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Hula O Nā Keiki competition returns to celebrate its 30th year on Maui

Zane Mathias
Hula O Nā Keiki
2019 Master Hula o nā Keiki Overall Winner Marcus William Kamakanamakamaeokeakua Nichols

Maui's largest hula competition returns next month after a two-year hiatus. The Kaʻanapali Beach Hotel's Hula O Nā Keiki competition will be celebrating its 30th running on Nov. 10.

Thirteen participants from seven hālau hula from Maui, Oʻahu and Japan will be competing in this year's event.

"It's our first year where we're inviting groups larger than two," said Mike White, general manager of the Kaʻanapali Beach Hotel. "This year, we're allowing groups to come in and perform."

Past competitions included a pālua category, as well as a solo keiki competition. Previous years also put a focus on songs and chants from Maui. White says this year's competition will highlight songs from Maui.

Zane Mathias
Hula O Nā Keiki
2019 Miss Hula O Nā Keiki Overall Winner Haily Kamakahukilani Nāwahine Nascimento from Hālau Nā Mamo o Puʻuanahulu

White tells HPR the event provides a venue and activity for keiki to prepare for higher levels of hula competition.

The competition began in 1990, to provide a venue and activity for keiki between 5 and 17 years old to prepare for higher levels of hula competition. But White says the competition is a way to give back to the Native Hawaiian community.

"It really started from a commitment the hotel made many years ago to support the Hawaiian culture, and help its perpetuation and preservation," he said. "I've lived here all my life. My family has been here many years. And I have always felt that because the visitor industry benefits from the Hawaiian culture, we have not only the responsibility, but we also have the resources with which to help with the perpetuation."

White tells HPR the competition wouldn't be possible without the help of former staff members Anthony 'Akoni' Akana and Kanoʻeau Della Torre. They created the competition rules and got in touch with judges and hālau for the contest's first year.

Over the years, White says the relationships with different hālau hula and the Native Hawaiian community have evolved and solidified because of the hotel's commitment to them.

"They realize we are a property that will give back to the culture, give back to the community without the expectation of anything in return," he said. "That's the way we roll."

The 30th Hula O Na Keiki competition will be held from Nov. 10-12. More information can be found at

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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