Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele

Main Stage
Saturday May 5, 11:00 am
Performing chants with her daughter, Kekuhi Kanahele and grandson, Kaumaka’iwa Kanaka’ole

OHA Alana Pavilion
Saturday May 5, 1:00 pm
Presenting her book, Ka Honua Ola: ‘Eli‘eli Kau Mai/The Living Earth: Descend, Deepen the Revelation

Genre: Hawaii; mele
Kamehameha Schools Press;  ; November 2011
Hardcover; $24.00; 179 pages

Ka Honua Ola: Ka Honua Ola is a collection of twenty-five chants from the epic tale of Pele and Hi‘iaka. These mele reveal the richness of Hawaiian genealogy, migration, poetry, and hula. Through skillful interpretations and ancestral memory, Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele summons ancient wisdom and renews our profound connection to the living earth.

Holo Mai Pele; Pacific Islanders In Communications;  September 21, 2004
Home Version: $24.95
Libraries and Community Groups, $99.00
Schools and Other Institutions, $250.00

Holo Mai Pele: Holo Mai Pele (Pele Travels) tells the epic saga of the rivalry between Pelehonuamea, goddess of the volcano, and her youngest and favorite sister Hi‘iaka. The one-hour performance weaves together archetypal themes of creation, love, and betrayal into a sweeping dramatic performance. For the first time, a rare legacy of chants and dances as passed down through generations is presented by the Kumu Hula and performers of Halau o Kekuhi, in a stunning and exciting adaptation for Dance in America.

Hālau o Kekuhi: Hālau o Kekuhi is the hālau hula (classical dance company) and the center of cultural knowledge for EKF. The cultural beliefs and practices in which EKF is anchored and radiates from the traditional practices of the hālau that can account for eight generations of kumu hula.

Hālau o Kekuhi is celebrated for its mastery of the ‘aiha‘a style of hula (dance) and oli (chant). The ‘aiha‘a is a low-postured, vigorous, bombastic style of hula that springs from the eruptive volcano persona Pele and Hi‘iaka, characteristic of Hawai‘i Island’s creative forces. Hālau o Kekuhi has earned local, state, national, and international recognition for their art.

Merrie Monarch 2011 The leadership of the dance company is currently transmitted through matrilineal succession and with the passing of Edith Kanaka‘ole, her daughters Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele and Nālani Kanaka‘ole assumed the role of kumu hula. In 2007, Pualani relinquished her position to her daughters, Kekuhi Keali‘ikanaka‘oleohaililani and Huihui Kanahele-Mossman, who, along with Nālani, are now the kumu hula of the hālau.

Also in 2007, the hālau celebrated an ‘aha ‘ailolo, graduating several of its dancers and initiating them into the tenure of kumu hula: Kauamakani Elia, Kīwala‘ō Taylor, Kau‘i Enoka, Kika Nohara, Heanu Weller, Kalanipua Manuel, Kau‘ilani Alameda, Mamo Brown, ‘Ō‘ilipua Kaikaina, Taupōuri Tangarō, Sig Zane, Keonaona Trask, Keala Swain, and Kau‘i Kanaka‘ole. Hālau o Kekuhi is the primary fundraising entity for EKF’s higher education scholarship program.


“As a Native Hawaiian, I am especially proud that my fellow regents unanimously voted to confer this honorary degree upon Pua Kanahele. She truly embodies the spirit, intellect and courage that exemplify a recipient of the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.”

– Regent Jim Haynes

“It is appropriate that we recognize someone of this stature in our community with the highest honor the university can confer. We will look forward to welcoming Pua Kanahele to Mānoa in December, and will seek future opportunities for her to share her wealth of knowledge with our community of scholars.”

– UH Manoa Chancellor Denise Eby Konan

“We are honoring a person who I and many consider a national treasure. The awarding of this degree to Pua Kanahele is recognition of the enormous contribution of our host culture and a giant step for Native Hawaiians and all indigenous people.”

– Hawaiʻi Community College Chancellor Rockne Freitas.

She inspires students and colleagues alike, using Hawaiian-rooted educational philosophy and experiential methodology to motivate students to become life-long learners and give back to the community and environment. Her teaching style is described as inclusive and supportive of each student while maintaining high expectations for all and cultivating students’ potential to challenge themselves.

