Rick Makanaaloha Kia'imeaokekanaka San Nicolas and the Makanaaloha Group is proud to be the founder of this very special event along with George Na'ope. With his passing this October 26, 2009, it is even more important to me to continue this competition in his honor. In 2004 when I asked Uncle George about holding a hula competition here in California in his honor, we spoke about a keiki competition first. Uncle George told me, "Why not do a competition for only men?". I thought about that for a moment and replied to him "You know, you are right. There is not enough emphasis put on the kāne in hula and if I do this event, it can only help". So with that, I have his blessings, his permission to use him name in our event, and the privilege holding the first kāne hula competition bearing his name.
In 2011 with careful consideration with my family, our judges, and close friends, I have decided to make our event come "full circle" to be inclusive of all hula categories. We have added the Wahine Division, Gracious Ladies as well as the Kupuna Division. Many halau have asked to be a part of our event and now they can with these new categories added to complete our competition. We have also moved the hula competition to our new home in Old Sacramento at the Holiday Inn Capitol Plaza, Sacramento, CA. We have also considered the dates of the event previously and have found our dates in August fall closer and closer to new start dates for school as they have changed. We are have changed the date of our hula competition on the third weekend of July now and not the second weekend of August any longer. We feel that the festival will be better served with a date that is most convenient for the hula halau that all would like to attend.
Uncle George's lifelong commitment in sharing aloha, perpetuating the Hawaiian culture through the sharing of his vast knowledge of Hawaiian chants, language, music and hula, sadly ended with his passing on October 26, 2009 at his Waiakea Uka home at the age of 81. George Na'ope will be remembered by many hundreds of thousands of people which he has shared his aloha with all around the world. His hula traditions and teaching methods must live on through many of us now to pay tribute to this hula master, and our last Loea to a hula generation past. George Na'ope has been recognized by both the Governor and State Legislature of Hawai'i, and the President of the United States. He was honored with the "Living Golden Treasure" designation by the Governor and State Legislation of Hawai'i in 1960, and named in the Smithsonian Institute as a "Treasure of Hawai'i" by President George Bush, Sr.
Uncle George was born on February 25, 1928 in Kalihi, and began studying hula at the age of three. His family moved to the historic town of Hilo when he was a teenager and he began to teach hula at the age of 13, earning 50 cents a lesson to pay for his schooling.After graduating from high school he moved back to Honolulu, where he opened the George Na'ope Hula School. As a young man he also travelled the world as the featured chanter for the Royal Hawaiian Revue and the Ray Kinney Band. By the 1950s Na'ope had established a hula studio on the second floor of the KHBC radio station building in Honolulu, and in 1962 he co-founded the Merrie Monarch festival, a week-long festival of traditional Hawaiian arts, crafts, and performances featuring a three-day hula competition. The festival is named after David Kalakaua, king of Hawaii from 1874 to 1891, who was known as "The Merrie Monarch". The festival rapidly grew in popularity, becoming one of the biggest events in Hawaii and being credited with playing a major role in a Hawaiian cultural renaissance. A dapper man who sported colourful clothes and huge rings, Na'ope was a fixture at the festival and its many auxiliary events. He was often to be seen sitting in a huge peacock-style chair having his picture taken with visitors from Japan. In his dotage, he drew cheering crowds to their feet when he took the Merrie Monarch stage to perform a hula during the festival's finale. He believed and lived in the word "Aloha" and helped spread that message throughout the world through hula.
Kumu Hula Rae Kahikilaulani Fonseca was born on November 17, 1953 in Hilo and is the youngest of nine siblings. He collapsed following a performance at the Lei O Lanikuhonua Hula Festival at Ko Olina and passed away from a heart attack on March 20, 2010. With his Halau Hula O Kahikilaulani of Hilo, Kumu was a perennial front runner at the Merrie Monarch Festival for the last three decades, winning numerous awards. In 1980, he established Halau Hula O Kahikilaulani. He was given the name Kahikilaulani by his own kumu hula, the late hula master and festival founder Uncle George Naope. “Laulani” was added to his hawaiian name “Kahiki.” In essence, “Kahikilaulani” (the staff of heaven) soon became “Halau Hula O Kahikilaulani”. Fonseca will be best remembered for his dedicating his life to living and preserving the Hawaiian culture.