Huraiti Mana held practice on Wednesday night and from practice, took a 3-hour road trip to Vancouver, Washington! Arriving in Vancouver around midnight, we settled in for some rest before our early-morning check-in at 4 Days of Aloha 2019! What an incredible experience, our first time at this amazing Hawai'i craft & workshop, dance competition, kanikapila, and festival all-in-one event. We were able to stay only for the first two days of the festival, during which we three - myself, my huraiti mama, and my huraiti - each took various workshop classes. The morning of the first day, we gathered together in a college campus cafeteria and opened ceremonies with an Oli Pule (chant). The mana in the room was palpable, the 'āina coming up through my feet and spine and out into the world. I was so honored, humbled, (and quietly starstruck) to meet Kumu Hula Keali'i Reichel, Kumu Hula Snowbird Bento, and master lei weaver Aunty Rae Pacheco, as they each so willingly, so kindly, so beautifully shared their 'ike & mana'o, their no'eau & aloha with each of the many hula 'olapa, kumu hula, and interested, invested cultural learners in each of their workshops. Our huraiti Andrea partook in classes with Ra'atira Tunui Tully whose intensely creative ori Tahiti style inspired her solo competition drive; as well as with Kumu Hula Vicky Holt Takamine, whose beloved and late sister, Aunty Diva, first began 4 Days of Aloha 13 years ago. My Huraiti Mama participated in lei wili with myself and, on her own, the lau niu pāpale (coconut leaf hat) weaving course! Now we're trying to figure out how to get coconut leaves in the Pacific Northwest to continue her hat weaving (she's so excited of her newfound creative joy!).
This is a Native Hawaiian event by the people, for the people, with an overwhelming grace and openness and welcome to everyone and anyone deeply interested in expanding their cultural knowledge of our Pacific peoples. It first began as a means to bring together the large diaspora of Native Hawaiian peoples to continue practicing their heritage and traditions in their newfound homes in the Pacific Northwest. Each year the event has grown (last year it was 3 Days of Aloha!). Our first day I reconnected with Ra'atira I haven't seen in so long, with classmates from High School and from college and with my Native Hawaiian roots, realizing how small the world is, how powerfuly magnificent the strength is of Native Hawaiian people, and how interconnected we all are. That night ended with a special pāʻina or party, kanikapila style with live singing and hula dancers coming to the stage should they know the song being sung. All night we watched as hula ʻōlapa from Hālau Hula (now from all over the country!) rushed to the stage and performed various choreographed styles of the same song, all simultaneously becoming the same story but in different ways. The audience cheered each dancer, mele after mele, song after song. Nights like this are so beautifully Hawaiian.
Near the end of the night, nephew of Kumu Vicky, and son of Aunty Diva began strumming chords familiar to my heart. My body became warm as he described the meaning of He Hawai'i Au, a mele about the difficult journey that many Hawaiians face; realizing where home lies, where our place is in this world. What does it mean to be Hawaiian?
I began walking slowly to the stage and realized that I was the only dancer approaching. As I stood by the stage, Kumu Kaloku Holt continued his story. This song was the last song his mother performed in this life.
And I knew I had to dance this with all my mana and aloha, for her.
I thought about what this song meant for me and for us all as Native Hawaiians in the Pacific Northwest. We continuously search for our place, for our meaning away from our indigenous lands. We find each other. We seek out each other. But then, we realize, we will never have to go through this life wandering. We are never far and adrift. Rather, the knowledge that we need lives within us, the home that we seek is within our hearts.
No matter where we are, we are, and always will be
I kēia pō eia au me ʻoe
Kēia pō ua hoʻi mai au
He loa ka helena ma ke ala hele
E huli i wahi ma kēia ao
Maopopo a ua ʻike hoʻi
Ka home i loko o kuʻu puʻuwai
Ua hoʻi mai au, ke ʻike nei au
ʻAʻole au e ʻauana hou
Ke maopopo he Hawaiʻi au
Tonight I am here with you
Tonight, I have returned
Long was my journey on the path
To seek a place in this world
I now clearly see and understand
The home within my heart
I returned when I realized this
I will not wander again
For I understand, I am Hawaiian
Mahalo nui loa to the Kukui Foundation for creating and perpetuating and growing this amazing Polynesian community in the Pacific Northwest. Home has never felt so very near. A reminder, that Hawaiians will thrive wherever we are, as we are. Mahalo nui loa.
Aloha a ia ora na!
Sending a mahalo a mauruuru roa - many, many thanks to all of you who joined Huraiti Mana at our First Annual Fa'aori! We hope you enjoyed spending time with all of us for this special occasion. Our goal in this showcase was to give our huraiti a cause to dance! We wanted to create a welcoming space for and give thanks to our supportive 'ohana, as well as celebrate with and contribute to our Polynesian Islander community here in the Pacific Northwest.
