Kahaunaele’s list of 2021 Na Hoku Hanohano Award nominations:

• Album of the Year (producer’s and artist’s Award — “Waipunalei” (Mahuahua Music LLC);

• Song of the Year (composer’s award) — “Waipunalei;”

• Female Vocalist of the Year — for “Waipunalei”;

• Hawaiian Music Album of the Year — “Waipunalei;”

• Haku Mele Award — Kahaunaele and Hiapo K. Perreira, for “Ohaoha Kou Lei Pua I Ka Hikina;”

• Haku Mele Award — Kahaunaele, Cody Pueo Pata and Snowbird Bento for “No Pihemanu;”

• Haku Mele Award — for “Waipunalei;”

• Hawaiian Language Performance Award — “Waipunalei;”

• Hawaiian Engineering Award — Michael Grande for “Waipunalei;”

• Liner Notes Award — Kahaunaele for “Waipunalei.”


Stephanie Shinno, education and business reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.

  1. RGLadder37 June 4, 2021 12:43 am Reply

    If you’re Hawaiian, you know what this means. Congrats!

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