Manu Boyd composes Kahiko mele exclusively for the 44th Annual Queen Lili’uokalani Keiki Hula Competition

Inspiring keiki to explore their own genealogy

Sponsored by Kamehameha Schools

Kumu Hula Manu Boyd is a prominent figure in the Hawaiian community and recognized as a Hawaiian language and cultural expert, as well as a composer, chanter, choreographer, producer and writer. The kumu hula of Hālau o ke ‘A’ali’i Kū Makani is also the composer of the chants you will hear at this year’s Queen Lili’uokalani Keiki Hula Competition.

Boyd says he was inspired to honor Queen Lili’uokalani’s great-great grandparents, Keaweaheulu and Ululani. “This would be an opportunity, first of all, for the keiki to learn new mele about traditional subjects,” Boyd explains, “but also for them to have a sense of desire and maybe sparking an interest in who their own kupuna are.”

The mele for the keiki kane, or boys, is called, “He Inoa No Keaweaheulu,” which means, “A Name Chant for Keaweaheulu.” Boyd explains that Keaweaheulu was an alii who was born on Oahu in Waianae and was very powerful and highly respected. He is also very much associated with Kamehameha the Great. “He really helped him as a strategist and an adviser and a councilor to help Kamehameha to conquer all of the islands,” Boyd says.

He also wrote the mele, “He Inoa No Ululani.” Ululani was a high chiefess of Hilo, but had strong alii lineage from Hawaii Island as well as Maui. “I wrote her mele in a way that almost wrote itself,” Boyd says. He explains that Ululani was a celebrated poet of her time. “I wrote it as a haku mele, or a composer, for a haku mele, or composer.”

Boyd explains that months before the competition, the mele are created and sent out to all the kumu hula. They then need to interpret how they think it should be performed. “It’s really interesting to see the number and the variety of 20-something groups performing the same mele,” Boyd says. “Every one of them is unique.”

The 44th Annual Queen Lili’uokalani Keiki Hula Competition will take place on July 25-27 at the Neal S Blaisdell Arena. It will be streamed live on K5.

About Keiki Hula:
On September 11, 1976, the Kalihi-Palama Culture & Arts Society, Inc. organized a festival to honor Hawai’i’s last reigning monarch, Queen Lili’uokalani. The day-long event was held at A’ala Park and featured multi-ethnic dance performances, Hawaiian crafts demonstrations, a pageant of Hawai’i’s mo’i wahine, and the first keiki hula competition.

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