with Kumu Kehaulani Kekua
Welina a ke aloha! I’ve been such a dedicated fan of KKCR for years! As the only radio station on Kauaʻi that offers live Hawaiian music programming daily, it is a huge gift offering to kamaʻāina and malihini alike here and around the world! Over the years, I sometimes wondered what it’d be like if I had a show of my own. But it was never a really serious thought. …Well, until just a couple of months ago! Honestly, it still seems a bit surreal. But everyone has been tremendously supportive, and I am so deeply grateful, humbled and honored to be a part of the KKCR ʻOhana!
I am a keiki o ka ʻaina, a native Hawaiian child born and raised in Anahola, Kauaʻi. As the hiapo or firstborn, I was reared in the tradition of hānai – freely given to be raised and groomed in hula by my maternal grandmother. I was brought up in a very Hawaiian household with both my grandparents, my parents and my siblings. But it was my kūpuna, mostly my grandmother, who took the lead in raising and nurturing me.
My late grandmother, Helen Kaipuwai Kekua Waiau was a hula master, descended from generations of kumu hula here on Kauaʻi. She established her hula school In 1945, and taught hula throughout her lifetime. Upon her passing, I inherited the role and responsibilities of kumu hula. Today, I have the privilege of serving as the kumu hula of Hālau Palaihiwa O Kaipuwai. I share this, because it was my upbringing in hula that has shaped my life. And through the kuleana and practices of the hālau, hula nurtures and strengthens my love for my birthsands and the culture of Hawaiʻi nei.
More than two decades ago, while researching and writing curriculum for a Hawaiian hospitality and cultural training project, I came across an ʻŌlelo Noʻeau, an ancient Hawaiian proverb and poetical saying: ʻELIʻELI KŪLANA ʻO ʻĀINAʻIKE. Translated, it means, “Profound is the nature of ʻĀinaʻike”. This saying refers to a person respected for the depth of his/her knowledge. There’s a play on the words ʻELIʻELI which means “deep or profound” and ʻĀinaʻike which literally means, “Land of Knowledge”. I was blown away by that discovery. I’m still inspired by the depth of awareness that Hawaiian ancestral knowledge offers all of us!
For many years, I searched high and low for this traditional wahi pana or celebrated place. It no longer appeared on modern-day maps, where treasured Hawaiian place names had succumbed to frivolous monikers or nick-names. And those of my generation and perhaps my own parents’ generation had too quickly, forgotten about ʻĀinaʻike. I was determined that I’d find it one day.
Well, interestingly enough, I happened across this precious place name in an extensive wind chant for Kauaʻi! It is still a thrill for me today, having discovered that ʻĀinaʻike is an actual place here on Kauaʻi! It’s become a favorite mantra for me too. A gentle reminder to never stop learning something new of my island home.
It is my hope that I can share gems of ancestral wisdom and the beautiful culture of Hawaiʻi nei through the stories, music, history and more on my show! The repository of Hawaiian chants, dances, music and stories are endless! And the haku mele or music makers, composers and poets of yesteryear, today and the future is a phenomenal gift that blesses all of us everyday!
Everything I do is inspired by hula. I am an artist and lover of nature and the forest! I love to create beautiful expressions that bring healing and joy to my heart and to others near and far!. Whether it is hand painting an exquisite silk scarf (my professional life as a designer and artist), choreographing a hula, memorizing an epic chant, or making lei and offerings, life is sweet and precious. And I now have the opportunity to interact and engage with a global audience through the magic of KKCR air waves.
Please visit and like my Facebook pages for Studio HAʻA and ʻĀinaʻike on the Air too!
Me ke aloha pauʻole. My love and aloha to all of you is endless. I hope you will tune in!
ʻO wau iho no me ka haʻahaʻa,