O‘ahu hālau wins overall by one point at Merrie Monarch hula competition on Big Island
After six hours of hula ‘auana (modern hula) on Saturday night at the Edith Kanaka‘ole Stadium in Hilo, the 60th Annual Merrie Monarch Hula Competition came to a close with Hālau Ka Lā ‘Ōnohi Mai O Ha‘eha‘e from Kāne‘ohe, O‘ahu, named the overall winner with 1,231 points.
The competition was oh so close, with just two points separating the top three finishers. Hālau Nā Mamo O Pu‘uanahulu was second with 1,230 points and Hālau Ka Lei Mokihana O Leinā‘ala, was third with 1,229 points.
The three-day competition started Thursday with Agnes Renee Leihiwahiwaikapolionāmakua Thronas Brown from Ka La ‘Onohi Mai O Ha‘eha‘e winning Miss Aloha Hula and continued on Friday with Kahiko (ancient) hula performances.
The event culminated with the ‘auana (modern) competition on Saturday. Winners were announced for the Men and Women’s Division as well as overall winners.
“We’re just so grateful to Ke Akua [God] for carrying us through and allowing us to have the breath of life to even chant and dance and express our aloha for our mo‘olelo,” said Kumu Hula Tracie Lopes of Hālau Ka Lā ‘Ōnohi Mai O Ha‘eha‘e. “It means so much to us as Hawaiians and as people. We love hula so just being part of Merrie Monarch is a blessing.”
The hālau are scored on various things, including: interpretation, expression, posture, precision, authenticity of costumes and more.
Overall winners for the Kāne Division are:
- 1st place: Hālau Kekuaokalā‘au‘ala‘ilahi, from Wailuku, Maui, with 1,217 points.
- 2nd place: Hālau Nā Mamo O Pu‘uanahulu, from Kapahulu, O‘ahu, with 1,215 points.
- 3rd place: Ka Leo O Laka I Ka Hikina O Ka Lā, from Kapalama, O‘ahu, with 1,206 points.
First place winner in the Wāhine and Kāne Divisions for ‘auana was Hālau Hi‘ikaināmakalehua, from Niuhelewai, Kona and O‘ahu, under the direction of Kumu Hula Robert Ke‘ano Ka‘upu IV and Lono Padilla. The women scored 617 points and the men garnered 619 points.
The men performed a mele [song] written by the late Kumu Hula Johnny Lum Ho. Ka‘upu performed “Ka Rodeo O Waimea” for the first time 20 years ago under the direction of Lum Ho. They also won that year.
“We wanted to honor Uncle Johnny who passed away last year,” Padilla said.
Wāhine Kahiko winers:
- 2nd place: Hālau Nā Mamo O Pu‘uanahulu, scoring 615 points
- 3rd place tie: Hula Hālau ‘O Kamuela, from Kalihi and Waimānalo, O‘ahu, and Hālau Hula Ka Lehua Tuahine, from Mānoa and Waimānalo, both scoring 614 points.
- 4th place: Hālau Ka Lei Mokihana O Leinā‘ala, from Kalāheo, Kaua‘i, scoring 613 points.
Wāhine ‘Auana winners:
- 2nd place: Hālau Ka Lei Mokihana O Leinā‘ala, with 616 points.
- 3rd place: Hālau Nā Mamo O Pu‘uanahulu, with 615 points.
- 4th place: Hālau Ka Lā ‘Ōnohi Mai O Ha‘eha‘e, with 614 points.
- 5th place: Hālau Hula Ka Lehua Tuahine, with 609 points.
Kāne Kahiko winners:
- 2nd place: Hālau Nā Mamo O Pu‘uanahulu, with 606 points.
- 3rd place: Hālau Ka Lā ‘Ōnohi Mai O Ha‘eha‘e, with 598 points.
- 4th place: Ka Leo O Laka I Ka Hikina O Ka Lā, with 590 points.
Kāne ‘auana winners:
- 2nd place: Ka Leo O Laka I Ka Hikina O Ka Lā, with 616 points.
- 3rd place: Hālau Nā Mamo O Pu‘uanahulu, with 609 points.
- 4th place: Hālau Kekuaokalā‘au‘ala‘ilahi, with 608 points.
During a break in performances on Saturday, the emcee announced that the competition streaming on social media had reached over 1 million views, excitedly proclaiming: “The world loves hula!”
The night ended with kumu hula taking the stage to dance an ‘auana together, which was met with claps and cheers.
Padilla said the Merrie Monarch Hula Competition is a culmination of hard work by everybody.
“All these hālau have done amazing work and they have all worked so hard,” Padilla said. “We’re just so proud and glad to be a part of it. It’s the 60th anniversary and it’s a continuation of a tradition here in Hilo, a continuation of tradition in hula and it’s something we strive to perpetuate as well.”