Culturised Hawaiian Hula | The Story Telling Of Dance

Makani sits down with Hawaiian Studies Student of Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, Andrew Kalani Simeona, to discuss some basics of Hawaiian culture and the art of storytelling through dancing in a Hula Hālau and Tahitian.

MAKANI: Hey, what's up? Howzit. Aloha.  It's me Makani. Welcome to Culturised.  This is where we get a chance to talk story, sit down and share and talk culture with some of my friends some guest speakers. Some everyday Hawaiians and find out how culture is involved in our lives. Iʻm humbled and privileged to be sitting across from this brother. He and I are usually on a stage and we're usually entertaining tourists and entertaining people. But uh, something interesting about him, that's why I wanted to bring him on. Howʻs about a round of applause, my good friend Andrew Kalani Simeona. How are you brother?

KALANI SIMEONA: Oh, pretty good.

MAKANI: How's it been? First of all before we get started, of course, because we are cultured people, I'm going to present to you a lei kukui. But, I do have to present it to you in a way that they told me to at the CDC.

KALANI SIMEONA: Yes

MAKANI: There you go. So that is for you the lei kukui. You can either put it on, but I don't want to mess up the Tahitian pearls on the neck.  Man, look at you. You're all like uh, just what do they call that? Flossing? With your pearls. Did you pick those pearls?

KALANI SIMEONA: Oh my gosh. No actually, I got it from um, I think about a vendor like one of the heivas that competed for. I think 2014-ish, yeah.

MAKANI: We're gonna get into all the dance things about us. So, something that's interesting. the reason why I wanted to sit down with you is um, you know, we talk culture all the time. First of all where are you from? What ahupuaʻa? What moku? 

KALANI SIMEONA: So um, I guess just start at the beginning like, as all great moʻolelo start. My older brother and my sisters and mom and dad,  they're from here. However, they moved to Washington before I was born and then had me in Washington state. And then couple months after, the house opened up near my grandparents so like, they moved back to...

MAKANI: Oahu?

KALANI SIMEONA: Yes.

MAKANI: Where on Oahu?

KALANI SIMEONA:  Kahaluʻu.

MAKANI: Country.

KALANI SIMEONA: Yes, very country.

MAKANI:  And you're still there now?

KALANI SIMEONA:  Well...

MAKANI:   Kind of. Youʻre on the Koʻolaupoko side.

KALANI SIMEONA: Yes.

MAKANI:   Or, Koʻolauloa side that would be right?

KALANI SIMEONA: So, like we moved like, kind of like, central Kaneohe side. Um, kind of a big change because me, I'm a country boy. So like when I keep on hearing like cars pass, or like,  you know like....

MAKANI:   You cringe? So coming here today, you were freaking out?

KALANI SIMEONA: Yes.

MAKANI:   So, from Kahaluʻu, grew up there.  What was it like growing up in the home? I always ask this question. I always talk about it because some of us, you know culture wasn't blatantly in our face. Like, our tutu our grandparents or parents didn't pull us on the side and was like, “This is how you need to be as a kanaka. This is how you need to be as whoever you are.”  Was it like that at home? Or was it more observation of what your parents or your grandparents did? What was culture like for you?

KALANI SIMEONA: So, it was more um observation really. A curiosity because as some families over here, they like both parents are working.  It's a real big struggle, you know trying to live in paradise.  So both parents were working and  my grandparents that are that were living, they're Filipino.  They're full Filipino. So I never really did have that cultural side.

MAKANI:   Well what about the Filipino side? Did that , was there a lot of things on the Filipino side that they taught you or you observed from them that you have in your adult life now?

KALANI SIMEONA:  Yes it was like. Um like, they'll be like a little superstitions like Filipino superstitions. Like my grandma used to always be like,  no, don't do that. You'll be taken away.  

MAKANI:   Like, your house had the wooden spoon and fork on the wall.

KALANI SIMEONA:  Yes basically.

MAKANI:   The wooden carabao next to the.... see all those things.  It's funny we don't think about it back.  Then, but they're very cultural.  So, you had more of the Filipino side of your culture growing up?

KALANI SIMEONA:  In the beginning it was more balanced. Like um, probably when I got into, like eight to seven years of age where I started hanging around with friends. And, I also got to know extended family that I was more into heavily into ʻike Hawaii.  So that's where I kind of like shifted.

MAKANI:   Did you find things that were similar? Or was it you know, with the Filipino side and the Hawaiian side? Did you find things similar or was it different for you well?

KALANI SIMEONA:    I would say more so with a cultural aspect side is having ties with family. Yeah, everybody knew everybody in a sense or knew of like their name. You know that we still kind of contact each other like every now and then to check up.

MAKANI:   What high school did you go to?

KALANI SIMEONA:    So, I went to Castle high school.

MAKANI:   Castle high school?

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yes.

MAKANI:   What are they then the knights?

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yes.

MAKANI:   Yep, the Castle Knights. Wait, so you from Kahaluʻu.  Would you catch the bus?

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yes.

MAKANI:   Wow.  So you went to Castle from Kahaluʻu, growing up in the country. Was Castle high school very country? Was there a lot of culture, I should say, at Castle high school? Whether it's ʻike Hawaii, whether it's Filipino or was it a good balance?

KALANI SIMEONA:    You know, my generation over there, it was slowly shifting.  When I was there , me and my Friends, we started the the Polynesian club. We're really happy with the Polynesian dance program over there. So, we'll do like may day and hoʻike. So it started to shift and now it's continuing on today.

MAKANI:   So it was high school that... so we're going to talk about being a dancer. It was high school that got you into that?

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yes.

MAKANI:   Speaking of... you're from the windward side,  I got to say mahalo to King Windward Nissan getting you out of your loan or your lease into a new vehicle. Got to thank Uniqlo over there at the Ala Moana Shopping Center.  Aligned Mortgage and jam's world for giving us an opportunity to talk culture and share culture.
Now we're talking about dancing. You and I have danced. So, the urge and the drive to dance started in high school? At Castle you guys started a Polynesian club?

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yes.

MAKANI:   What was the first dance, Tahitian or hula? That you that you started doing?

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh, I mean for me personally, it started with hula first. And then, when I started to like, you know, progress in my high school years... then I started going to Tahitian and all the other cultures.

MAKANI:   Was, in your opinion, what's more difficult? I know people are going to be, “Like what?” Hula or Tahitian?

KALANI SIMEONA:    I would have to say hula, because it's so precise.

MAKANI:   Yeah. Who did you learn uh, specifically from anybody hula when you first started dancing?

KALANI SIMEONA:    Um, so, my high school kumu was Lehua Beltrame-Tevaga.

MAKANI:   Yeah, yeah, yeah.

KALANI SIMEONA:    She used to be um, she used to dance at Tihati's, and even her husband.  She you know like.... hula and for dancing, it's a family affair. You bring the ohana in at some point in time.

