Preserving Hawaiian Culture

By Robert Cazimero, executive director and president, Wahea Foundation

When my late kumu, Maiki Aiu Lake, requested before she passed away that I teach only men, I knew it would change my life forever. Thirty-seven years ago, I started Halau Na Kamalei O Lililehua, passing on the teachings of my kumu to men from all different walks of life who all share one trait – a strong passion to learn hula, the art of Hawaiian dance, expressing everything we hear, see, smell, taste, touch and feel. Since then, we have traveled the world to share Hawaiian culture through hula in more than 30 different destinations.


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Robert Cazimero

In 2010, we established the Wahea Foundation because there was a need to preserve and protect the fundamental aspects of Hawaiian culture as expressed though hula, as well as to teach, support and perpetuate it, with a strong emphasis on male hula.

Through Wahea Foundation, we were able to spearhead different initiatives, such as bringing hula workshops to Southern California.

This year we are returning to Hilo for the Merrie Monarch Festival’s 50th anniversary, and we need community support more than ever. The last time we were on stage at Merrie Monarch was in 2005 when we won the overall title. For the 50th anniversary, I am bringing 50 past and current haumana with me for a very special ho’ike performance. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime performance because for the first time, all of my men will be with me on one stage, one night. In order to make this happen, we need to raise money.

Wahea Foundation is holding a fundraiser at Whole Foods Market Kahala for Community Support Day Wednesday, Feb. 6, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Whole Foods will donate 5 percent of its sales that day to Wahea Foundation, which will offset Merrie Monarch expenses for Halau Na Kamalei. The all-day fundraiser will feature live entertainment, hula performances, cultural demonstrations, cooking demonstrations showcasing Whole Foods products by Kelvin Ro of Diamond Head Market & Grill, and so much more.

For more information or to donate, please visit, call 595-8888 or email

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