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The Battle of Kuamoʻo retakes the Hōʻike stage to share a significant moment in Hawaiian history on March 14 and 15, before heading to Scotland in August.

Battle of Kuamoʻo returns to the Hōʻike stage before traveling to Scotland

Feb. 7, 2019

Rehearsals are already in full swing as Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi students prepare for their annual showcase, Hōʻike. This year’s production is an adapted version of “The Battle of Kuamoʻo”, the school’s second original Hawaiian opera that premiered at Hōʻike 2014.

Hōʻike 2019 will take place on March 14 and 15 in Koaiʻa Gymnasium. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the show starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are available for $5, with a special $20 early entry package which includes pre-show pupus from 4 to 5 p.m. Show and ticket information will be available at on Feb. 20. 

As always, Hōʻike showcases a significant moment in Hawaiian history. “The Battle of Kuamoʻo” revolves around Liholiho’s decision not to reinstate the ‘ai kapu and Kekuaokalani’s objection and eventual war against Liholiho. There is also an added layer of complexity through an internal conflict for Manono, Kekuaokalani’s wife. Manono deals with the guilt of being part of the rifle company that cuts down the O‘ahu forces at the battle of Nu‘uanu and the conflict with her values that arises. In the end she recognizes the importance of standing for what she believes in and not assimilating into western culture even if this means death, her eventual destiny.

The opera is presented in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language). But even for those who are unable to understand the language, the powerful story resonates throughout the music, epic battle scenes and poignant moments between the characters.

Following the all-school performance, a traveling cast of 25 haumāna will be re-working the show with performances across the island in preparation for a worldwide showcase this summer at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s largest performing arts festival. Funds raised from the Hōʻike performances will help to defray travel costs for the students participating in this venture in representing Hawaiian culture and moʻolelo on an incredible stage.

Hōʻike is an all-school production. In addition to learning the music, dance and fight choreography, high school students are learning more about the history behind the story in their classes. By understanding the sequence of events and having critical thinking opportunities around the consequences of actions taken, students can gain a greater appreciation for the culture and history of how Hawaiians have arrived at this moment and time.

In August of 2016, KS Hawaiʻi brough the Hawaiian language opera “Hāʻupu” to the Fringe Festival, a first of its kind of production in the 70-plus year history of the festival. It represented a powerful milestone in showcasing Hawaiian language, dance and culture to a worldwide audience.

Watch the Hōʻike 2014 "Battle of Kuamoʻo" production on our YouTube channel

Battle of Kuamoʻo was first presented in 2014 as the second Hawaiian language opera KS Hawaiʻi had produced.

As our Kula Kiʻekiʻe prepares to deliver their annual Hōʻike, haumāna learn more about the history behind the story for The Battle of Kuamoʻo. Kumu Kalani Makekau-Whittaker presented to 9th and 10th graders about this critical turning point in our history. Provoking critical thinking in our students regarding the Battle of Kuamo’o and events leading up to this significant moment.

Hō‘ike 2014 dramatizes the moments that lead to the final battle for the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi.The story begins months after Kamehameha the Greatʻs death and follows the power struggle between Kamehameha II, Liholiho, and the keeper of the war god, Kekuaokalani. After Liholiho—on the advice of Ka‘ahumanu— decides not to reinstate the ʻai kapu, which in essence strikes down the ancient religious system, Kekuaokalani, the defender of the the ancient gods, rises up in rebellion against Liholiho. The result is the battle of Kuamoʻo, the war between the traditional and the modern. At the center of this is Manono, Kekuaokalaniʻs wife, whose dedication and love drives her husband forward in his defense of the ancient religion. In the end both die performing the greatest sacrifice a human can for his or her culture.Battle of Kuamoʻo will be reprised for Kamehameha Schools Hawai'i Hōʻike 2019 on March 14 and 15, and then travel to Scotland in August for several performances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world's largest performing arts festival.

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