MAKANI:   So you started dancing. Did that kind of inspire, kind of what you're doing now? Because now you decided to study, Hawaiian, ʻike Hawaii. Was that was that kind of the path from dancing? What was it that made you think man, “I want to make this. I want to study ʻike Hawaii in a university setting?  What was it that pursued or made you think that you wanted to do that? 

KALANI SIMEONA:    So you know, I gotta say, if I asked like, the six-year-old me back then... I would say I want to be an artist and go to school for art. But you know, as the years went on you know, growing up, what I really wanted with ʻike Hawaii is really study like literature. Study media storytelling and how can we incorporate that into today instead of only viewing it as something ancient or something kahiko. Like placing it in that time frame.

MAKANI:   So you're currently going to University of Hawai'i, but you're on a break right now. You've been in a bunch of programs though and you've actually been active on campus as far as the Hawaiian culture goes. Did you go did you go to Hilo too?

KALANI SIMEONA:    No. I was about to,  but it was just like, one, I didn't have family over there. Two, because like the funds and all that so...

MAKANI:   What are you studying, uh I was going to say “pacifically”.  I just had this conversation, Specifically, at University of Hawaii? 

KALANI SIMEONA:    So, Iʻm majoring in ʻike Hawaii and my concentration is moʻolelo oiwi. Which has to do with more of the literature, media, storytelling side. 

MAKANI:   Are you coming from a point where you want to collect stories? Or you want to be the storyteller or create stories?

KALANI SIMEONA:    Well, right now, like I really want to study how can we progress in our storytelling. So more like story telling.

MAKANI:   Is there as you're studying now from a cultural standpoint? An ʻike Hawaii standpoint?  Are there people today that are creating new stories? I mean we hear, like you said, we hear all these stories, these moʻolelo, about ka wā kahiko. About the old days. Is there anybody writing stories, so a hundred years from now we'll hear a story from today? Is anybody doing that right now?  I mean that was intense as back then, right?

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yeah, because, I mean if you look at the nupepa, the newspapers, they published all these moʻolelo in a newspaper because of something that was occurring and in kind of current modern times. So for me, I'm not too sure if people are creating, you know, new moʻolelo with akua and all that. But you know, right now, it's like you have stuff going on such as the pandemic or the um, you know...

MAKANI:  So, you know, 100 years from now, we will be reading stories in the newspaper about a Hawaiian perspective of the pandemic. Have you written any stories yourself, or do would you have a desire to author stories or haku stories?

KALANI SIMEONA:    Well actually, I started reading um a new book that came out, Nānā I Ke Kumu.

MAKANI:  Version three?

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yes! Version three. Thatʻs just like, ʻike bombs like left and right going on.

MAKANI:  Let's put ourselves in the position of okay, so you and I are at a luʻau. We're on stage right, um you know we get deep into culture and we talk about cultural things. Sometimes it reminds me that we need to take a step back and go to the simplicity of who we are as Hawaii and cultural. Uh, not a lot of people know the simple things. Like the word Hawaii, right? Everybody hears it everybody thinks it's just the place. But when you break it down, how would you explain to somebody not from Hawaii, what Hawaii is as a word. Like Ha, wai and i... and what would your manaʻo on that be? Your thoughts.

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh, on Hawaii? Oh, I mean so, Hawaii to me, is just the birthing sands of our ancestors. That's basically like how I view Hawaii.  Because again, to a Hawaiian, you have generations upon generations of your ancestors being born on this land and even some people have have ohana that's still living on those grounds today.

MAKANI:  Yeah, the sands of our birth. I always remember this one,  that kupuna have always told me.  So whenever you say the word Hawaii, you're automatically giving somebody three blessings.

HA - because it's our breath of life. WAI - and we know that wai, without water, we are nothing that is the life-giving water. and I - is actually for Iʻo or the akua on high for Iʻo. So Hawaii is three blessings you give every time you say that word. You're blessing somebody three times with breath with water and akua.

Aloha, we hear that word all the time. We throw it around at luaus every time we entertain. We're like oh, aloha and people always like, hey, aloha. In your manaʻo, in your opinion what is is aloha to you?

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh man. Aloha to me, it just encompasses like..... for me it's like the granddaddy of all values of ʻike Hawaii. Because not only aloha is you know, to express love to someone. But also you know, it is a way of life. Like something to uphold.  Something to like.... the words that I would associate aloha to say kuleana or you know, being pono. You know being on that righteous path.

MAKANI:  So kuleana of course, our responsibility and pono of just doing things right. When people come to Hawaii, you know they usually see us, which is always, often times funny because they just think beach and luʻau. And they just see us shaking our thing. But I always try and make it a point to not only entertain our visitors, but educate them. What's one of the things you like to do when we're entertaining visitors or even if they're local people? What is do you have one thing that you'd like to make sure that you share with them?  I mean besides entertaining them?

KALANI SIMEONA:    I mean because part of um, again we'll kind of like segueway into my experiences with UH. But I'd always like to I guess, open a door for them, of like curiosity. Like, “Oh, I want to see where are they dancing about.” Because you know there's a monologue before each dance.

MAKANI:  Exactly. So sometimes they see us and they have really no idea what we're dancing. If that's Tahitian, if that's hula, if that's Samoan. I like that. So one of your goals is to make sure they understand what you're dancing. Because people come up to us, right,  “What was that all about?” So another big thing that we have culturally for ʻike Hawaii is value.  You already talked about kuleana, which is responsibility. Pono, which is just basically doing things right. What  other values to you are important that not a lot of people realize? Just generally.

KALANI SIMEONA:    Well,  just generally? Like one word answers?

MAKANI:  Or just Hawaiian culture you know. Like um, we talked kuleana. We talked pono.  We talked aloha. We talked ho'okipa. You know, hospitality being nice to people. Are there values that you could share with people? Hawaiian values that you would want to share with people just so they  see us in a whole different way? Rather than a couple guys in malos on the stage?

KALANI SIMEONA:    I guess one of the values that I want people to understand is like moʻokūauhau. Which is like a genealogy. Whether it be literally as opposed to l family genealogy. Or it can be knowledge based. Like who did your kumu learn from and  how did this practice come to be.

MAKANI:  So, moʻokūauhau, meaning genealogy. And a lot of times people think that genealogy is just direct family. But it's what's your dance genealogy? What is your art genealogy? Who did you learn from? Who did they learn from? So these are all these Hawaiian values that I love about. And so, that's a great thing about you studying ʻike Hawaii because sometimes we tend to only talk to the native Hawaiian demographic. But I always like to talk to that one's outside of that.

Thank you very much for hanging out with me. Mahalo nui Kalani for being here and taking the time out because I do got to say I called you last minute. I called you last minute. He ubered here from Kaneʻohe. So mahalo, mahalo, for that.

