A very different Merrie Monarch

Members of the hula halau Ka Lei Mokihana O Hawai’i were quickly identified in the crowd at Lihu’e airport on Sunday morning because of the dark blue shirt uniform emblazoned with “Merrie Monarch”.

The outfit also included matching accessories, including personal masks and personal bags proudly displaying the mokihana berry which is the flower of Kaua’i, and color-matched luggage with the mokihana berry colors.

“We’re still leaving with the (shirts) from last year,” said a kane artist between checking in baggage and waiting at arrivals to complete the short groups that will take part in the 2021 edition of the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival in Hilo. “We’re coming home with this year’s (shirts) on.”

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

“This is supposed to be our 10th appearance,” she said. “But there was no festival last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic which shut everything down. We have to leave today because we have to quarantine ourselves before playing. We also have to have some testing done and we cannot partner with any of the other participating halau. Basically we go, we produce, and we come home.

The Merrie Monarch Hula festival has been held annually since 1964 and became a victim of the pandemic when festival president Luana Kawelu had to make the decision to cancel the event weeks before it took place in the spring. 2020, the website states festival.

“The health and well-being of all halau attendees and the community at large was our top priority then, and continues to be now, as we move forward with hosting the event this year.” , Kawelu said in his post.

“We are grateful to our partners, including representatives from The Queen’s Health Systems, who have lent their time, expertise and resources to help us put in place and implement this comprehensive safety plan (which is inspired by those used by professional sports teams and associations over the past year). “

Pavao Jardin said that this trip will see the halau kane take the stage for the first time. The kane group includes Luke Hunadi, a recent graduate from Kaua’i High School.

“He goes straight to college from here,” she said. “Do you remember him when he obtained 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 who will take the stage without an audience on June 24, 25 and 26 at Edith Kanaka’ole stadium in Hilo.

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

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

“We’ll be home by then,” Pavao Jardin said. “We have a big screen TV and we will watch like everyone else.”


Dennis fujimoto, editor and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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