‘O Hawai‘i Ku‘u Kulāiwi: Songs of My Beloved Homeland
Kulāiwi literally means "plain of bones." This single word so clearly illuminates our people's perception of our native land, this place we call home. Hawai‘i is not just where your ancestors are from, where you were born and raised, or where your family continues to reside. Your kulāiwi is more than that. It is the land in which your ancestors have been buried, and where your iwi may one day return to join theirs in the earth that feeds and sustains future generations. Therefore, to love our land is to love our ancestors.
Because we love our kulāiwi in such a deeply personal way, we are driven to express that aloha through various actions. Some people express their love by composing and performing mele that extoll the beauty of their homeland. Some are inspired to delve into cultural arts and practices as masters of their craft. For others, intense love for their place activates political or civic engagement, leading them to become voices for their communities. Others still may find their passion in resource management, land stewardship, or even food sustainability. However this aloha manifests for you, it is an ancestral connection inherited from those very kūpuna who make up our kulāiwi.
E Hawai‘i e ku'u one hānau ē, ku'u home kulāiwi nei
O Hawai‘i, o sands of my birth, my native home
Louise Aoe McGregor Award
Outstanding Student Director
‘Elia Akaka (Sophomore combined)
Mikayla Ah Sam (Senior girls)
Richard Lyman, Jr. Trophy
‘Ōlelo Makuahine Award
Class of 2017 (Junior combined)
New England Mothers’ Cup
Girls’ Competition Award
Class of 2016 (Seniors)
(Mikayla Ah Sam, song director)
George Alanson Andrus Cup
Boys’ Competition Award
Class of 2017 (Juniors)
(Josian Kunipo, song director)
Helen Desha Beamer Award
Best Musical Performance
Class of 2017 (Junior combined)
Charles E. King Cup
Combined Class Award
Class of 2017 (Juniors)
(Keanu Ruperti, song director)
Song Director: Ian Imamura | Papa: 12 | Hometown: Kāne‘ohe, HI
Bringing a song's arrangement to life is Ian's favorite part of being a director. He hopes to instill in his classmates the motivation they need to reach their goal. Being a leader has proven to be difficult at times, but Ian has always been willing to take control and step up to the plate when needed. Ian aspires to become a music producer and will major in business and music in college.
"To be a good leader, I must be respectable, committed and self-driven."
Song Director: Mikayla AhSam | Papa: 12 | Hometown: Kāne‘ohe, HI
As this is Mikayla's third year as her class' girls director and the drum major for the KS Warrior Marching Band and Color Guard, she has grown into her leadership roles and finds it surreal. She's honored to have a unique opportunity to teach her peers and make an impact in their lives. Mikayla will continue to study music in college and strives to become a leader in her community.
"Although it's sometimes tough to find a median between being a friend and being a leader, at the end of the day, it feels great to do what you enjoy."
Song Director: Dillon Livae | Papa: 12 | Hometown: Kalaepōhaku, O‘ahu
Watching Song Contests as a child, Dillon was amazed how the directors were able to bring 450 different voices together, implanting the dream to become a director. As a leader, Dillon has learned that you can't let criticism get to you. This should help him later in life, as he plans to become a doctor of psychology.
"You hear a lot of feedback from your peers and teachers, you just need to learn to filter what you hear and take in."
Song Director: Josiah Kunipo | Papa: 11 | Hometown: Nānākuli, HI
Josiah watched his three older siblings participate in Song Contest growing up, which developed his interest in becoming a director. As a director, he has learned the need to step out of his comfort zone to lead his class, which has helped him to gain the trust and respect of his men for the past two years.
"As a leader I have a lot more responsibility than I think I do."
Song Director: PhyllisMarie Dano | Papa: 11 | Hometown: Kāne‘ohe, HI
The love of music has been passed down for generations in Phyllis' family. Being humble, kind and assertive is what's important to Phyllis as a leader. She tries to influence her class do well with encouragement to keep trying, knowing it is important to understand that no one is perfect and that everyone makes mistakes. Phyllis is also a member of the deputation team and was a manager for the football team.
"I love being able to connect with others that love music and inspire other that don't have the same passion."
Song Director: Reyn Keanu Ruperti | Papa: 11 | Hometown: Kāne‘ohe, HI
Keanu believes that being a good leader means respecting those you lead. One of the best things he enjoys about being a director is being able to associate with all of his classmates, meeting new people and hearing how they feel on Song Contest, school and life. Keanu is also a part of Keaka Kamehameha drama club and the Youth Performing Arts Center, and hopes to become a church leader after he graduates from Bible college.
"If you give respect, you get respect in return."
Song Director: Kona Abergas | Papa: 10 | Hometown: Mililani, HI
Kona developed a passion for choral music at a young age. Being a part of a choir throughout his life has exposed him to many different experiences and meeting new people from all over. These experiences have helped Kona strengthen the bond with his classmates and share his passion for music with them.
"I have been privileged to be a part of so many different experiences and have learned to see different perspectives."
Song Director: Teeya Le‘i | Papa: 10 | Hometown: Kahuku, HI
Balancing academics, a demanding extra-curricular activities schedule and Song Contest director responsibilities is a delicate task for Teeya, but it helps keeps her grounded and focused. Especially on the rugby pitch, she learns the value of being a part of a team. She will take that sense of teamwork with her as she leads her class on Song Contest night.
"Being in rugby has made me a strong-minded person because the opponents I face are bigger and stronger than me."
Song Director: ‘Elia Akaka | Papa: 10 | Hometown: Mō‘ili‘ili, HI
At a young age, ʻElia's dedication to his culture is impressive. Much like in any leadership position, ʻElia believes the key to success is patience. With a combination of patience and practice he is able to skillfully lead the class of 2018. As an aspiring graphic artist, ʻElia dreams of one day creating his own culturally-based clothing line.
"Aia nō i ke kō a ke au – Time will tell."
Song Director: Miranda Burigsay | Papa: 9 | Hometown: Waipahu, HI
A student leader since elementary, Miranda was excited to be chosen as her class' first song director because it combines two of her passions – leadership and music. Specifically, she appreciates the impact she has on her classmates' Song Contest experience.
"I know I won't be able to satisfy everyone but I am going to keep doing what I am doing and hope to pick up followers along the way."
This year's hō‘ike presentation will be an expression of Hawaiian patriotism. The birth of the islands of Hawai‘i is recounted and the devotion of kānaka to care for the ‘āina—our ancestor—is celebrated. The depth of our devotion is tested when our beloved home is under threat, and we lift up our youth to be proud, vigilant, and ever-ready to defend and protect it at all costs—aloha ‘āina.
Louise Aoe McGregor Award recognizes the student director who has made the most significant contribution to the class in organizational ability, leadership, assistance to others and persistence.
Richard Lyman, Jr., ‘Ōlelo Makuahine Award recognizes excellence in the use of the Hawaiian language within a song.
George Alanson Andrus Cup is awarded to the winner of the men's competition.
New England Mother's Cup is awarded to the winner of the women's competition.
Helen Desha Beamer Award recognizes the best musical performance.
Charles E. King Cup is awarded to the winner of the combined class competition.