I'm going to put us on the spot right now because you know, you and I, when we get into conversations about ʻike Hawaii or about Hawaii or na mea Hawaii, about Hawaiian things, we go deep. Sometimes I have moments, like I brain fart and I'm just like, “I didn't even know these things, like the simplest things about Hawaii.” If a visitor, a tourist came up to me in a show and was like ,uh they asked me a simple quote like, “oh, I don't even know.” So we're gonna put ourselves on the spot and kumus, sorry if we don't get this right. Uh island colors and flowers are you good on those? Because that's like a simple question right?

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yeah. Because I can do colors.

MAKANI:  Let's start with moku o keawe – Hawaii island. Big Island

[Laughter]

KALANI SIMEONA:    Red.

MAKANI:  Off the bat. Red. Whatʻs their flower?

KALANI SIMEONA:    .......

MAKANI:  Um, lehua.

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh, my gosh....

MAKANI:  Lehua, right. Am I right? Yes! Got it! See?

KALANI SIMEONA:    I'm gonna punch myself in the face.... oh my gosh.

MAKANI:  The Lehua, it has itʻs own pandemic right not, right? Rapid Ohiʻa death. Anyway, okay so, Hawaii island we covered. what's that um uh.... Maui o piʻilani, Maui.

KALANI SIMEONA:    Thatʻs pink, yeah.

MAKANI:  Pink. Uh flower? That's uh, poʻe haʻole flower.... um

KALANI SIMEONA:    Some type of rose right?  I know ...

MAKANI:  It is the rose. The loke.

AUDIENCE: Lokelani

MAKANI:  Look at that!! From the gallery. Uh Molokai or Molokaʻi depending on who. Okay so this is on a tangent right now depending on who you talk to. Do you say Molokai or Molokaʻi?

KALANI SIMEONA:    For me, personally, I say Molokaʻi. However, I had worked with colleagues before that said Molokai that we're from Molokai.

MAKANI:  So there is always a good reference you always have to know who you're talking to when you say certain words. If I'm on Molokai, I'll say Molokai. If I'm off Molokai not talking to a Molokai person, I'll say Molokaʻi. so a huge difference in....

KALANI SIMEONA:    Especially when I'm writing on paper I'm like, “Okay, do I add the okina? Do I not? Am I misspelling it?”

MAKANI:   This is what I say, so, the okina is, that is that glottal stop in words. This is what I say, “If my tutu never used it, I'm not going to.” That's my disclaimer. Color of Molokai?

KALANI SIMEONA:    Gray. No?

MAKANI:   No!

KALANI SIMEONA:    No? Oh shoot!

MAKANI:   Green.

KALANI SIMEONA:    Green. Oh I'm thinking of...um...

MAKANI:   Weʻll get back to that. Flower?  Well, it's not really a flower, I wouldn't say it's a flower. The color is green but it's more of a tree. Well, I guess it could be a flower. Molokai. You know, used as laʻau lapaʻau, used as medicine. Used to make oil, uh used to dye bark.

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh, um, kukui.

MAKANI:   Uh, what's next to that? My island, Lanaʻi. Um, color?

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh see, yeah this is where like I totally blank out.  I'm sorry.

MAKANI:   Orange.

KALANI SIMEONA:    I knew there was an orange in there, but I didn't know which island.

MAKANI:   The flower is the same color. Well, itʻs not a flower. It's a vine. You can see it when you go to UH. You take that UH ramp. It's all growing in there.

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yes,  I see it... um...

MAKANI:   Used for medicine when you have a high fever.

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh, my gosh.

MAKANI:   Starts with a k like every other....kaunaʻoa. Let's move on. Okay, we're getting closer to your moku O'ahu. Color?

KALANI SIMEONA:    Ok, yeah, thatʻs yellow.

MAKANI:   Flower? I don't even know Oʻahu's flower...

KALANI SIMEONA:    No, yeah, me neither.

AUDIENCE: ʻIlima.

MAKANI:   Oh! Look at that. ʻIlima. Thatʻs right, it is. Uh, Kauaʻi.

KALANI SIMEONA:    Okay,  Kauai's purple.

MAKANI:   Kauai's purple. Flower? Ah, I donʻt even know Kauaiʻs either... Mokihana. Yes! Yes, they give you a rash at your neck, so if you ever if you ever luse mokihana, it burns.  Okay uh, Niʻihau, last one.

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh my gosh....

MAKANI:   No, I think I'm missing one, but we'll come back to it.

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh yeah, I'm stuck on that missing one, because I was like...

MAKANI:   Wait, let's go back. You said gray earlier. Gray belongs to Kahoʻolawe.

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yeah.

MAKANI:   Their flower like a vine as well.

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh that one is um...

MAKANI:   Same color as the Hawaiian color.

KALANI SIMEONA:    I know it but it's like um....

MAKANI:   You got 30 seconds

KALANI SIMEONA:    30 seconds , what? Ho, um...

MAKANI:   Hinahina

KALANI SIMEONA:    I was going to say Pele's hair

MAKANI:   Same thing. Okay last one, real quick. Niʻihau. Do we know ?

KALANI SIMEONA:    Niʻihau,  that one is white .

MAKANI:   White and pūpū. Shell.

KALANI SIMEONA:    Right, oh yeah.

MAKANI:   Itʻs the only island without a flower. Niʻihau shells. There you go. Man, that was rough for us. You see what happens when we get too deep in culture, sometimes we forget the simple things.

Hey, What's up? Howzit.  It is me Makani. Welcome to Culturised our extended version. You get a little bit of extra of us talking story about culture, sharing culture, learning culture. Uh, we barely made it through the color and flower of each island. That's like that's cultural suicide let me tell you.

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh no

MAKANI:   We were talking about hula and of course we do Tahitian. We do everything else.

Do you remember your first hula?

KALANI SIMEONA:   Oh my first hula would have to be Kawika.

MAKANI:   You're better than me.  Um well, okay, no let me finish, do you remember the choreography to your first hula?  That's more...

KALANI SIMEONA:   Okay never mind.  I retract.

MAKANI:    I remember my first one,  I just don't remember the choreography.  I'm the worst at that when it comes to hula. This is what I want to talk about. Again,  let's take it back to you and I on stage, and we talked about it earlier. And when visitors come they see us, 9 out of 10 times they have no idea what we're doing right. So some people don't understand when they see us in, like uh, how would you? Let's focus on the women. When you see the women in coconut bras and grass or moré skirts, that would be Tahitian right?

KALANI SIMEONA:   Yes.

MAKANI:    Okay, um and then grass skirts.  Hawaii never had grass skirts, right? It was  laʻe or ti leaf and we'd shred it and of course it would look like grass. So when when Hollywood came over, the visitors go, “Oh, look it's a grass skirt.” Grass skirts didn't come out till, I don't know,  Hollywood was introduced. 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Yeah.

