Pearl City Kumu Hula Lindsey Recognized For Outstanding Career

Kumu Hula Joan Sniffen Lindsey. Photo from Hula Preservation Society.

Kumu Hula Joan Sniffen Lindsey. Photo from Hula Preservation Society.

Last month, family and close friends gathered to honor and celebrate Kumu Hula Joan Sniffen Lindsey, or as others know her, “Auntie Joanie.”

The gathering recognized Lindsey with Hula Grill Restaurant’s annual “I Ola Mau Ka Hula” award.

Now in its sixth year, the award acknowledges those who have assisted in the perpetuation of hula within the community. For the past five years, the Hula Preservation Society has had a hand in assisting with the selection of recipients. Selecting Lindsey, a Pearl City-based teacher, was an easy decision.

“She’s just a very gracious person and as a teacher, she’s one of those who is very strict but loving, and she’s just a joy,” said Hula Preservation Society executive director Maile Loo.

“Her life has been dedicated to the hula and sharing with people of all ages.”

Lindsey has been dancing hula since age 16, and her teaching career spans approximately 60 years. A Kumu Hula graduate from renowned hula master Lokalia Montgomery, she also enjoyed a career of dancing with Lena Guerrero and Lena Machado’s troupes. Lindsey also is the only living officer of the Hula Teachers Association, which was led by na Kumu Henry Pa, Maiki Aiu Lake and Lahoma Tuck.

For Lindsey, receiving the award was, as she recalled, “awesome.”

“I can’t find the right words to express it,” she said, “but I was so overwhelmed and taken aback.”

The celebration itself was something she enjoyed, as it also brought her son home for a visit from Hawaii Island.

Though Lindsey fills the role of teacher, learning is something she has never stopped doing.

“I learn as I teach hula … Many of the things that I learn, I’m learning as I’m teaching.”

Her favorite aspect of the job remains in seeing the success and growth of students.

“When the children come to hula and if they have something special, you don’t see it, but you can feel it,” she said.

“And when you work with this child, a child that everybody said ‘oh, (they) have no sense of timing (or) two left feet’ and all of those things, it’s never true, it’s never true.

“Some of them take forever to do what to other dancers is very easy. But you know, once they get it, I think that’s the most beautiful thing for a kumu hula to see.”

The Hula Preservation Society seeks to provide resources for the community by conducting oral histories with elder living hula masters.

These are collected for a library from which others may learn about their lives and history through hula.

For more information on the Society, visit or find them on Facebook.