Continuing Education for Kumu: Koke’e, Kaua’i

Nä Kumu from Kaua’i and Oahu became nä haumana during a retreat at Pu’uhinahina cabin in Koke’e, Kaua’I, November 1 – 3, 2002. The kumu, together with Kumu Roselle Bailey spent the weekend continuing their education in hula protocol. Instruction included pairing off and exploring the Koke’e waonahele to identify and collect plants required for construction of a kuahu hula, continued learning of the oli kuahu, and understanding the order of protocol. Hi’ipoikealoha Ho represented Oahu halau, and Moanikeala Finberg, Keakawaiola Jardin, Keahi Manea, and Heu’ionalani Wyeth represented Kaua’i, and Kananiokeanuenue Roth represented California. These kumu have at cumulative total of more than 100 years of hula experience among them, all under the direction of Kumu Roselle.

The adventure in the waonehele was especially pleasant. The day was extraordinarily clear and bright, the forest lush and fragrant from recent rain, and the assigned activity challenging. Some of us knew where the harder-to-find plants were and headed straight there, happening on the others along the way. Others simply picked a nearby area, and kept exploring until all the plants were found. We had varying levels of expertise in plant knowledge and identification skills. What we all discovered was that the plants are in abundance, but because we are not usually seeking them, we walk right by without seeing them. We were given 2 hours for the task, but it was so enjoyable, we wanted to stay longer. Perhaps there was a small amount of fear about the next required task of actually building the kuahu and reciting the oli.

Another highlight of the weekend was learning the new breathing/chanting/motion exercise of the Hawaiian vowels from Kumu Roselle. Performed with dancers in a circle, earth (o), water (I), spiritual humanity (u), sun (a) and wind (e) are expressed with slow hula motion and controlled viibrato voice.

Now the “home work” continues, as we all try to ho’opa’a na’au what we learned. A follow-up workshop will be held at Koke’e in February.

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