In Partnership with the Southern Weekend

2019 Miss and Master Keiki Hula winners reflect on the big win

Hālau Hi'iakaināmakalehua walks away with two big titles

In celebration of Keiki Hula’s 45th anniversary, halau from across Hawaii participated in the Queen Liliʻuokalani Keiki Hula Hōʻike, a special four-night TV event packed with history, hula, and culture in honor of Hawaii’s last reigning monarch. Since there was no competition this year, the 2019 Miss and Master Keiki Hula award winners will retain their titles for another year. Here the two reflect on what it means to win such big titles for their halau.

Zyon Blaze ʻAuikekaiola Telles-Kuwahara and Kaimana Friez both dance for Hālau Hi’iakaināmakalehua, and in 2019 the pair walked away with both the Miss and Master Keiki Hula awards.

“Winning Master Keiki Hula is just unbelievable,” says Telles-Kuwahara. “It’s something hard to describe because I couldn’t even believe it the night that I won it.”

“Winning Miss Keiki Hula feels so surreal, I guess,” Friez adds. “I love making my family and my hula sisters and my kumu proud. That feeling is better than winning.”

Both Telles-Kuwahara and Friez had the opportunity to travel to Japan and meet halau from another country during Keiki Hula Japan.

“The dancers there were so amazing, and I loved being able to watch them,” Friez said. “It’s just so amazing that hula isn’t just in one spot and that it’s everywhere.”

Before joining, Hālau Hi’iakaināmakalehua was the only halau Telles-Kuwahara had seen dance. His mother had him join the halau, and he ended up enjoying himself. The rest is history!

“Hula has given me a lot. It made me realize how important it is to perpetuate our culture,” he says. “Dancing hula is more than a meaning, it’s a feeling. It’s hard to describe in words, but as you dance it, that’s how you describe it. Hula is life!”

Friez says that more important than winning the title is making her halau proud.

“And dancing as hard as you can!” she adds.