Justin Paredes of Hālau Kekuaokala’au’ala’iliahi, 2018 Master Keiki Hula

Photo by Maui Now

Kalihi Palama Culture & Arts Society

On September 11, 1976, the Kalihi-Palama Culture & Arts Society, Inc. organized an event to recognize Hawai’i’s last reigning majesty, Queen Lili’uokalani. The day-long event was held at A’ala Park and featured multi-ethnic dance performances. Also Hawaiian crafts presentations, a pageant of Hawai’i’s mo’i wahine, as well as the first keiki hula competitors.

Kalihi Palama Culture & Arts program organizer Wendell Silva, along with committee chairman George Naope, envisioned a competition where youngsters might share their accomplishments in hula while learning about Queen Lili’uokalani, her ‘ohana and also Hawai’i’s historical past. The Queen Lili’uokalani Keiki Hula Competition was created for youngsters 6 to 12 years of age in “hula ‘auana” only. On the 11th day in September 1976, six halaus entered the very first Queen Lili’uokalani Keiki Hula Competition.

The New Home For The Competition

After 2 years, the competition moved to the Farrington High School auditorium to provide the young dancers with a much better place to showcase their skills. Over the next few years, the competitors included the soloists and hula kahiko groups, a separate division for the keiki kane, as well as the Hawaiian language critique.

Today, The Queen Lili’uokalani Keiki Hula Competition is held every year at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center Sector in July.

In the hula world, Hilo Hawai’i has the Merrie Monarch Festival and Honolulu Oahu has the Keiki Hula Competition. For the past 43 years, The Queen Lili’uokalani Keiki Hula Competition has actually cultivated the future generation of hula professional dancers, some as young as 5 years of ages.

This year The Queen Lili’uokalani Keiki Hula Competition was held on July 19-21.

The Paredes ohana

The Paredes ohana

Halau From Maui

Na Kumu Haunani & ‘Iliahi Paredes of Hālau Kekuaokala’au’ala’iliahi from Wailuku, Maui entered their son Justin in the Master Keiki hula competition. “We train our keiki for this competition for around 7 months and the greatest thing we want them to take away is that they can do it,” states Kumu Iliahi Paredes.
This year Justing won Master Keiki Hula, a culmination of hard work and dedication.

Mom and dad ( Haunani & Iliahi Paredes) sharing a hula together. Video by Carmela Ho

Justin Paredes is the creation of pure Hula DNA from both his mom and dad. From his father, ‘Iliahi, for sure, a former Master Keiki Hula winner himself, but additionally from his mother, Haunani, that charmed as a premier dancer with Keali’i Reichel.

Justin’s effort and love for Hula as well as his heritage were put on a full display screen in a well-deserved acknowledgment of his talent. Congratulations to Justine and to his parents/kumu for an inspirational performance!

Here’s Justin’s winning Performance

Video by ‘Iolana K

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