I was so happy and blessed to be connected again with my 'ori sisters, bonded forever by our time together in Ma'ohi Nui of O'ahu and now each a Ra'atira of our own groups across the continental U.S.: Angie Jackman of Teva Oriata in Oregon, Agnes Manuma of Ali'itasi Productions in Utah, and myself Kalei'okalani Matsui of Huraiti Mana in Seattle. I was last reunited with my past leader and Ra'atira Agnes competing together at Ori Fest back in March. Now, over the long November Veteran's Day weekend, Teva Oriata hosted Agnes Manumā and her husband Matt Manumā (my 'ori brother!) as they lead private one-on-one classes and group classes in drumming, Siva Samoa, and 'Ori Tahiti.
Each Ra'atira, my 'ori sisters, also shared wisdom & advice regarding their struggles and successes in each leading her own group. With us each step of the way, our loving ipo, our sweethearts, and our most dedicated dancers. We are here, growing our communities, giving everything we can to a lifelong journey of cultural learning and sharing. The mana was strong with us all together in Teva Oriata's beautiful studio. Huraiti Mana is excited for opportunities to host Teva Oriata and Ali'itasi Productions coming in 2020 - stay tuned to hear more!
A sincerest māuruuru to Agnes Manumā for her amazing skill and knowledge -- I owe my dance style and strength to her. Māuruuru to my 'ori sister Angie for inviting Huraiti Mana to Oregon, opening up her home and studio to us, giving her wisdom and growing our community immensely. We will all see each other again, soon! E haere mua!
Our Huraiti joined an 'Ori Tahiti workshop with Leloani of Te Aho Nui. Based in California, Leolani visits Seattle annually to share in an 'Ori Tahiti workshop with the many Pupu 'Ori across Washington. We were so happy and fortunate to be able to participate this year and can't wait for more opportunities in 2020! Also, keep watch as Huraiti Mana will for the first time be hosting 'Ori Tahiti workshops throughout 2020. More posts to come, soon!
Mahalo nui loa to Wing Luke Museum and all the folks in Community Programs and Exhibits who made this partnership possible! Kalei'okalani, Ra'atira of Huraiti Mana is one of the four featured artists in the Wing Luke Museum's Shining Through, Reflections of an Oceanic Future, the Pacific Islander exhibit currently open until November 10, 2019. In connection with the exhibit, Kalei'okalani hosted a second fresh lei-making workshop with The Wing in the Native Hawaiian tradition of lei wili papa, wrapping lau and pua (flowers and leaves) to a base. The event was sold-out to a room of amazingly kind-hearted, invested, hard-working, and sweet first-time lei weavers! Lisa made the incredible lei wili pictured above - her first lei! I am so incredibly proud of everyone who joined us - the stories, the questions, the mana, and the aloha. The mana and aloha was palpable, the lau and pua fragrant. We hope to continue offering lei-making classes with different techniques, materials, and styles in the future. To learn more about lei-making, please let us know at email@example.com. We'll be sure to contact you for any future opportunities. To view more lei by Kalei'okalani, visit our Fresh Flower Lei-Making page.
Kalei'okalani hosted a lei wili workshop with the Live Aloha Festival as a part of their largest pre-festival programming yet! A full day of workshops with masters in many types of crafts including 'ukulele with Joe Souza, 'ukulele with Willie K, Mauna protocol with Kumu Hula Iwalani Christian, Lei Hulu with Kumu Pattie Hanna, and a memories of family and Hawai'i writing workshop with published author Loreen Lilyn Lee. Mahalo nui loa to Aunty Cyndi and all who prepare year-round for this annual event in Seattle. Live Aloha has a special place in my heart, bringing home to me when I needed it most in my move from O'ahu to Seattle more than 10 years ago! Mahalo nui loa a me ke aloha nui! We hope to continue offering lei-making classes with different techniques, materials, and styles in the future. To learn more about lei-making, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll be sure to contact you for any future opportunities. To view more lei by Kalei'okalani, visit our Fresh Flower Lei-Making page.
LEI-MAKING WORKSHOP SEATTLE
Saturday, September 7, 2019 | 9AM-11:30AM & 1PM-3:30PM
Seattle Center Armory Lofts 305 Harrison St Seattle, WA 98109
LEI-MAKING WORKSHOP SEATTLE
Sunday, September 15, 2019 | 11AM - 1:30PM
Wing Luke Museum 719 S King St Seattle, WA 98104
Fresh flowers, fragrant greens, and endless results. Join us! Participants will learn about the significance of lei-making and how this Polynesian tradition is integral in the perpetuation of cultural values. This is a challenging exercise and is recommended for 12+. No experience necessary. Lei are not simply decorative pieces; they share a spiritual connection with and are representative of the land they come from, the people who create them, and the people for whom they are made. Lei is a cultural, personal, and spiritual exchange of aloha (love), mana (spiritual power), and mana'o (knowledge). Learn about how lei-making strengthens our connections to the land and to each other. Share in company, stories, and laughter in this labor of love.
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.
We had the fortunate opportunity to work again with Northwest Folklife for their annual festival at the Seattle Center, which took place May 24-27, 2019. Huraiti Mana hosted an 80-minute Ori Tahiti dance workshop that brought together dancers from Huraiti Mana, Hālau Hula Ke Liko A'e O Lei Lehua, and many other dance troupes, as well as belly dancers and others who had never before experienced Tahitian dance. It was a tough and fun workshop going over many Ori Tahiti basics. We were also able to finish our entire ahuroa (or mehura) number, E Te Nuna'a, shown in the video above of a previous performance.
We don't have video or photos from the Tahitian dance workshop itself - immediately following the workshop, I broke my phone! So alas, I lost the media there, but media is not necessary when you understand the ite or knowledge of what was passed down to you. When you remember the stories that were shared with you. When you carry the kuleana or responsibility to continue sharing these stories through teaching.
I absolutely enjoy meeting folks and teaching dance and craft workshops across Seattle. Although workshops are a quick snapshot, just a short moment in a journey of lifetime-learning, with a shared focused energy, we can dive deeply, learn immensely, and retain absolutely the knowledge and mana we share.
Mauruuru roa to all those who create Northwest Folklife and keep many traditions alive, for many peoples.
Huraiti Mana will be joining for another consecutive year, the Annual Northwest Folklife Festival with an Ori Tahiti Ahuroa dance workshop on Sunday, May 26, 2019 from 3:00PM - 4:20PM. Please join Kalei'okalani Onzuka Matsui as she shares with you basic steps of Ori Tahiti, original choreography of an ahuroa or mehura, and a look toward reo Tahiti, Tahitian language.
Date: Sunday, May 26, 2019
Time: 3PM - 4:20PM
Place: Seattle Center Armory Theater 4 (upstairs)
Event: 48th Annual Northwest Folklife Festival
A full itinerary of the weekend's events will be up on May 1, 2019!
Seattle Children's Museum held their first-ever Patchwork Puget Sound event Saturday, Dec. 29 - Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018. Sunday, Huraiti Mana performed with an Ori Tahiti segment featuring our youngest huraiti! We followed our performance with a lei-making activity for the young and their accompanying young-at-heart. We had a fantastic time with our young audience and are so happy to have participated in this event dedicated to showcasing the communities of the Puget Sound area.
Mauruuru roa to Devin and the entire team at the Seattle Children's Museum. We appreciate the hospitality, the warmth, and the fun you all bring to our city's youth!
Photos by: Jojo Gaon
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