MAKANI:    What do you prefer kahiko or auana?

KALANI SIMEONA:   Oh, it have to be kahiko. Yeah.

MAKANI:    Yeah?

KALANI SIMEONA:   Yeah.

MAKANI:    Kahiko for me as well.  Even if you take it back to Merrie Monarch.  I love watching kahiko night. Auana,  I hate to say it, but there's only so much crushed velvet and ilima right? Somebody do a fast song. Um, favorite kahiko that you've ever done? Favorite ancient hula?

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh man. that one would have to be...my favorite kahiko would be O Pupuhi Kalani.

MAKANI:    Whoa. Uh, I'm gonna brain fart. Totally don't remember what it's about, do you?

KALANI SIMEONA:   That one was uh, it was a Kamehameha one.

MAKANI:    Wow.

KALANI SIMEONA:   Yeah,

MAKANI:    Drum dance?

KALANI SIMEONA:    No. Um, just ipu heke. That one I performed back in 2014 when I went to the hula competition in Cali, Iā ʻOe E Ka Lā.

MAKANI:    Oh yeah, that's right.

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yeah. I did that for my solo performance. 

MAKANI:    Preparing for hula, a lot of people don't realize,  how many months did you prepare for that solo competition in California?

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh, I would say like, six months or seven months, around there.

MAKANI:    And so, you did that you did that one mele, which is that one song. You practiced for that long, how long were you on stage?  A lot of people don't realize this too right,  you practice what'd you say for 10 months?

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yeah, around, yeah.

MAKANI:    And how long was that song?

KALANI SIMEONA:   I would say about five minutes. Like five, six minutes max. That whole performance.

MAKANI:    Isn't it crazy? So that part of hula a lot of people don't realize even if as show dancers people think we just automatically know this stuff. But, it's the practice and this practice that goes into it.

What do you prefer hula, Tahitian or South Pacific dances? We talked about it earlier, but from let's say, from an entertainment standpoint. When we're on stage, what do you prefer?

KALANI SIMEONA:   Hula. Hula more.

MAKANI:    Hula, from Hawaii, of course. On a personal level, what do you prefer? Tahitian, Hawaiian, Samoan?

KALANI SIMEONA:   Oh man, it's just like one kind of close cut race but, it would have to be hula.

MAKANI:    Wow. Hula really is your thing.  I like that. Um are you still practicing now? Hula dancing now?

KALANI SIMEONA:   Not right now because I just set everything aside for just studying.

MAKANI:    So that was your last competition,  what 2010?

KALANI SIMEONA:   For hula? It was, yeah 2014.

MAKANI:    2014 sorry. In fact, I remember that because, we were doing a show and you just had come back and I remember you just won.  You came back and we're doing a show and I was like, “Man, this is an entertainer.” Um...auana, favorite number?

KALANI SIMEONA:   Oh hands down, it would be from Na Palapalai, Pili Ka Pekepeke.

MAKANI:    Wow! That's a good one. Tell us what that song is about.

KALANI SIMEONA:   Oh that one, it has to do with the many techniques of how to catch someone's attention and like...

MAKANI:     A lot of people don't realize how, I hate to use this word but sometimes, how perverse we are in hula. That was basically a song about how to get somebody's attention. Um, here's another interesting thing you may know it, you may not know it.  Auana, uh so, auana is a contemporary name for hula right? Which is when the introduction of ukulele, introduction of western instruments.  But the word auana, did you ever hear the story about the word auana? 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Actually...no, I havenʻt.

MAKANI:     So when military ships used to come over to Hawaii, and the freighters used to come over to the harbor, they'd always have the hula girls at the pier welcoming them. And so, what would happen when the sailors came off, or the visitors came off, the girls would auana off with them.  They would wander off with them. So as you see a hula girl wandering or auana-ing off with somebody. So that became hula auana.  It's interesting, I always like to joke about the kauna or the deeper meaning and I always would tell girls, I said, “Don't be a hula auana.” “But I love hula auana.”   “Just don't be like it.”  So that was, the word auana, contemporary hula.  Auana means to wander. 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Was that is the early 1900ʻs, around there?

MAKANI:     When the first ship started coming up, because remember how the women would stand at the edge of the Pier and hula.

KALANI SIMEONA:   Oh okay.

MAKANI:     The boys would dive into the harbor when they would throw coins.

KALANI SIMEONA:   Thatʻs right. Thatʻs right.

MAKANI:     The hula dancers would auana off...

KALANI SIMEONA:   I kind of mentally drawing that timeline right there.

MAKANI:     That's history, for it's something you didn't know.  So again, that's what we're talking about. We're talking about things that people see and don't really understand. So hula of course, is our Hawaii dance and we've been doing it. So you got your favorites. 2014 was your last competition. Are you going to do anything more? Other competitions, or are you, well over it?

KALANI SIMEONA:   Oh no,  I still don't.  I would say,  I got like, maybe like, five more, six more years. And then...

MAKANI:     Oh Yeah?  Competition too?

KALANI SIMEONA:   Yeah, competition too. |This whole year was kind of set aside for competition and studying . However, because of the current circumstances you know... so now it's just dedicated to studying.

MAKANI:     So, I want to say mahalo, mahalo, mahalo to you. But before you go, because I know we talked about Kapa Kava. You have never tried these yet, yeah?

KALANI SIMEONA:   Yeah, I've never.

MAKANI:     You drink regular ʻawa right? Of course, so Hawaii.  I'll just share something with you guys real quick. So, ʻawa, you may know as well, ʻawa of course Hawaiian. In Hawaii, we never use it for recreational purposes. We use it for ceremony and medicine. South Pacific, they use it for recreational purposes, so that's what we're going to do right now.

Um, pick a flavor.

KALANI SIMEONA:   Oh, there's flavors?

MAKANI:     Watch, you're going to blow your mind.

KALANI SIMEONA:   Oh my gosh. This is totally nice.

MAKANI:     Watermelon, strawberry,  watermelon mango and omaʻomaʻo and you know green. But you know Iʻm just not,  I'm just gonna pour it for you.

KALANI SIMEONA:  Yeah, I was actually looking at that one more. I think it was just the color, because how it just stood out.

MAKANI:     Called your name right? So you tell me what do you think.  So we got to thank our friends from this cup of kava.

KALANI SIMEONA:  Let's see here.

MAKANI:     I got watermelon mango. Hmm, right? You can do that all night not while you're sitting now.

So enjoy that.  I want to say mahalo, mahalo, mahalo for joining us. Um, your studies, continued success in that.

Really quick, you have you have a project that you're working on. A very deep, cultural project with one of your kumu. Really quick tell us about it.

KALANI SIMEONA:  Okay so, it's gonna be every Wednesday. Um, I don't know the cough because you know it's holiday Season, um but every Wednesday at seven o'clock to eight thirty.  Most of the times we go over the webinar it's called Polynesian ancestral knowledge. So we bring so we bring in through the universal Zoom.

