from Board Directors of Ka `Imi Na`auao o Hawai`i Nei Institute:

“Thank you for not allowing an absence to occur at our favorite ‘Emalani-time’ this challenging year of the pandemic, 2020. It was wonderful to be able to “attend” and enjoy the Festival through the virtual means you made possible. And thank you, too, to all the participants for the creativity blossoming from the heart that was woven together into a lei of hula, oli and mele presented to the spirit of Queen Emma–truly ‘the people’s queen.’” – Dawn Kawahara, Board Pres.

“I liked the creativity displayed by some contributors, such as the group that used split screens to show dancers performing the same hula in different venues. I noted that the virtual format had allowed/encouraged performers to break with the creeping formality of past years. For some time, Roselle has tried to reverse this trend. Perhaps the new format dictated by COVID-19 will effect this reversal.” – Heu`ionalani Wyeth, Board Director & Past Pres.

“I also liked the video. Several friends who knew little about Queen Emma were glad to have more information about her and her 1871 Koke`e trek.” – Pat “Moanikeala” Finberg, Treas.

From Kumu Hula Hi`ipoi Ho, Hula Alapa‘i i Noho i Kuali`i, O`ahu branch Ka `Imi Na`auao o Hawai`i Nei Institute:

I loved several segments of the Virtual Emalani Festival 2020, and hope to view all again. In the first, Ka ‘Imi Instituteʻs segment, I enjoyed watching Kumu Roselle and Kumu Sharon and Mr. B. moving around their familiar yard in Wailuku, and talking about how Hawaiians–when they had their own land–loved to work the ‘āina.  I especially enjoyed the casual, comfortable repartee between the two generations of kumu…including the acknowledgement that Sharon had portrayed Queen Emma one year. To me, their conversation reflected their relationship, which combines solid respect and admiration for each other, and also an element of comfort and ease in working together.

Two other hālau presentations of special note were (1): that of Sherry Patrick (a former Emalani Queen) which featured various haumāna sharing their perspectives. Queen Sherry had impressed me as she presented her oli as she rode into the meadow, and I was again impressed by the understanding and sincerity reflected in her haumānaʻs verbal presentations; and (2) Pairs and clusters from Leimomi Kiyono’s group presented a variety of mele in different styles.

Mahalo nui to Hui o Laka and all the participating hālau for this intricate undertaking requiring months of planning and preparation of a different kind than usual!  Me ka ha’aha’a. –Hi’ipoi Ho

From the haumana of  Kahiko I Hula O Ke Anuenue, California branch,

 “This was my first time to see the Emalani Festival.  Because it was virtual, I was able to be a part of this beautiful festival.  It was very healing and thank you for spreading the aloha to us through this festival.”  – Emie Tonooka Steeves

“A joy to watch. Beautifully presented. Brought back memories of how special it was to be there in 2018. So fun to watch Roselle and Sharon talk about horseback riding.”  – Cynthia Meigs (horsewoman)

“The video was an inspiration and I’m proud to have shared in the Festival in 2018. The love of story and hula never stops as we are able to learn about Queen Emalani’s beautiful kindness and service to her community.” – Linda Ka’iulani Anderson

“What an honor to witness the reenactment of Queen Emma’s journey in Kaua`i to discover healing, love, and beauty. The virtual program captures the beautiful Aloha of Hawaii conveyed in mele, oli, and Hula. The production is therapeutic during these challenging times. I had sweet dreams after watching the show! I think everyone who loves Hawaii would find the show inspiring while learning about the history of Queen Emma.

I am a new student of Kumu Lynn in California, so this is my first time watching the E o Emalani Festival. Thank you for creating and sharing––so enchanting!” – Deanna Lutzeier

. . .& their Kumu Hula Lynn Kananiokeanuenue Roth  “My heart swells to hear Roselle and Sharon so lovingly speak of their roles in the creation and participation of E O Emalani. With this event, like the garden, we grow in the richness of the planted seeds of inspiration and become wiser and more joyful in the process. The music was wonderful, and the production classy. Mahalo to all!” –  Lynn Kananiokeanuenue Roth

A “Green Flash” column on the subject of diversity published after E`o e Emalani 2018 in The Garden Island news by Dawn Kawahara, long-term Ka `Imi Institute member and current Board President, will be included in her newest book to be published this year. “Following the imprint of Queen Emma’s spirit” will appear as part of a chapter focused on Kauai’s celebrations in a compilation of six years of Dawn’s bi-weekly columns entitled, “The ‘Green Flash’ Chronicles; Kaua`i, An Island in Time.” For further information,

