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!
Huraiti Mana dressed and ready for their show on Saturday, October 12, 2019 as a part of the New Burke Museum Grand Opening. We are so thankful to the amazing staff who put together a weekend-long event filled with incredible communities from across the Pacific Northwest. The New Burke Museum is now 66% times larger than its previous build and is currently showcasing exhibits of culture, geology & paleontology, biology, and so much more! View the world from the inside out and learn about the many who call this area, home.
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.
I am so proud and honored to represent Huraiti Mana at the first-ever Hura Tini competition at this year's Heiva i Honolulu, an incredible opportunity to compete not in age categories but in a two-part competition of mehura and ote'a, the two signatures of Tahiti Nui International competitions. I also owe all my love and knowledge of ori Tahiti to the Pupu Ori I grew up with and have shaped the path of my ori life, Ma'ohi Nui. Mauruuru roa to Marisol for creating a beautiful mehura outfit for me in brilliant red to perform an impromptu number. Maruuru to my Huraiti Mama who, as always, was backstage with me, detailing my looks and making sure I eat! Mauruuru to all my 'ohana, including all my huraiti at Huraiti Mana, and most especially e ku'uipo! Our community has been so incredibly supportive and loving, sending all their mana to us wherever we've traveled. It's been a great long year of growth and learning, and I am so honored to round out Huraiti Mana's 2019 year of competition with a 4th Overall Win at Hura Tini! We will continue to hone our techniques and improve our skills as we head into 2020!
Meeting the huraiti in Kaua'i felt like the rightful culmination of our year-long solo competition journey as a team: all the solo competition practice hours, all the sweat, all the air travel, the rent-a-cars, the hotels and workshops. It's all lead us to a beautiful long weekend in the Garden Isle, Kaua'i island. With flying in two days prior to the competition (and not the morning-of!), we were able to rest, relax, and spend daylight hours picking fresh vegetation and weaving our regalia pieces. We practiced on the white-sand beaches and, in the calm of the waves, performed an impromptu hule mele, Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai for and to the kai (ocean) itself. I am happy to bring back 3rd place for our Pupu Ori, Huraiti Mana's first-ever award in the Hawaiian islands! We set the stage ablaze in the Hawai'i heat, and returned home beautifully connected. Mahalo a mauruuru roa e ku'u vahine huraiti! Maita'i 'outou!
Mahalo to all who made Heiva i Kaua'i possible with the many talented vendors, amazing Pupu Ori in group competition, and all the supporting 'ohana! Organizers of the fete were so interested to hear we were from Seattle, as do all organizers and participants with every competition we attend. Seattle is home to a rich Polynesian community and dancing community we are so very honored to represent! To dance and make Tahitian people proud is our humble passion and blessing.
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.
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