In our first event, we truly, truly enjoyed ourselves. The months of planning, weeks of organizing, and countless hours of sewing, weaving, practicing, and so much more has been an incredibly fulfilling experience for each of us at Huraiti Mana. The Fa'aori has brought us all closer together in more ways than one, and we could not have done it without the support of our loved ones.
We have learned a lot and are so grateful that you chose to give us your help, time, and love. We hope you choose to continue on this journey of growth with Huraiti Mana.
Mahalo nui loa to those who helped sponsor our event: 4Culture, Sharon H. Chang Photography, Koloa Kreations Catering, and Paradise Cakes. You are incredible, talented, and amazing people!
Mauruuru to all of our fabulous volunteers! Our early-morning set-up crew, collage-creaters, ushers, admissions crew, merchandise booth, Lei’ala’s Lei Stand, regalia-making crew, incredible emcee Aunty Jeannie, my nephews (the toddlers collecting your ticket stubs), o ku’u ipo and DJ Kitman, runners, and clean-up crew; all so selfless and giving, so dedicated and supportive.
Mahalo to our vendors Wing Luke Museum, Kiana’s Hawaiian Jewelry, Franada ‘Ohana Bake Sale, Ken Tran videography, and once again Koloa Kreations and Sharon H. Chang photography.
Many thanks to Kiana’s Hawaiian Jewelry, Wing Luke Museum, Seattle Mariners and Seattle Children’s Museum for donating to our door raffle grand prize! And much mahalo to our fabulous emcee Aunty Jeannie for her donations of all of our game giveaways.
We shared laughs, stories, tears of joy, and mana – our life energy, our spiritual power. That is what we hope to continue to share with you at Huraiti Mana.
A moe na te hiro’a! A moe na te iho tumu!
Think about your culture! Think about your identity!
WE are Huraiti Mana.
Ha’api’i/Ra’atira, Huraiti Mana
E ku'u kaikua'ana and I celebrated the Fourth of July in typical Huraiti Mana fashion - dancing! We enjoyed this breath-taking view of the lake while performing hula and Ori Tahiti numbers for our friends' annual July 4th celebration her in Washington state, right before the sun set and fireworks lit up the Pacific Northwest sky. Mahalo nui for having us!
Huraiti Mana made our first-ever appearance at Hura Tahiti 2019! It was a very, very long road, even in comparison to all the traveling we had done thus far for solo competitions! Landing back in California, we fought a that famous CA traffic, arriving to our hotel with barely any minutes to spare before heading to our Ori Tahiti workshops with master Hirohiti Tematahotoa (and sister Diva!!), ra'atira of Hanatika and director of Ecole de Danse de Tahitienn e Heiva in Papeete. After 11 total hours of travel, we showed up to our first workshop, the mehura, coming in hot off the freeway and spent the next amazing 5 hours learning, dancing, and having an amazing time. Our second workshop for Ote'a quickly changed and morphed into an amazing Ori Tahiti Solo competition workshop with both Hiro and Diva providing invaluable feedback for each dancer - from the young tamari'i in the class to each Huraiti who were soaking up every word. Hiro and Diva are so full of ite, so full of knowledge and strength and love and passion. Diva, we also learned, was crowned the best dancer at Heiva i Tahiti in the 80s and was the first ori Tahiti dancer to introduce the tifeni with a fa'arapu! My hero!
We hope to bring Hiro up to Seattle sometime soon to partake in an Ori Tahiti dance workshop in the Pacific Northwest! As Huraiti Mana continues to learn and grow here in Seattle, was also want to continue to find ways to contribute to this rich Polynesian, Tahitian dance community in the PNW.
Leaving the workshops around 11PM, we headed back to our hotels to begin working on our regalia pieces. My mother spent a sleepless night sewing every petal onto my tape'a titi (top) while I braided my hei upo'o (headpiece) and sewed song of India to my huraiti's hei upo'o. We recommend never to spend the entire night before a long competition creating your regalia - but with the beautiful workshops we attended and the amazing people we met, we wouldn't have it any other way. Traveling, we weren't able to bring tents to shade us in the outdoor changing areas - but we were lucky in finding shade beneath a staircase area next to an amazing and talented group of tamari'i from Pupu Ori Te Vaka Nui (who put on the Ori Fest we attended shortly before this competition!). We suited, we danced, and we thoroughly enjoyed. We didn't bring in a W this time, but it was a priceless opportunity to connect, to grow, and to be a part. Mahalo to everyone at Hura Tahiti 2019!
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