Hula Conference, Charity Walk

Culture is not only part of our island heritage, it’s a major reason visitors come to Hawaii. And there’s probably no more cherished, and unique, element of our culture than the hula. The granddaddy of them all is April’s Merrie Monarch Festival. When I lived on the Big Island in the 1980s, I could see then how hula’s popularity and prestige were surging and how it attracted halau and fans from all over the world.

Bringing together residents and visitors to perpetuate the hula is the goal of the sixth annual International Waikiki Hula Conference, scheduled for May 11-13 at the Hawaii Convention Center. The conference, sponsored by the Waikiki Improvement Association since 2007, was founded to recognize the importance of hula to Hawaii and stimulate interest among visitors who identify Hawaiian culture as a key reason for vacationing in Hawaii. I supported this event as mayor of Honolulu and continue to believe in its importance as a forum for exchange and communication.

Conference attendees will enjoy a rare opportunity to learn hula from 40 of Hawaii’s most revered kumu hula and cultural practitioners. New kumu hula to the conference this year are Ed Collier of Halau ‘O Na Pua Kukui and Lilinoe Lindsey of Ka Pa Nani ‘O Lilinoe.

Hula aficionados of all levels can choose from more than 80 workshops and seminars on such diverse topics as implement-making, lei-making, lauhala weaving and, of course, hula. In keeping with the event’s Lei Day theme, flowers and lei will be the focus of mele (song) and hula, both ancient and modern.

The event also will feature Hawaii’s first international juried quilt competition. Produced by Hawaiian quilt expert Mary Haunani Cesar, the competition will feature quilts from around the world based on the Hawaiian flower theme. The conference also is partnering with Mele Mei, a series of Hawaiian music events hosted by the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts.

One of the most exciting things about the conference is that participants will be able to perform the hula they have learned during 10 ho’ike (exhibition) shows nightly on stages throughout Waikiki, including the Kuhio Beach Hula Mound.

This premier weekend of hula, music and cultural learning is a must for visitors and residents alike. While many kumu hula and halau travel regularly around the world to share hula, the International Waikiki Hula Conference gives participants the opportunity to experience and learn the art of hula from some of the world’s best practitioners and teachers, all under one roof.

The International Waikiki Hula Conference welcomes dancers of all experience levels and backgrounds. Kama’aina will receive a special rate of $250. Groups of 10 or more will also receive a special rate. For more information, visit and “like” the International Waikiki Hula Conference on Facebook. The last day to register is, appropriately, Lei Day, May 1.

Charity Walk

The 34th annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk is just around the corner. Sponsored by the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association and our many partners, the event takes place each May across the state. Last year, nearly 11,000 walkers raised $1.155 million to benefit local charities. More than $23 million has been raised since the walk’s inception, all of it exclusively for charitable groups in Hawaii.

I joined this year’s overall chairman Jerry Gibson, who heads up Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, at the kickoff rally. Judging by the enthusiasm, this year promises to be even more exciting and successful, which bodes well not only for the participants but the organizations benefiting from the proceeds.

Oahu’s Visitor Industry Charity Walk will be Saturday, May 19, 7 a.m. at McCoy Pavilion at Ala Moana Beach Park.

Dates for the Neighbor Islands are: Molokai and Lanai, Saturday, May 5, contact the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association, 244-8625; Hawaii, Saturday, May 12, contact Bambi Lau, Hilton Waikoloa Village, 886-2884, or Freddy Lau, Kingland by Hilton Grand Vacation Club, 881-3065; Kauai: Saturday, May 12, contact Denise Wardlow or Julie Pavao, Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas, 827-8726; and Maui, Saturday, May 12, Contact the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association, 244-8625.

Walkers need not be hotel employees or HLTA members. Anyone can join in a morning of fun, food, fabulous entertainment and a little exercise to raise funds for a good cause. Entry fee is $35 for adults and $25 for those under age 18 (including infants). Kauai has an entry fee of $35 for all walkers, regardless of age. For more information, 923-0407 or or

“Put Your Best Slippah Forward” for a terrific cause and join the Visitor Industry Charity Walk on your island.