MAKANI:     Yes everything is on zoom nowadays.

KALANI SIMEONA:  But um, bringing experts from all over Polynesia to really share like their ʻike and of course, like um, during the show we kind of compare and contrast between the two different cultures.

MAKANI:     So if you want to get a little bit deeper into the culture side of Polynesian ancestral knowledge, go see my good friend Kalani Simeona. Brother, we'll see you soon on the stage.

Thank you for joining us this extended version.

Don't forget to hit the subscribe button right below.

Thank you guys very much for joining Culturised.

If you have a culture, remember to make it always rise

and stay risen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAKANI: Hey, what's up? Howzit. Aloha.  It's me Makani. Welcome to Culturised.  This is where we get a chance to talk story, sit down and share and talk culture with some of my friends some guest speakers. Some everyday Hawaiians

and find out how culture is involved in our lives. Iʻm humbled and privileged to be sitting across from this brother.

He and I are usually on a stage and we're usually entertaining tourists and entertaining people.

But uh, something interesting about him, that's why I wanted to bring him on. Howʻs about a round of applause, my good

friend Andrew Kalani Simeona. How are you brother?

 

KALANI SIMEONA: Oh, pretty good.

 

MAKANI: How's it been? First of all before we get started, of course, because we are cultured people, I'm going to present to you a lei kukui. But, I do have to present it to you in a way that they told me to at the CDC.

 

KALANI SIMEONA: Yes

 

MAKANI: There you go. So that is for you the lei kukui. You can either put it on, but I don't want to mess up the Tahitian pearls on the neck.  Man, look at you. You're all like uh, just what do they call that? Flossing? With your pearls. Did you pick those pearls?

 

KALANI SIMEONA: Oh my gosh. No actually, I got it from um, I think about a vendor like one of the heivas

that competed for. I think 2014-ish, yeah.

 

MAKANI: We're gonna get into all the dance things about us. So, something that's interesting. the reason why I wanted to sit down with you is um, you know, we talk culture all the time. First of all where are you from? What ahupuaʻa?

What moku? 

 

KALANI SIMEONA: So um, I guess just start at the beginning like, as all great moʻolelo start. My older brother and my sisters and mom and dad,  they're from here. However, they moved to Washington before I was born and then had me in Washington state. And then couple months after, the house opened up near my grandparents so like, they moved back to...

 

MAKANI: Oahu?

 

KALANI SIMEONA: Yes.

 

MAKANI: Where on Oahu?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:  Kahaluʻu.

 

MAKANI: Country.

 

KALANI SIMEONA: Yes, very country.

 

MAKANI:  And you're still there now?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:  Well...

 

MAKANI:   Kind of. Youʻre on the Koʻolaupoko side.

 

KALANI SIMEONA: Yes.

 

MAKANI:   Or, Koʻolauloa side that woud be right?

 

KALANI SIMEONA: So, like we moved like, kind of like, central Kaneohe side. Um, kind of a big change because me, I'm a country boy. So like when I keep on hearing like cars pass, or like,  you know like....

 

MAKANI:   You cringe? So coming here today, you were freaking out?

 

KALANI SIMEONA: Yes.

MAKANI:   So, from Kahaluʻu, grew up there.  What was it like growing up in the home? I always ask this question. I

always talk about it because some of us, you know culture wasn't blatantly in our face. Like, our tutu our grandparents or parents didn't pull us on the side and was like, “This is how you need to be as a kanaka. This is how you need to be as

whoever you are.”  Was it like that at home? Or was it more observation of what your parents or your grandparents did?

What was culture like for you?

 

KALANI SIMEONA: So, it was more um observation really. A curiosity because as some families over here, they

like both parents are working.  It's a real big struggle, you know trying to live in paradise.  So both parents were working and  my grandparents that are that were living, they're Filipino.  They're full Filipino. So I never really did have that cultural side.

 

MAKANI:   Well what about the Filipino side? Did that , was there a lot of things on the Filipino side that they taught you or you observed from them that you have in your adult life now?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:  Yes it was like. Um like, they'll be like a little superstitions like Filipino superstitions. Like my grandma used to always be like,  no, don't do that. You'll be taken away.  

 

MAKANI:   Like, your house had the wooden spoon and fork on the wall.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:  Yes basically.

 

MAKANI:   The wooden carabao next to the.... see all those things.  It's funny we don't think about it back

Then, but they're very cultural.  So, you had more of the Filipino side of your culture growing up?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:  In the beginning it was more balanced. Like um, probably when I got into, like eight to seven year

years of age where I started hanging around with friends. And, I also got to know extended family that I was more into heavily into ʻike Hawaii.  So that's where I kind of like shifted.

 

MAKANI:   Did you find things that were similar? Or was it you know, with the Filipino side and the Hawaiian side?

Did you find things similar or was it different for you well?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    I would say more so with a cultural aspect side is having ties with family. Yeah, everybody knew everybody in a sense or knew of like their name. You know that we still kind of contact each other like every now and then to check up.

 

MAKANI:   What high school did you go to?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    So, I went to Castle high school.

 

MAKANI:   Castle high school?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yes.

 

MAKANI:   What are they then the knights?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yes.

 

MAKANI:   Yep, the Castle Knights. Wait, so you from Kahaluʻu.  Would you catch the bus?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yes.

 

MAKANI:   Wow.  So you went to Castle from Kahaluʻu, growing up in the country. Was Castle high school very country? Was there a lot of culture, I should say, at Castle high school? Whether it's ʻike Hawaii, whether it's Filipino or was it a good balance?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    You know, my generation over there, it was slowly shifting.   When I was there , me and my

Friends, we started the the Polynesian club. We're really happy with the Polynesian dance program over there. So, we'll do like may day and hoʻike. So it started to shift and now it's continuing on today.

 

MAKANI:   So it was high school that... so we're going to talk about being a dancer. It was high school that got you into that?

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yes.

 

 

MAKANI:   Speaking of... you're from the windward side,  I got to say mahalo to King Windward Nissan

getting you out of your loan or your lease into a new vehicle.

Got to thank Uniqlo over there at the Ala Moana Shopping Center.  Aligned Mortgage and jam's world for giving us an opportunity to talk culture and share culture.
Now we're talking about dancing. You and I have danced. So, the urge and the drive to dance started in high school?

At Castle you guys started a Polynesian club?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yes.

 

MAKANI:   What was the first dance, Tahitian or hula? That you that you started doing?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh, I mean for me personally, it started with hula first. And then, when I started to like, you know, progress in my high school years... then I started going to Tahitian and all the other cultures.

 

MAKANI:   Was, in your opinion, what's more difficult? I know people are going to be, “Like what?”

Hula or Tahitian?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    I would have to say hula, because it's so precise.

