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The Finest of Hawaiian Culture – The Merrie Monarch Festival

The Merrie Monarch Festival offers a taste of Hawaii’s proud culture that is not to be missed.

A good Realtor will guide you to make the best possible decision in purchasing a property. We cannot make decisions for you, but we can help you to draw your own conclusions by considering factors such as location, pricing, and the likelihood of successfully closing a deal.

Yet there are other, more subtle, criteria to consider, such as the experience of culture in the region you are considering. In Hawaii, we are blessed with sunny skies, sandy beaches, and warm, balmy evenings. Yet Hawaii also offers a rich cultural renaissance—one that permeates everyday life, and is the source of a pride that can only be experienced once you become a resident. Case in point, the Merrie Monarch Festival.

Once a year, thousands of excited people descend on the town of Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii for a week-long cultural experience. The festival is dedicated to the memory of King David Kalakaua (the last elected King of Hawaii who was also called The Merrie Monarch, and who reigned from 1874 to 1891). He was a patron of the arts, especially music and dance. After 70 years of Protestant missionary influence, he restored many nearly extinct cultural traditions of the Hawaiian people, one of which was the hula (which had been forbidden).

King David Kalakaua (King of Hawaii 1874 to 1891)

The Merrie Monarch is a week-long festival, founded in 1964, that begins on Easter Sunday and includes craft fairs, cultural demonstrations, competitions, performances and a parade. The festival culminates with the annual competition in hula for Miss Aloha (solo hula), Kahiko (ancient hula) and ‘Auana (modern hula). Except for the Miss Aloha, there are two divisions; kane (male) and wahine (female).  Each halau (school) has 7 minutes on stage and are judged by ka’i (entrance), oli (chant), hula (dance) and ho’i (exit). This is considered the Olympics of hula so it is judged accordingly.

The competition spanned three evenings and included many performances; below are video clips of the winning performances, as well as one that should have won.

The winner of both the kahiko and ‘auana in the wahine division was Halau Ke’alaokamaile (embedding was turned off but you can watch it here), from the lovely island of Maui, which I proudly call home.  The clip I chose was from the ‘auana competition. I prefer uptempo but I was totally mesmerized by how the group moved as one. My friend commented that even their leis moved in unison.

Next, was the winner of both the kahiko and ‘auana in the Kane division.  They hailed from Waianae, on the island of Oahu. My thighs hurt just watching this one.

My favorite pick of the night, however, was a performance from a halau from the festival’s host town of Hilo. It was such a fun, spirited hula and the best introduction I’ve seen in a while.

I am thankful that the Hawaiian culture is thriving, and am amazed at the amount of time and dedication that these men and women put into preparing for this event. If you’d like to see more, just check out Merrie Monarch 2010 on YouTube.

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Jeremy Stice

April 19, 2010

This is a breathtaking event and is described very succinctly and eloquently by Ken. I have always enjoyed the Merrie Monarch Festival. Fantastic contribution.

Jeremy Stice

April 19, 2010

This is a breathtaking event and is described very succinctly and eloquently by Ken. I have always enjoyed the Merrie Monarch Festival. Fantastic contribution.

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