HILO — It was Maui’s Tori Hulali Canha of Halau Ke‘alaokamaile who took the Miss Aloha Hula title at Merrie Monarch last night by a slim margin of three points.
“I’m just super-excited and super-honored to be able to represent everybody how I wanted to,” said a tearful and emotional Canha afterwards. “I wanted to make them proud. I’m so humble.”
Canha said she had practiced and prepared for the competition “so much,” but that it was all worth it.
Yesterday’s win marks the second Miss Aloha Title for kumu hula Keali‘i Reichel. In 2009, his contestant Cherissa Kane took the Miss Aloha title. In 2010, his Miss Aloha contestant Oralani Koa won the Hawaiian Language award.
Last year, the halau also swept the wahine kahiko, auana, and overall divisions.
“This is always a surprise,” said Reichel. “We come to the competition to do our best, and we bring Maui’s songs to the table.”
For kahiko, Canha performed a mele about an ocean journey to the bays of Pi‘ilani, the waters of Ke‘anae, and Lele on Maui. A shorter version of that song is now known as “Ka Loke O Maui.”
Dressed in a beautiful, red pau skirt, and head and neck lei made of several rows of roses, she seemed transported to those places in the Valley Isle.
Her auana was a mele about love and affection through the image of a blossom entwined with fragrant maile.
Reichel said Canha was chosen for the Miss Aloha Hula competition because she was ready, and that she had been under consideration for several years.
Canha, 21, of Wailuku, teaches hula and Hawaiian studies to elementary students at Kamehameha Schools. She has been dancing hula since the age of three.
As Miss Aloha Hula, she will become an ambassador of hula to the world, but says she will also continue teaching, which she enjoys.
“I’m very proud of her,” said Canha’s hula sister Nalei Pokipala. “She did Maui proud. She did her family proud.”
When choosing mele for the competition, Reichel says he follows his inner intuition: “I do stuff that I’m attracted to. In my old age, I’ve come to realize if you’re attracted to something it’s important to figure out why, and there’s a reason.”
That intuition is coupled with research before choosing a mele, he said, and as the months progress, hidden meanings come to light, adding depth to the song’s meaning as it is being danced.
Choosing the winner last night was a tough call for judges, given all of the excellent performances exhibiting different styles of chant as well as mele about places ranging from Lanai to Niagara Falls in New York.
Canha was followed by Manalani Mili Hokoana English of Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka in second place, Makanani Akiona of Halau Mohala ‘Ilima in third place, Chelsea Kehaulani Tacub in fourth place, and Maria Ka‘iulani Kanehailua in fifth place.
Puanana Ashley Reis-Moniz of Ka Pa Hula O Ka Lei Lehua took the Hawaiian Language Award.
WAILUKU – The Aloha Initiative co-founder Keith Regan today announced that community meetings are scheduled on Sunday, May 1, at 3 p.m. at Kahului Hongwanji Mission social hall and Tuesday, May 3, at 6:30 p.m. at Door of Faith Church to provide information to prospective host families and other volunteers wanting to help with The Aloha Initiative, a project led by the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui to provide citizens of Japan who have been displaced by the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis with a warm and welcome home.
The meetings will include a presentation by Dr. Al Arensdorf, a Red Cross trainer in disaster mental health and in psychological first aid, on: (1) what to expect – the “normal emotional reactions” to earthquake/tsunami disasters; (2) how to use an evidence-based intervention called, “Psychological First Aid,” both for host families and disaster workers and for persons displaced by disaster; and (3) tips for both adults and children as to how to cope and how to recover by being resilient.
Regan of Wailuku and Rev. Jeffrey Soga of Kahului, along with Roy Tominaga of Honolulu returned from the Tohoku region last Friday after meeting with government and nonprofit organization leaders, including Fukushima City Mayor Takanori Seto, Miyagi Prefecture Councilor Toshiaki Sugawara, and Sendai City Deputy Mayor Nobuyoshi Inaba to discuss The Aloha Initiative. A press conference was held in Fukushima City and, since then, the program has received TV and newspaper exposure in Japan. The tremendous publicity has resulted in The Aloha Initiative phone in Japan ringing off the hook with inquiries and requests to sign up for the program.
To date, over 130 families throughout Hawaii have signed up to open their hearts and homes to the people of Japan, and over $150,000 in pledges has been received to help defray the transportation and insurance costs. “More host families and donations are needed to meet the demand,” said co-founder Lynn Araki-Regan.
“We are so grateful for the many students from various schools such as Emmanuel Lutheran School, King Kekaulike High School, St. Anthony Junior-Senior High School, St. Anthony Grade School, Kamehameha Schools – Maui Campus, Pomaikai Elementary School, Kansha Preschool, Wailuku Hongwanji Preschool, Kahului Hongwanji Preschool, and Baldwin High School as well as members of our Maui Nui community who took time out of their busy schedules to use their creative skills in doing scrunchies, headbands, necklaces, artwork, poetry, and other expressions of hope for the children of the Tohoku region of Japan,” said Regan. “When we presented the gifts to those living in the extremely chilly shelters, they were extremely touched.”
To sign up to volunteer, visit www.AlohaInitiative.com or call 280-1299.
HONOLULU – The Hawai‘i State Health Department recently complied with a request by President Barack Obama for certified copies of his original Certificate of Live Birth, which is sometimes referred to in the media as a “long form” birth certificate. More Information…
WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii – Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa is pleased to join A&B Properties, Inc and Marriott Resorts Hawaii in announcing the long-awaited groundbreaking of the County’s first airport hotel in Kahului. More Information…
Years after the idea was originally proposed – and approved – ground was broken this morning for Maui’s first airport hotel. A&B Properties and R.D. Olson Development held a groundbreaking ceremony this morning at 10 a.m. on the 3.35-acre parcel that will become a “Courtyard by Marriott.” More Information…
WAILUKU – Mick Fleetwood, legendary drummer and co-founding member of the iconic band, Fleetwood Mac, will show up with a bucket and a bar of soap to help earn money for American Red Cross Hawaii Chapter Japan relief efforts at Ho’ole’a Terrace at Kehalani’s “Aloha for Japan Celebrity Carwash”, this Saturday in Wailuku. More Information…
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