 

MAKANI:   Yeah. Who did you learn uh, specifically from anybody hula when you first started dancing?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Um, so, my high school kumu was Lehua Beltrame-Tevaga.

 

MAKANI:   Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    She used to be um, she used to dance at Tihati's, and even her husband.  She you know like.... hula and for dancing, it's a family affair. You bring the ohana in at some point in time.

 

MAKANI:   So you started dancing. Did that kind of inspire, kind of what you're doing now? Because now you decided to study, Hawaiian, ʻike Hawaii. Was that was that kind of the path from dancing? What was it that made you think man, “I

want to make this. I want to study ʻike Hawaii in a university setting?  What was it that pursued or made you think that

you wanted to do that? 

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    So you know, I gotta say, if I asked like, the six-year-old me back then... I would say I want to be an artist and go to school for art. But you know, as the years went on you know, growing up, what I really wanted

With ʻike Hawaii is really study like literature. Study media storytelling and how can we incorporate that into today instead of only viewing it as something ancient or something kahiko. Like placing it in that time frame.

 

MAKANI:   So you're currently going to University of Hawai'i, but you're on a break right now. You've been in a bunch of programs though and you've actually been active on campus as far as the Hawaiian culture goes. Did you go did you go to Hilo too?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    No. I was about to,  but it was just like, one, I didn't have family over there. Two, because like the funds and all that so...

 

MAKANI:   What are you studying, uh I was going to say “pacifically”.  I just had this conversation,

Specifically, at University of Hawaii? 

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    So, Iʻm majoring in ʻike Hawaii and my concentration is moʻolelo oiwi. Which has to do

with more of the literature, media, storytelling side. 

 

MAKANI:   Are you coming from a point where you want to collect stories? Or you want to be the storyteller or

create stories?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Well, right now, like I really want to study how can we progress in our storytelling. So more like story telling.

 

MAKANI:   Is there as you're studying now from a cultural standpoint? An ʻike Hawaii standpoint?  Are there people today that are creating new stories? I mean we hear, like you said, we hear all these stories, these moʻolelo, about ka wā kahiko. About the old days. Is there anybody writing stories, so a hundred years from now we'll hear a story from today? Is anybody doing that right now?  I mean that was intense as back then, right?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yeah, because, I mean if you look at the nupepa, the newspapers, they published all these moʻolelo in a newspaper because of something that was occurring and in kind of current modern times. So for me, I'm not too sure if people are creating, you know, new moʻolelo with akua and all that. But you know, right now, it's like you have stuff going on such as the pandemic or the um, you know...

 

MAKANI:  So, you know, 100 years from now, we will be reading stories in the newspaper about a Hawaiian perspective of the pandemic. Have you written any stories yourself, or do would you have a desire to author stories or haku stories?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Well actually, I started reading um a new book that came out, Nānā i ke kumu.

 

MAKANI:  Version three?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yes! Version three. Thatʻs just like, ʻike bombs like left and right going on.

 

MAKANI:  Let's put ourselves in the position of okay, so you and I are at a luʻau. We're on stage right, um you know we get deep into culture and we talk about cultural things. Sometimes it reminds me that we need to take a step back

and go to the simplicity of who we are as Hawaii and cultural. Uh, not a lot of people know the simple things.

Like the word Hawaii, right? Everybody hears it everybody thinks it's just the place. But when you break it down, how would you explain to somebody not from Hawaii, what Hawaii is as a word. Like Ha, wai and i... and what would your manaʻo on that be?

Your thoughts.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh, on Hawaii? Oh, I mean so, Hawaii to me, is just the birthing sands of our ancestors. That's basically like how I view Hawaii.  Because again, to a Hawaiian, you have generations upon generations of your ancestors being born on this land and even some people have have ohana that's still living on those grounds today.

 

MAKANI:  Yeah, the sands of our birth. I always remember this one,  that kupuna have always told me.  So

whenever you say the word Hawaii, you're automatically giving somebody three blessings.

HA - because it's our breath of life. WAI - and we know that wai, without water, we are nothing that is the life-giving water. and I - is actually for Iʻo or the akua on high for Iʻo. So Hawaii is three blessings you give every time you say that word. You're blessing somebody three times with breath with water and akua.

Aloha, we hear that word all the time. We throw it around at luaus every time we entertain. We're like oh, aloha and

people always like, hey, aloha. In your manaʻo, in your opinion what is is aloha to you?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh man. Aloha to me, it just encompasses like..... for me it's like the granddaddy of all values of ʻike Hawaii. Because not only aloha is you know, to express love to someone. But also you know, it is a way of life. Like

something to uphold.  Something to like.... the words that I would associate aloha to say kuleana or you know, being pono. You know being on that righteous path.

 

MAKANI:  So kuleana of course, our responsibility and pono of just doing things right. When people come to Hawaii, you know they usually see us, which is always, often times funny because they just think beach and luʻau. And they just see us shaking our thing. But I always try and make it a point to not only entertain our visitors, but educate them.

What's one of the things you like to do when we're entertaining visitors or even if they're local people? What is do you have one thing that you'd like to make sure that you share with them?  I mean besides entertaining them?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    I mean because part of um, again we'll kind of like segueway into my experiences with UH. But

I'd always like to I guess, open a door for them, of like curiosity. Like, “Oh, I want to see where are they dancing about.”

Because you know there's a monologue before each dance.

 

MAKANI:  Exactly. So sometimes they see us and they have really no idea what we're dancing. If that's Tahitian, if that's hula, if that's Samoan. I like that. So one of your goals is to make sure they understand what you're dancing. Because

people come up to us, right,  “What was that all about?” So another big thing that we have culturally for ʻike Hawaii

is value.  You already talked about kuleana, which is responsibility. Pono, which is just basically doing things right. What  other values to you are important that not a lot of people realize? Just generally.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Well,  just generally? Like one word answers?

 

MAKANI:  Or just Hawaiian culture you know. Like um, we talked kuleana. We talked pono.  We talked aloha. We talked ho'okipa. You know, hospitality being nice to people. Are there values that you could share with people? Hawaiian values that you would want to share with people just so they  see us in a whole different way? Rather than a couple guys in malos on the stage?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    I guess one of the values that I want people to understand is like moʻokūauhau. Which is like

a genealogy. Whether it be literally as opposed to l family genealogy. Or it can be knowledge based. Like who did your kumu learn from and  how did this practice come to be.

 

MAKANI:  So, moʻokūauhau, meaning genealogy. And a lot of times people think that genealogy is just direct family. But it's what's your dance genealogy? What is your art genealogy? Who did you learn from? Who did they learn from?

So these are all these Hawaiian values that I love about. And so, that's a great thing about you studying ʻike Hawaii because sometimes we tend to only talk to the native Hawaiian demographic. But I always like to talk to that one's outside of that.

