A very different Merrie Monarch

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The combined kane and wahine performers of Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala get together before flying off to Hilo Sunday at the Lihu‘e Airport.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kumu hula Leina‘ala Pavao Jardin leads hula halau Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala in prayer Sunday before the group leaves to participate in the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival in Hilo, at Lihu‘e Airport.

Members of hula halau Ka Lei Mokihana O Hawai‘i were quickly identified at the Lihu‘e Airport crowd Sunday morning because of the uniform, dark-blue shirts emblazoned with “Merrie Monarch.”

The outfit also included matching accessories, including personal face masks and personal totes proudly displaying the mokihana berry that is the flower of Kaua‘i, and luggage in colors to match the mokihana berry colors.

“We always leave with last year’s (shirts),” said a kane performer between checking in baggage and waiting on the arrivals to complete the abbreviated groups that will participate in the 2021 edition of the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival in Hilo. “We come home with this year’s (shirts).”

Kumu hula Leina‘ala Pavao Jardin said this is the ninth appearance of the Kalaheo-based halau at the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival.

“It’s supposed to be our 10th appearance,” she said. “But there wasn’t a festival last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic shutting everything down. We have to leave today because we need to quarantine before performing. We also need to have testing done, and we cannot associate with any of the other participating halau. Basically, we’re going, performing and coming home.”

The Merrie Monarch Hula Festival has been held each year since 1964, and became a victim of the pandemic when Festival President Luana Kawelu had to make a decision to call off the event weeks before it was scheduled to run in the spring of 2020, the festival website states.

“The health and wellbeing of all halau participants and the community overall was our top priority then, and continues to be now, as we move forward with holding the event this year,” Kawelu said in her message.

“We are grateful to our partners, including representatives from The Queen’s Health Systems that are lending their time, expertise and resources to help us set up and implement this comprehensive safety plan (that is modeled after those used by professional sports teams and associations over the past year).”

Pavao Jardin said this trip will see the halau kane take the stage for the first time. The kane group includes Luke Hunadi, who recently graduated from Kaua‘i High School.

“He’s going straight to college from here,” she said. “Remember him from when he earned the Master Keiki Hula in 2013 at the Queen Lili‘uokalani Keiki Hula Competition?”

Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala is one of 15 participating halau that will take the stage with no live audience on June 24, 25 and 26 at the Edith Kanaka‘ole Stadium in Hilo.

The field includes 11 wahine and eight kane halau in both the kahiko (ancient) and ‘auana (modern) categories, and seven Miss Aloha Hula entrants.

The performances will be broadcast on KFVE on July 1, 2, and 3, at which time the winners will be announced.

“We’ll be home by then,” Pavao Jardin said. “We have a big-screen television, and we’ll be watching like everyone else.”


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

  1. Mike Kempinski June 21, 2021 6:42 am Reply

    Anyone know the name of the research vessel/yacht that was anchored off of Anini Beach on Sunday?

    1. USAF Brat June 28, 2021 6:33 am Reply

      “I can see Russia from here…”. Kaua’i east shore Sunday 06/27. Over two weeks, twice 3-F-22 Raptor dispatched to East Hawaii Island, then HFP published, “ship was 30-miles south”, and Monkeywerx said “300-miles north of Oahu, and as above, ship cruised between Oahu, just off the coast closer to Kaua’i.

      Sunday before 6/27 Halau flew to the Merrie Monarch competition on Hawaiian. The following jet that took off behind them was bookface Z’s scheduled exit to the “spa” to join F so they could further commisurate on emails between themselves. Weird that A private citizen and a government agent are cahooting and is certainly a newsworthy item, that you would never see published out from TGI. Finally, in our SW skies was seen obvious missile trails. Kauai PMRF has again made Ha Wai I ground zero! Military not GMO!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.