Office of Hawaiian Affairs to host cultural workshops and more at this year’s Merrie Monarch Hula Festival

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During the week of the 61st Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs will present Nā Hanana o OHA community engagement series honoring the enduring legacy of King David Kalākaua and his advocacy for restoring traditional Hawaiian knowledge and practices.

From April 3 to 6, OHA will host cultural workshops, panel discussions and a parade float to celebrate mauka to makai connections, honor ʻike kūpuna and the resilience of Native Hawaiian culture.

“Under King Kalākaua’s reign, many vital aspects of Hawaiian culture, including hula, were outlawed and deemed illegal. His courageous advocacy efforts played a pivotal role in restoring these cherished traditions, paving the way for the preservation of ʻike kūpuna and other traditional knowledge and practices,” OHA Chair Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey said. “Today, OHA continues to champion Native Hawaiian Indigenous knowledge, cultural restoration, and community-based involvement as essential pillars of cultural sustainability.”

OHA’s interactive workshop series will delve into various aspects of Hawaiian culture, from hula and storytelling to weaving, and carving. RSVP is required at

All hands-on workshops will be led by Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners and hosted from 10 a.m. to noon at the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center, located on the Hilo bayfront at 76 Kamehameha Ave.:

  • April 3: Story Telling with Kumu Hula Manaiakalani Kalua
  • April 4: Ulana Lauhala Workshop with ʻAha Puhala O Puna
  • April 5: ‘Ohe Kapala with Nalu Andrade of Nā Maka Kahiko

OHA’s advocacy supports the continued existence of cultural resource management and practices at local, state, federal and international levels. OHA’s empowerment panel discussions will explore ʻāina momona and self-determination, Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK), and the critical importance of kai moana.

Panels will be hosted at the Nani Mau Gardens, at 421 Makalika St. in Hilo, and moderated by OHA Hawaiʻi Island-based Public Policy Advocates Shane Akoni Nelson, Kealoha Pisciotta, and Kamaile Puluole-Mitchell.

The panel schedule is as follows:

On April 3 from 10 a.m. to noon: Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK) with U‘ilani Naipo of the Miloliʻi Community Based Subsistence Fishing Area (CBSFA) and OHA Legacy Land Management Specialist Kalena Blakemore. 


From 1 to 3 p.m.: ‘Āina Momona & Self-determination with Kawika Lewis of ʻĀina University and Dana Shapiro of the Hawaiʻi Island ‘Ulu Cooperative. 

On April 4 from 1 to 3 p.m.: Kai Moana with Uncle Solomon Kahoʻohalahala, Kalei Nuʻuhiwa, and Roxane Keliʻikipikaneokolohaka. 

The panel discussions serve as a platform for empowerment, dialogue, and advocacy, and invite all Native Hawaiians/Kānaka Maoli and the community at large to honor King Kalākaua’s legacy and explore ways to uphold ʻike kūpuna for generations to come.

At the Ah Fook-Chinen Civic Center, from April 3 to 5, OHA will also share information at its outreach booth and have reusable bags for all shoppers at the very popular Official Merrie Monarch Craft Fair (while supplies last).


OHA will also participate in the 61st Merrie Monarch parade on April 6. Collaborating with Hawaiian-focused charter school Kua O Ka Lā, OHA will showcase a float commemorating King Kalākaua’s legacy and the enduring Hawaiian culture.

For more information and to register for the Nā Hanana o OHA community engagement events, visit OHA’s website at

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