 

Thank you very much for hanging out with me. Mahalo nui Kalani for being here and taking the time out because I do got to say I called you last minute. I called you last minute. He ubered here from Kaneʻohe. So mahalo, mahalo, for that.

I'm going to put us on the spot right now because you know, you and I, when we get into

conversations about ʻike Hawaii or about Hawaii or na mea Hawaii, about Hawaiian things, we go deep. Sometimes I have moments, like I brain fart and I'm just like, “I didn't even know these things, like the simplest things about Hawaii.”  If

a visitor, a tourist came up to me in a show and was like ,uh they asked me a simple quote like, “oh, I don't even know.” So we're gonna put ourselves on the spot and kumus, sorry if we don't get this right. Uh island colors and flowers are you

good on those? Because that's like a simple question right?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yeah. Because I can do colors.

 

MAKANI:  Let's start with moku o keawe – Hawaii island. Big Island

 

[Laughter]

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Red.

 

MAKANI:  Off the bat. Red. Whatʻs their flower?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    .......

 

MAKANI:  Um, lehua.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh, my gosh....

 

MAKANI:  Lehua, right. Am I right? Yes! Got it! See?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    I'm gonna punch myself in the face.... oh my gosh.

 

MAKANI:  The Lehua, it has itʻs own pandemic right not, right? Rapid Ohiʻa death.

Anyway, okay so, Hawaii island we covered. what's that um uh.... Maui o piʻilani, Maui.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Thatʻs ppink, yeah.

 

MAKANI:  Pink. Uh flower? That's uh, poʻe haʻole flower.... um

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Some type of rose right?  I know ...

 

MAKANI:  It is the rose. The loke.

 

AUDIENCE: Lokelani

 

MAKANI:  Look at that!! From the gallery. Uh Molokai or Molokaʻi depending on who. Okay so this is on a tangent right now depending on who you talk to. Do you say Molokai or Molokaʻi?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    For me, personally, I say Molokaʻi. However, I had worked with colleagues before that said Molokai

that we're from Molokai.

 

MAKANI:  So there is always a good reference you always have to know who you're talking to when you say certain words. If I'm on Molokai, I'll say Molokai. If I'm off Molokai not talking to a Molokai person, I'll say Molokaʻi.

so a huge difference in....

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Especially when I'm writing on paper I'm like, “Okay, do I add the okina? Do I not? Am I misspelling it?”

 

MAKANI:   This is what I say, so, the okina is, that is that glottal stop in words. This is what I say, “If my tutu never used it, I'm not going to.” That's my disclaimer. Color of Molokai?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Gray. No?

 

MAKANI:   No!

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    No? Oh shoot!

 

MAKANI:   Green.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Green. Oh I'm thinking of...um...

 

MAKANI:   Weʻll get back to that. Flower?  Well, it's not really a flower, I wouldn't say it's a flower. The color is green but it's more of a tree. Well, I guess it could be a flower. Molokai. You know, used as laʻau lapaʻau, used as medicine. Used to

make oil, uh used to dye bark.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh, um, kukui.

 

MAKANI:   Uh, what's next to that? My island, Lanaʻi. Um, color?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh see, yeah this is where like I totally blank out.  I'm sorry.

 

MAKANI:   Orange.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    I knew there was an orange in there, but I didn't know which island.

 

MAKANI:   The flower is the same color. Well, itʻs not a flower. It's a vine. You can see it when you go to UH. You

take that UH ramp. It's all growing in there.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yes,  I see it... um...

 

MAKANI:   Used for medicine when you have a high fever.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh, my gosh.

 

MAKANI:   Starts with a k like every other....kaunaʻoa. Let's move on. Okay, we're getting closer to your moku O'ahu.

Color?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Ok, yeah, thatʻs yellow.

 

MAKANI:   Flower? I don't even know Oʻahu's flower...

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    No, yeah, me neither.

 

AUDIENCE: ʻIlima.

 

MAKANI:   Oh! Look at that. ʻIlima. Thatʻs right, it is. Uh, Kauaʻi.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Okay,  Kauai's purple.

 

MAKANI:   Kauai's purple. Flower? Ah, I donʻt even know Kauaiʻs either... Mokihana. Yes! Yes, they give you a rash at your neck, so if you ever if you ever luse mokihana, it burns.  Okay uh, Niʻihau, last one.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh my gosh....

 

MAKANI:   No, I think I'm missing one, but we'll come back to it.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh yeah, I'm stuck on that missing one, because I was like...

 

MAKANI:   Wait, let's go back. You said gray earlier. Gray belongs to Kahoʻolawe.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yeah.

 

MAKANI:   Their flower like a vine as well.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh that one is um...

 

MAKANI:   Same color as the Hawaiian color.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    I know it but it's like um....

 

MAKANI:   You got 30 seconds

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    30 seconds , what? Ho, um...

 

MAKANI:   Hinahina

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    I was going to say Pele's hair

 

MAKANI:   Same thing. Okay last one, real quick. Niʻihau. Do we know ?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Niʻihau,  that one is white .

 

MAKANI:   White and pūpū. Shell.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Right, oh yeah.

 

MAKANI:   Itʻs the only island without a flower. Niʻihau shells. There you go. Man, that was rough for us. You see what happens when we get too deep in culture, sometimes we forget the simple things.

 

Hey, What's up? Howzit.  It is me Makani. Welcome to Culturised our extended version. You get a little bit of extra of us talking story about culture, sharing culture, learning culture. Uh, we barely made it through the color and flower of each island. That's like that's cultural suicide let me tell you.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh no

 

MAKANI:   We were talking about hula and of course we do Tahitian. We do everything else.

Do you remember your first hula?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Oh my first hula would have to be Kawika.

 

MAKANI:   You're better than me.  Um well, okay, no let me finish, do you remember the choreography

to your first hula?  That's more...

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Okay never mind.  I retract.

 

MAKANI:    I remember my first one,  I just don't remember the choreography.  I'm the worst at that when it comes to hula. This is what I want to talk about. Again,  let's take it back to you and I on stage, and we talked about it earlier.

And when visitors come they see us, 9 out of 10 times they have no idea what we're doing right. So some people don't understand when they see us in, like uh, how would you? Let's focus on the women. When you see the women in coconut bras and grass or moré skirts, that would be Tahitian right?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Yes.

 

MAKANI:    Okay, um and then grass skirts.  Hawaii never had grass skirts, right? It was  laʻe or ti leaf and we'd

shred it and of course it would look like grass. So when when Hollywood came over, the visitors go, “Oh, look it's a grass

skirt.”  Grass skirts didn't come out till, I don't know,  Hollywood was introduced. 

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Yeah.

 

MAKANI:    What do you prefer kahiko or auana?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Oh, it have to be kahiko. Yeah.

 

MAKANI:    Yeah?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Yeah.

