Thousands descend upon Hilo every year for the Merrie Monarch hula competition but, amid the controversy over the Thirty Meter Telescope to be built on Maunakea, some chose to ascend the mountain to share their hula as a gift of support.
“It is through hula that we show our appreciation for those who are represnting us on this mountain,” says Maya Saffrey, an ʻōlapa for Hālau Hula ʻo Mōhala ʻIlima.
“You know in hula, sometimes we get wrapped up in things like Merrie Monarch and things like we have to teach class, and we have to earn money, but we always, also, as kumu hula we need to remember that we are given these gifts of oli, of hula, these gifts that have been shared with us,” says Kumu Hula Mapuana Desilva of Hālau Hula ʻo Mōhala ʻIlima. “We happen to know hula and that helps our lāhui to be strong. That is the reason we came here today, not for hula, for the lāhui.”
This is a stance shared by Kumu Hula Vicky Holt Takamine of Hālau Hula ʻo Pua Aliʻi ʻIlima. “This is why we learn it. We learn it to give back the mana to the place, to give the words of our kūpuna, to strengthen that, and to draw from the ʻāina; the things that we have kuleana for.”
“We are humbled by their presence beause it adds to our voice that strengthens this land,” says Kahoʻokahi Kanuha, who is an Aloha ʻĀina on Maunakea.
Their presence also gives strength to an ongoing movement led now by this generation.
“We laid a paepae, our kūpuna have laid that foundation, we stood on their shoulders and the next generation stands on our shoulders and “E iho ana o luna, e piʻi ana o lalo, e hui ana nā moku, e kū ana ka paia.” Those that are above will come down and those that are below will climb up. And the islands will unite and the walls will stand firm. It is not just a prophesy. It is a promise,” promises Kumu Hula Vicky Holt Takamine.