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.
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'a'ori! 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'a'ori 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!
Mahalo nui loa to Anne Wily-Mavaega and the many others who planned the first-ever Lacey PolyFest in June 2019! The day started off windy and dark but as the dances kept coming and the food still cooking, the sun broke out over the beautiful festival of brown Polynesians in the Lacey community and greater Pacific Northwest. We've mentioned before how it is often that "Hawai'i-themed" or "Polynesian-themed" events can often be had at the unfortunate exclusion of Polynesian people itself; however, the many organizations we've been so fortunate to have the opportunity to work and partner with has led the way in our community to create events by the people and for the people. Lacey PolyFest was one of those amazing events that brought together the Polynesian community, the dancing community, the singing community, and all those who share in the love of Polynesian culture.
Anne did so much research reaching out to every Polynesian group she could find in the Pacific Northwest and created a stunning program of unending performance, song, dance, food, jewelry, and much more. We ended up spending the entire day at the festival enjoying this home away from island home. Mahalo a mauruuru roa to the Lacey Polyfest team! We can't wait for Lacey Polyfest 2020!
Mahalo to Kalli and all those who brought Huraiti Mana to the Seattle Mariners! It was such a thrill to be carted through backstage areas of Safeco Field to perform just before the start of the game. This was a fun treat for the huraiti who joined us for a summer ball game hula performance - who would have thought! It also was an incredibly epic ball game with runs after runs! With my Grandfather a baseball legend of my hometown community, I'd say baseball holds a special place in my heart. Let's go Mariners! Let's go Huraiti Mana!
Welcome to Huraiti Mana's First Annual Fa'a'ori!
Fa'aori is of Reo Tahiti, the Tahitian language, meaning "to cause to dance." Through dance, Huraiti Mana has been able to grow a community of diverse, hardworking, insightful, and passionate Huraiti, "skilled dancers," coming from all over Washington, from across the Pacific, and from all levels of experience with Polynesian culture, dance, and practices. Our First Annual Fa'aori serves to demonstrate the culture we have created together that embodies the deeply-rooted Polynesian values of aloha (love), 'ohana (family), and ha'aheo (pride).
Join us as we feature 'ono grinds (delicious food!) from Koloa Kreations Catering; vendors including Kiana's Hawaiian jewelry, Franada Family Bake Sale, Wing Luke Museum, and more; a fresh palm-leaf weaving workshop; dessert by Cakes of Paradise; and a performance featuring all of our Huraiti in originally choreographed hula and ori Tahiti numbers. Come out to support your 'ohana, from our youngest huraiti to our newest dancers!
Every ticket purchased is entered into a door raffle for a grand prize!
Saturday, July 6, 2019 from 12:30PM - 4:00PM at the Nisei Vets Hall in Seattle's Chinatown-International District.
E haere mai!
Purchase tickets at the door:
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.
Organizations we love