‘Ūniki

                                 Graduation

I don't consider what is being done today as Hawaiian hula.  There is not much remaining that people my age enjoy and recognize. It is only exercising. It exists today only to keep modern audiences happy...I don't want to offend any hula instructors because they have a right to create, but there is no one around to keep them in line today. They are on their own. There are no boundaries or definitions anymore. You make the cake the way you want. I make the cake the way I want.

-- Aunty Alice Namakelua



An ‘ūniki, a real ‘ūniki, marks the successful transmission of a traditional body of knowledge. An ‘ūniki is built of old stuff passed on in the old way, one step at a time, the foundation first, then the house. An 'ūniki says: "These hula, these dances of my teacher, my teacher's teacher, and the teachers before them, have again been learned as they were taught. They live -- teachers and dances -- for yet another generation,"


An ‘ūniki, a real ‘ūniki, makes a small stone of you. A stone placed on the edge of a mat. A stone tied to the bottom edge of a fishnet. You help to hold things down, keep them in place when the wind rises or the current tugs. It helps, of course, if you aren't the only stone on the mat or sinker on the net.


Thirty-three students of Hālau Mōhala ‘Ilima (thirty-one from Papa Hi‘ikua and one each from the ‘Alalā and ‘Apapane) girded on their pā'ū on Sunday, August 12 at Kahua o Mali‘o, Kāne‘ohe, in public demonstration of the body of hula knowledge they've acquired over the last five years (and more) of study. The actual ceremonies of their ‘ūnki hu‘e lepo occurred earlier at Atherton Hall in Kokokahi, the details of which belong not to the public but to the graduates alone. They are ‘ōlapa now, duly taught, tested, and finished dancers, the keepers of a body of traditional knowledge. Stones that hold things in place.


There's still hope, Aunty. We promise. 

Kākua Pā‘ū


Kākua pā‘ū ‘ahu nā kīkepa

I ka pā‘ū no‘eno‘e i ho‘olu‘ua

I ho‘okākua ‘ia a pa‘a i luna o ka imu

Kū ka hu‘a o ka pali o ka wai kapu

He ku‘ina pā‘ū pali no Kupehau

I holo a pa‘a ia, pa‘a e Honokāne.


Gird on the pā‘ū, don the kīkepa

The dyed and printed pā‘ū

That is wrapped and fastened above the imu

Draped like a fluted cliff of sacred water

A five-layered cliff-skirt of Kupehau

Threaded by the kaula holo until it is bound,

made fast is Honokāne.

PHOTO GALLERIES

ARCHIVED PAGES

Pā‘ū  |  Mali‘o 1  |  Mali‘o 2  |  Mali‘o 3

Mali‘o 4  |  Mali‘o 5  |  Nā ‘Ōlapa