Ka ʻIu O Hoku cast celebrates a successful first night debut of their Hōʻike.
Kamehameha Schools delivers world-class, Hawaiian culture-based education. Campus traditions like Hōʻike offer students an opportunity to connect to and showcase their culture through the stories of their kūpuna told through a contemporary lens. Participation in events like Hōʻike helps cultivate a strong Native Hawaiian identity that instills confidence and resiliency in our learners.
Two stories of nineteenth century ali‘i bound by a common fate came to life at this year's Kamehameha Schools Hawai‘i High School Hō‘ike.
Blending their names, the combined work was titled Ka ‘Iu O Hoku, which translate to the highest of the stars, an apt description for the quality performance delivered.
Local playwright and educator Clarence Waipa had written both of the plays as part of a trilogy series at St. Joseph School, with “Almost a King” first premiering in 1979. The other play, Liliʻu E, was produced in 1982 and then Kaʻiulani in 1986.
“We continue to ensure the foundation of our kupuna that we stand upon is firm so that we are able to continue to seek ancestral knowledge and intelligence as we move progressively into our future,” shares Dr. Lehua Veincent, KSH Poʻokumu, Kula Kiʻekiʻe.
In the show’s program, Veincent describes his experience learning from Waipa, who was his high school kumu and choir director and how honored he is for KS Hawaiʻi to bring these moʻolelo of these aliʻi as written by Waipa to the stage once again.
“My aloha and mahalo goes out always to Mr. Clarence Waipa for all that he has done for me and for many in our Hawaiʻi Island community,” writes Veincent.
"Almost a King" told the story of William Pitt Leleiōhoku II (played by junior Jameson Sato) and the love he pursued despite the conflicts that challenged his birth right.
"Ka‘iulani" shared the journey of Princess Victoria Ka‘iulani Cleghorn (played by junior Mara-Jayde Brown) from young child through her tragic end.
Both ali‘i, seemingly destined to rule, had their lives cut short before ever assuming the throne of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i.
“After the stage lights have dimmed, it is the hope that the moʻolelo of Leleiōhoku and Kaʻiulani guide us on the pono pathway and lead us through those portals of opportunities for us as individuals now, with more clarity of our historical past,” said Veincent.
At the end of the second night, Sato was beaming, proudly wearing the praise he had earned from his friends and family for his performance.
He emotionally recounted words that his uncle had shared with him a few minutes prior. How his singing voice had reminded him of another uncle that recently passed.
"It was an amazing experience and I am glad I was able to represent Leleiohoku in this production," said Sato.
"I'm proud of the fact that I got to be a part of telling a story that wasn't really known. That was the most exciting thing to me."
Senior Pomai Longakit has been participating as an actor in Hō‘ike since she was a freshman. But when taking on a smaller role in this year's production, she recounted with gratitude the old theater adage that there are no small parts and the lessons of humility learned.
"Everyone has a purpose and how you take that purpose and put it into the show makes that show," shared Longakit.
In fulfilling her purpose, she delivered a great deal of comic relief in a fun scene with Ka‘iulani and two schoolmates, getting one of the largest pops of laughter from the audience. She also delivered an incredible musical highlight of the show, singing a accapella solo of "Ku‘u Pu‘e One" accompanied by freshman dancer Gianna Manuel-Cortez.
Junior Ku‘uhiapo Jeong was happy with results. While different in many ways from the operas of the past few years, the slower, more intimate storylines allowed for a connection to what was being shared and the characters.
"I really felt we pulled this Hō‘ike off because the message was so clear in what we were acting and presenting," said Jeong.
Now for he and his cast mates who journeyed to Scotland last summer for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the work begins on refreshing their roles for a special performance of Hā‘upu at the Maui Arts & Culture Center on April 29.
“We are so very thankful for the many hearts, minds, and hands that have joined together to produce this fascinating hōʻike,” writes KS Hawaiʻi Poʻo Kula Kāhealani Naeʻole-Wong. “Mahalo a nui loa to our haumāna whose passion, dedication, and tireless preparation shine in this vibrant performance; to our ʻohana who provide backbone support, guidance, and encouragement; to our faculty and staff for inspiring excellence, appreciation, and aloha in all educational endeavors; and to the countless volunteers and supporters who contribute to bringing remarkable events like Ka ʻIu o Hoku to the stage here in ʻŌlaʻa.”
Monies raised from ticket sales of the performance support extracurricular experiences, like being able to participate in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, for students.
See the full archived version of the live broadcast of Ka ‘Iu O Hoku on the Lehua TV YouTube channel. Or watch each act seperately below.
Download a copy of the show's program, which includes the cast and more information on author Clarence Waipa and a synopsis of the show.
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.