Battle of Kuamo'o returns to the Hō'ike stage before traveling to Scotland

Feb. 7, 2019

Contributed by Shaundor Chillingworth

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