University of Hawai‘i

Like her ancestors, Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele epitomizes cultural brilliance, beauty and power. A renowned scholar and author who is steeped in the hula tradition, she currently leads a team of researchers in reestablishing an ancient Hawaiian system of cultural intelligence. Her vast reservoir of knowledge ranges from ethno astronomy to volcanism.

Pua is of pure Hawaiian descent and is responsible to her ancestral lineage. She was raised in a Hula tradition that spans many generations. Pua is also responsible to this matrilineal tradition. She knows the forest, mountains, volcanism and the ocean of her homeland from her Native Hawaiian perspective. These too are her responsibility.

TEDx Maui

“The voices of our ancestors reverberate through the brilliant insights of our foremost keeper of Hawaiian cultural knowledge. A timely reminder to respect and preserve the natural energy of the honua, or earth, which our ancestors and we honor as the Pele family of living deities.”

– Davianna Pömaika‘i McGregor on Ka Honua Ola

“An invitation to understand the intimate relationship between Native Hawaiians and the volcanic landscape of these islands. Aunty Pua is a gifted storyteller.”

– Jim Kauahikaua on Ka Honua Ola


Every culture has its defining myth: Hindus have the Mahabharata, the Greeks the Homeric Odyssey. For native Hawaiians, perhaps no myth is more central than the story of the Fire Goddess Pele and her enduring rivalry with her sister Hi‘iaka. Six years ago, the renowned dance company Halau O Kekuhi began the ambitious undertaking of assembling and recreating the legend for modern audiences, translating it to the contemporary stage by combining the traditions of Hawaiian chant and hula with innovative elements of Western theater. The work, Holo Mai Pele (Pele Travels), premiered on Maui in 1995. A dynamic blend of traditional Hawaiian chant and dance, this remarkable performance now comes to public television for the first time under the auspices of the Pacific Islanders in Communications in an exciting adaptation for DANCE IN AMERICA.

PBS on Holo Mai Pele

 A loea, or expert, on Hawaiian cultural practices and a national living treasurer, Pualani Kanakaole Kanahele is an accomplished writer; educator; music, stage and film producer; dedicated commnity leader and renowned kumu hula, or master hula teacher. In 2005 she was given an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, making her the only Hawaiian cultural practitioner to receive this honor.

Born in Keaukaha on the Big Island, she was reared in the traditions of her ancestors and has been highly influential in the resurgence of Hawaiian practices and interest in all things Hawaiian.

Daughters of the late hula and chant master Edith Kanaka‘ole, she and her sister Nalani lead the world-renowned classical Hawaiian cultural dance and dance group Halau o Kekuhi. In 1995, she co-wrote and directed the first opera-length stage hula drama, Holo Mai Pele, based on the Hawaiian literary saga of Pele and Hi‘iaka. She co-directed the film version for the Public Broadcasting Service’s Great Performance series. The production won a 2001 CINE Award-Golden Eagle for excellence in film production. Among her many audio books and articles is Puka Kama‘ehu, a compact disk recording nominated in the Hawaiian Music Category for the 2005 Grammy Awards.

She was a primary organizer of the 1999 World Indigenous People’s Conference in Hilo. She is the president of the Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation and the founder of numerous organizations dedicated to native Hawaiian issues. She is involved in community projects, such as Pahana Ho‘olupalupa, that encourages concern for the environment and an understanding of traditional culture among young people. She has received numerous honors, including the National Governors Association Award for Distinguished Service, the Governor’s Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship Award.

A much sought-after speaker, panelist and expert cultural consultant, she was invited by the Dalai Lama to speak on the subject of world peace in 1994 and was the Hawai‘i representative for the UNESCO advisory committee on native cultures and intellectual property rights in 1999.

The intro to the great hula drama presented by Halau o Kekuhi that tells the great story of Pele and Hi‘iaka.

TEDxHONOLULU – Dr. Pualani Kanaka’ole Kanahele – Haena: Intense Breath of the Sun

Pualani Kanaka’ole Kanahele on Face of America: Hawai’i

Kanahele’s works:

Kanahele, Pualani Kanaka’ole and Kalani Wise. Ka Honua Ola (The Living Earth): A collection of Pele Chants & Annotated Bibliography. Funded by a grant to the Center for Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa from the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. [1989].

Hula Records HS-560. Haakui Pele i Hawaii. Performed by Edith Kanakaole, Pualani Kanakaole Kanahele, and Nalani Kanakaole.



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