California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

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Hayward’s Hula Group Halau O Ka Ua Liliehua Raises Funds

The local hula group sold Hawaiian arts and crafts, like leis and tree ornaments, at the sale.

A variety of baked goods and Hawaiian crafts were on display for sale on April 23 to help support a local hula and culture group.

Halau O Ka Ua Lililehua is located in a green building across the street from the B Street BART parking lot, and was founded by Mikoi Iwamoto—a local Hawaiian who relocated to the Bay.

‘Halau’ is a Hawaiian word meaning school or group but today it is more commonly used to describe a hula group.

With the blessing of her kumu, or teacher, and after dancing hula for many years, Iwamoto decided to form her own halau in 2001.

Within her halau, she educates her members about Hawaiian culture, as well as teaching them to dance hula and learn routines.

Hula is a Hawaiian dance form that was traditionally performed as a form of prayer and frequently to tell stories of great battles or the history of their gods.

When the Hawaiian Islands were occupied by British missionaries in 1820, natives were forbidden to dance hula because it was seen as promoting heathen beliefs and contained sexual references.

As is common when a territory is annexed by a larger power, Hawaiians were at risk of losing many of their traditions. However, in the early 1900s, hula was reinstated, and though many of the ritualistic dances were lost, most of the tradition was preserved.

Iwamoto feels it is important to not only understand the dance moves, but also understand the culture behind it.

“In addition to hula and language, we teach Hawaiian crafts, such as Hawaiian percussion implement-making and costuming,” Iwamoto said. “Right now, we are in the midst of feather hatband-making and Hawaiian pahu drum-making courses.”

Halau O Ka Ua Lililehua’s most recent showing of Hawaiian culture was last Saturday, April 23 in the group’s studio.

“We have occasional bake sales and craft sales as fundraisers but also to showcase the food and crafts in Hawaiian culture,” said Iwamoto.

Baked goods, such as a local favorite butter mochi, and crafts, like tree ornaments made from raffia, were sold at the event to help fund the group’s expenses. The empty food tables were a testament to the bake sale’s success.

While the group is non-competitive, they will occasionally perform for public audiences and in the past have traveled to such events as the Merrie Monarch festival—a large hula showcase and competition—on the big island of Hawai’i.

In the last U.S. Census, Hayward was ranked in the top five cities with residents from Hawai’i and other Pacific Island nations, so there is a large market for the halau to outreach.

“We are also going to have a craft booth at the Asian Heritage Street Celebration on May 21 in San Francisco,” said Iwamoto, “and also at a Memorial Day celebration at Swiss Park on May 30.”

Though Halau O Ka Ua Lililehua will not be tabling at the event, the annual Hawaiian May Day Celebration in the Alameda fairgrounds is Mother’s Day weekend will showcase an abundance of Hawaiian history and culture.

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California State University East Bay
Hayward’s Hula Group Halau O Ka Ua Liliehua Raises Funds