Kamehameha Schools delivers world-class, Hawaiian culture-based education. Project-based learning opportunities like the Merrie Monarch video offer students an opportunity to connect to and showcase their culture through the stories of their kūpuna told through a contemporary lens. Telling these stories also helps to cultivate a strong Native Hawaiian identity that instills confidence and resiliency in our learners.
KS Hawaiʻi has an established tradition producing a video for the Merrie Monarch festival that shares a moʻolelo through hula, mele and oli. The project is a large undertaking, bringing together a large group of haumāna and kumu to support the production. Writing and choreography, costuming and actual production of the video requires a large commitment and lots of hard work. But the results have been impressive, consistently pushing the bar higher each year. Last year’s video, “ʻO Poliʻahu me Kūkahauʻula” was even screened later at the 2016 Hawaiʻi International Film Festival and 2016 ʻŌiwi Film Festival.
This year’s production is titled “No Māui me Kaʻalaehuapī” and speaks of the ʻalae huapī and Māui. The ʻalae huapī translates to the “stingy ʻalae.” The ʻalae carried something that Māui yearned for, which was the secret of fire. He saw a bird creating fire but as Māui approached, the bird killed the fire. Maui then realizes that the bird will not give up the secret of the fire without a fight.
He threatened the bird to reveal the secret and after ʻalae continues to provide false information, he threatens to kill her. Māui is lead to use trickery and force to obtain the secret of the fire—that you need to use the dry hau to get the fire to work—but he won’t let them leave without forgetting what they have done. Upon the fire lighting, Māui burned the ʻalae’s head which is why there are red and white feathers that grow upon its head till today.
“It was, and always is, a great opportunity to be involved in the production of the Merrie Monarch video,” shares senior Nerissa Moevao, who served as producer for this year’s video.
“I am always amazed to see the outcome of talent brought forth by the students. Although it can be difficult for everyone to see the same vision, the collision of ideas never fails to disappoint anyone in the overall production.”
For senior Daylan Kalaʻi, who choreographed the men’s hula and served as one of the dancers, the decision to create the piece reflected the larger push to continue to evolve.
"We wanted to capture a Hawaiian culture moʻolelo in a modern fashion through what might be the most contemporary form of film,” says Kalaʻi. “ We wanted to be able to show that just as everything evolves, so do we.”
The evolution was not without challenge. This was the first time the 360-degree approach was being used and with any first, lessons were learned. Weather challenges, which can hamper less complicated productions, posed even more challenges with a new format. But with good communication and a shared vision, the crew and cast were able to overcome those challenges and knew the end result would be worth it.
“Knowing that it would bring forth some challenges we proceeded anyway because it would be a huge movement from the regular 2D format and it would allow viewers to be interactive with the environment and story,” said Moevao.
“There were quite a few challenges and lessons learned, I think the most important one would be that you have to be flexible, the environment might not be how you imagined it, the weather might not be in your favor and things just might not go as planned.”
But when the final project is done, Kalaʻi perfectly sums up why KS Hawaiʻi continues to do it.
“At times, yes it can feel chaotic but to realize that you are bringing light to your culture and a moʻolelo within your culture that will be portrayed during the most prestigious hula festival in the world gives you a sort of sense of pride.”
Watch “No Māui me Kaʻalaehuapī” online now on www.merriemonarch.com or via the Lehua TV YouTube channel upload below. If viewing the video via mobile phone, the video will shift as you shift, creating a fun an immersive viewing experience.
Keep a look out for KS Hawaiʻi students throughout the broadcast and lead up to the Merrie Monarch festivities. Students involved in the production will be interviewed and last year’s video “ʻO Poliʻahu me Kūkahauʻula” will also be aired during the broadcast this year.
STRATEGIC PLAN 2020
SP2020 is a five-year strategic plan that will guide Kamehameha Schools from 2015 to 2020. The plan marks a starting point toward KS’ Vision 2040, which envisions success for all Native Hawaiian learners.
Activities like these support Goal 1 and Goal 3 of SP2020 which call for KS to deliver world-class, culture-based education and to cultivate Native Hawaiian identity within its learners. It also supports Action 1 of Kamehameha’s Ten Actions for fiscal year 2016-17, advancing as a world-class KS school system.
April 01, 2016
KS Hawaiʻi students and kumu produce a featured video for the annual Hilo festival that connects them to their ancestors and their island.
April 24, 2014
Merrie Monarch. The mere whisper of this name may lead the listener down a vast corridor of thoughts, images and emotions. Some of us will be making the trek to Hilo to enjoy this week’s festivities while most of us will be watching comfortably from our homes.