YMCA volunteer Carolee Nishi honored for teaching hula to hundreds of keiki

2019 Miriam Likelike Kekauluohi Achievement Award winner

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At this year’s Queen Lili’uokalani Keiki Hula Competition, Kumu Carolee Nishi is being honored with the Miriam Likelike Kekauluohi Achievement Award for teaching hula to hundreds of children at the Nu’uanu YMCA over the past 51 years.

Nishi spends her time at YMCA volunteering at the Hawaiian Studies program, Hula Hui o Kapunahala, where she does as much as she can to promote the Hawaiian culture. She says she shouldn’t be honored with the award because she didn’t do it alone. “With the Y, we’re all volunteers,” Nishi explains. “So I commend our people for their duration and being committed.”

When it comes to the Hawaiian Studies program at the YMCA, Nishi says she tries to make it as formal as possible. “We do the hula — ancient, modern. We do ukulele, guitar, we sing,” she explains. “Our job is, number one, to promote the culture.” She says she continues to volunteer because the many experiences she gets out of it.

The Kalihi-Pālama Culture & Arts Society established the award for the first time time in 2018 to recognize the exemplary support of keiki hula by a wahine in the community. The awardʻs namesake, Miriam Likelike Kekāuluohi Keahelapalapa Kapili, known officially as Princess Likelike, was sister to Liliʻuokalani and Kalākaua, Hawaii’s last two reigning monarchs, and Prince Leleiōhoku. She was also mother to Princess Ka’iulani.

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.

For more information: keikihula.org