Merrie Monarch Here We Come

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Merrie Monarch Here We Come

Posted by: Kim Steutermann Rogers
Destination: Hawaii Island
Apr 26, 2011

It’s April in Hawaii. That means one thing. Merrie Monarch Festival.


This is a picture of Luana Maitland. She is a Hawaiian cultural advisor at Outrigger Reef on the Beach. She is wearing a haku lei, or a lei that is made from braiding or plaiting, in this case, from many different plant materials. The haku lei is traditionally worn on your head, around your wrist or, even, around your ankles.


I expect to see all kind of lei in the next few days, as I am headed to Hilo to experience Merrie Monarch Festival—the world-renowned hula competition that honors King David Kalakaua and all things hula.


Let’s talk hula. I recently wrote this feature story on hula. It reads:

Hula is a uniquely Hawaiian dance performed with oli (chant) and mele (song) to convey the many stories and traditions of the Hawaiian people. These stories might be light-hearted. They might be sensual. They may evoke a spiritual or worshipful essence. They may be told with breakneck speed or at a hypnotic pace.

King David Kalakaua, credited with reviving hula in the late 19th century said, “Hula is the language of the heart, therefore the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people.”

But that heartbeat almost died out in the mid 19th century with the arrival of Christian missionaries.

“When they saw the hula being performed, they thought that what we were doing gave off the wrong kind of influence that they saw as being sinful,” says Blaine Kamalani Kia, a teacher of hula and president of Ka Laua’e Foundation. “We didn’t see it as distasteful. We saw it as a way of celebrating life. So we ended up practicing the hula in hideaways and caves.”

Click here to continue reading about Hawaii’s unique dance, hula.


I’ll be writing more about hula in the next few days and sharing it with you here.


If you’d like to witness a bit of hula from the comfort of your chair at home, you can do so in two ways:


1) In Hawaii, watch live on KFVE on channel 5 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights starting at 6:00 p.m. HST.


2) Elsewhere, watch the KFVE livestream feed here:

And if you've attended Merrie Monarch before, share your experiences with the rest of us below.


Susan | Apr 27, 2011 04:16 AM

Oh, I am green with envy! I'm expecting a full accounting, hour by hour, day by day, of all the grandeur at this year's Merry Monarch. I will watch on TV so we can compare notes. Let me know which sessions you will be attending, if you know ahead. Just thinking about it makes me all tingly.

Carolyn | Mar 28, 2012 05:53 AM

Aloha, So jealous that I can't be there. Been searching for a way to buy this year's "Merry Monarch" poster..I'm here in Las Vegas and can't get there this year...any suggestions. Is there an email address I can contact? Mahalo, Carolyn

Kim | Mar 28, 2012 08:25 AM

Hi Carolyn, yes, those posters are works of art, aren't they? I have one from last year's event. The best I can offer is to scour the Merrie Monarach website-- see if there's information there or, perhaps, an email address. Good luck!

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