 

MAKANI:    Kahiko for me as well.  Even if you take it back to Merrie Monarch.  I love watching kahiko night.

Auana,  I hate to say it, but there's only so much crushed velvet and ilima right? Somebody do a fast song. Um, favorite kahiko that you've ever done? Favorite ancient hula?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh man. that one would have to be...my favorite kahiko would be O Pupuhi Kalani.

 

MAKANI:    Whoa. Uh, I'm gonna brain fart. Totally don't remember what it's about, do you?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   That one was uh, it was a Kamehameha one.

 

MAKANI:    Wow.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Yeah,

 

MAKANI:    Drum dance?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    No. Um, just ipu heke. That one I performed back in 2014 when I went to the hula competition in Cali, Iā ʻOe E Ka Lā.

 

MAKANI:    Oh yeah, that's right.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yeah. I did that for my solo performance. 

 

MAKANI:    Preparing for hula, a lot of people don't realize,  how many months did you prepare for that solo competition

in California?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Oh, I would say like, six months or seven months, around there.

 

MAKANI:    And so, you did that you did that one mele, which is that one song. You practiced for that long, how long

were you on stage?  A lot of people don't realize this too right,  you practice what'd you say for 10 months?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:    Yeah, around, yeah.

 

MAKANI:    And how long was that song?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   I would say about five minutes. Like five, six minutes max.  That whole performance.

 

MAKANI:    Isn't it crazy? So that part of hula a lot of people don't realize even if as show dancers people

think we just automatically know this stuff. But, it's the practice and this practice that goes into it.

What do you prefer hula, Tahitian or South Pacific dances? We talked about it earlier, but from let's say, from an entertainment standpoint. When we're on stage, what do you prefer?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Hula. Hula more.

 

MAKANI:    Hula, from Hawaii, of course. On a personal level, what do you prefer? Tahitian, Hawaiian, Samoan?

KALANI SIMEONA:   Oh man, it's just like one kind of close cut race but, it would have to be hula.

 

MAKANI:    Wow. Hula really is your thing.  I like that. Um are you still practicing now? Hula dancing now?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Not right now because I just set everything aside for just studying.

 

MAKANI:    So that was your last competition,  what 2010?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   For hula? It was, yeah 2014.

 

MAKANI:    2014 sorry. In fact, I remember that because, we were doing a show and you

just had come back and I remember you just won.  You came back and we're doing a show and I was like, “Man, this is an entertainer.” Um...auana, favorite number?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Oh hands down, it would be from Na Palapalai, Pili Ka Pekepeke.

 

MAKANI:    Wow! That's a good one. Tell us what that song is about.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Oh that one, it has to do with the many techniques of how to catch someone's attention

and like...

 

MAKANI:     A lot of people don't realize how, I hate to use this word but  sometimes, how perverse

we are in hula. That was basically a song about how to get somebody's attention. Um, here's another interesting thing

you may know it, you may not know it.  Auana, uh so, auana is a contemporary name for hula right? Which is when the

introduction of ukulele, introduction of western instruments.  But the word auana, did you ever hear the story about

the word auana? 

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Actually...no, I havenʻt.

 

MAKANI:     So when military ships used to come over to Hawaii, and the freighters used to come over to the harbor,

they'd always have the hula girls at the pier welcoming them. And so, what would happen when the sailors came off, or the visitors came off, the girls would auana off with them.  They would wander off with them. So as you see a hula girl

wandering or auana-ing off with somebody. So that became hula auana.  It's interesting, I always like to joke about the kauna or the deeper meaning and I always would tell girls, I said, “Don't be a hula auana.”

“But I love hula auana.”   “Just don't be like it.”  So that was, the word auana, contemporary hula.  Auana means to wander. 

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Was that is the early 1900ʻs, around there?

 

MAKANI:     When the first ship started coming up, because remember how the women would stand at the edge of the

Pier and hula.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Oh okay.

 

MAKANI:     The boys would dive into the harbor when they would throw coins.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Thatʻs right. Thatʻs right.

 

MAKANI:     The hula dancers would auana off...

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   I kind of mentally drawing that timeline right there.

 

MAKANI:     That's history, for it's something you didn't know.  So again, that's what we're talking about. We're

talking about things that people see and don't really understand. So hula of course, is our Hawaii dance and we've been doing it. So you got your favorites. 2014 was your last competition. Are you going to do anything more? Other competitions, or are you, well over it?

 

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Oh no,  I still don't.  I would say,  I got like, maybe like, five more, six more years. And then...

 

 

MAKANI:     Oh Yeah?  Competition too?

KALANI SIMEONA:   Yeah, competition too. |This whole year was kind of set aside for competition and studying . However, because of the current circumstances you know... so now it's just dedicated to studying.

 

 

MAKANI:     So, I want to say mahalo, mahalo, mahalo to you. But before you go, because I know we talked about Kapa

Kava. You have never tried these yet, yeah?

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Yeah, I've never.

 

MAKANI:     You drink regular ʻawa right? Of course, so Hawaii.  I'll just share something with you guys real quick. So, ʻawa, you may know as well, ʻawa of course Hawaiian. In Hawaii, we never use it for recreational purposes. We use it for

ceremony and medicine. South Pacific, they use it for recreational purposes, so that's what we're going to do right now.

Um, pick a flavor.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Oh, there's flavors?

 

MAKANI:     Watch, you're going to blow your mind.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:   Oh my gosh. This is totally nice.

 

MAKANI:     Watermelon, strawberry,  watermelon mango and omaʻomaʻo and you know green. But

you know Iʻm just not,  I'm just gonna pour it for you.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:  Yeah, I was actually looking at that one more. I think it was just the color,

because how it just stood out.

 

MAKANI:     Called your name right? So you tell me what do you think.  So we got to thank our friends from this cup of kava.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:  Let's see here.

 

 

MAKANI:     I got watermelon mango. Hmm, right? You can do that all night not while you're sitting now.

So enjoy that.  I want to say mahalo, mahalo, mahalo for joining us. Um, your studies, continued success in that.

Really quick, you have you have a project that you're working on. A very deep, cultural project with one of your kumu.

Really quick tell us about it.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:  Okay so, it's gonna be every Wednesday. Um, I don't know the cough because you know it's holiday

Season, um but every Wednesday at seven o'clock to eight thirty.  Most of the times we go over the webinar it's called Polynesian ancestral knowledge. So we bring so we bring in through the universal Zoom.

 

MAKANI:     Yes everything is on zoom nowadays.

 

KALANI SIMEONA:  But um, bringing experts from all over Polynesia to really share like their ʻike and

of course, like um, during the show we kind of compare and contrast between the two different cultures.

 

MAKANI:     So if you want to get a little bit deeper into the culture side of Polynesian ancestral knowledge,

go see my good friend Kalani Simeona. Brother, we'll see you soon on the stage.

Thank you for joining us this extended version.

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