Speaking of diversity–the focus of the last “Green Flash” (TGI Oct. 8, 2018, A-6)*–the meaning of that word boomeranged back to me in Koke`e as I enjoyed watching and being part of the E`o e Emalani i Alaka`i Festival in honor of the beloved Hawaiian Queen Emma Nae`a Rooke and her 1871 upland trek with 100 friends into the Alaka`i Swamp area. What an array of dancers and chanters, musicians, cultural vendors and environmental educators, Hui O Laka/Koke`e Natural History Museum workers, and Festival goers gathered for the public event!
The sight of so many people of varying backgrounds all cooperating happily in the spirit of the Queen who is so revered for her loving, helpful–and explorative–spirit was, for lack of a better word, uplifting.
This recent Festival, and all the others I’ve had the privilege of attending over the years, was once again unforgettable. As October approaches each year, it’s something many look forward to–a beautiful, gentle time, a time to learn and celebrate goodness and cooperative humanity, beauty of the Hawaiian culture and way of being. A time to travel mauka (mountainward), to breathe the pure, cool air, to hug and honi (kiss, inhale scent) with family, friends and acquaintances, to leave “the grid” behind as cell phones and interruptions of thought and spirit are quiet, and to truly enter into a shining, peaceful window to history of this place.
“I felt that this is where Hawaiian people could come to truly learn and celebrate (a part of) their history,” Anette Jelen-Csokay told me. She had traveled from Vienna, Austria, with dancers of her European branch of the Ka `Imi Institute halau hula (hula school) to join in Ka `Imi’s combined presentation.
While relaxing, watching, listening and learning in the green meadow, time always seems to elongate. Co-founder and Mistress of Ceremonies (MC) Roselle Keli`ihonipua Bailey in one of her trove of educative tidbits offered between halau hula presentations remarked, “Time is a commodity” in our present day and age. The MC has an exacting job as time keeper, also, so that each group involved is assured of a fair share of presentation time and the overall Festival timing stays on track.
Because all the gifts of hula, mele and oli (song and chant) that are presented to the reigning “Queen” in this public event are from the heart and non-competitive, this infuses the day with a special glow. The non-profit Hui O Laka Board and members with full cooperation from their invited participants have striven to keep it this way, following the protocol of the true historic time of the actual Queen Emalani riding into the meadow. How thrilling it is to welcome the elegant Queen as she arrives on horseback accompanied by her guide playing Kaluahi (the original guide for the Queen’s trek) and her Kumu Hololio (horse-riding head attendant).
This year’s choice to represent the Queen, Sharalyn Kahealani Bucasas, joins a long line of women, each of whom has been carefully chosen because of her outstanding presence and work for the betterment of others within the community. And as to diversity, looking back at the list of previous 29 Festival Queens, the surnames read as a global stew, from Filipino and Spanish, British and European, Asian, Polynesian including Hawaiian–an affirming stew attesting to the richly-mixed gene pool of our island people.
Which takes us to consider an oft-quoted message of King David Kalakaua, another visionary ruler of the Hawaiian Kingdom, who clearly stated that, “Our people will be a new breed.” He understood that there would be intermarriage in Hawai`i as a true crossroads of the Pacific, that the Hawaiian and Polynesian bloodlines would mix with other bloodlines, resulting in the strong, handsome citizenry of today. He also gave the underlying message that this was not a dilution of strength, but the opposite, and that the “new breed” he spoke of would carry forward the true values of the Hawaiian culture rooted in respectful reverence of the island `aina (earth) and sustainability for its “flowers”–the people, and not forgetting the spiritual aspect of humanity.
That prediction was evident once again in the Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow on this October’s second Saturday, the day set for the Emalani Festivals, past and future.
The day dawned clear, fresh and sunny–a gift between rainy, chilly times. The Koke`e Museum workers and volunteers had set up awnings and decorated designated areas the afternoon before; they arrived back early to set the finishing touches. (The word is out that worker-bees as well as contributors would be welcomed for any of the varied and important Museum educational forest projects, including E`o e Emalani i Alaka`i 2019. There is also The Forest Bird Recovery Project and others needing support.)
During one hula presentation following midday, a dancer lifted her hands toward the position of the sun in the meadow, only to see her fingertips pointing to the amazing drifts of our famous mountain ua noe (mist) that suddenly arrived as a blessing, lingered and teased, then disappeared as quickly as it came. Magical. Touching. Ephemeral. . . like the annual Festival.
Festival footage is readily available to view on the internet and in DVDs sold at the Koke`e Museum Shop. To become a member of Hui o Laka in support of the work of preserving, protecting and educating within the Koke`e Forest of Waimea Canyon State Park, you may access membership and other information at or write to Hui o Laka, P.O. Box 100, Kekaha, HI 96752.  –//–