Haumāna eager to celebrate their Hawaiian heritage at KS Maui’s ʻAha Mele

May. 2, 2022

The excitement is building at Kamehameha Schools Maui, with the ʻAʻapueo campus ready to welcome back a live audience this week for ʻAha Mele after last year’s virtual event and the cancellation of the 2020 song competition. Even though the classes compete against each other, the haumāna will unite to celebrate this year’s theme.

“As each class performs a song that showcases our love for our land and our people, I hope that everyone – our classes, our haumāna, our kumu, our poʻo, and our audience – take away a better understanding and a more personal connection to our theme, Kūpaʻa Ke Aloha ʻĀina, and to understand what it really means to be a steadfast steward of land and people,” said senior Kahiau Snyder, one of the student speakers.

Senior Kawena Espania has served as song conductor for the Class of 2022 since their freshman year. She will be leading them in, “Mele ʻO Kahoʻolawe.”

“Over the years, I’ve felt like I had a special connection with my class,” she said. “Being the conductor for the class is never an easy task to do since you have to plan practices and know everybody’s parts, but it’s really fun and it’s a great way to show your leadership.”

The first ‘Aha Mele was held in 2003, and at that time it was called Song Fest. The event took place at War Memorial Stadium in Wailuku since Kaʻulaheanuiokamoku Gymnasium was not yet built.

“ʻAha Mele stemmed off from the Kapālama Song Contest. We have a little different vibe here at the Maui campus, but still we want to continue Kamehameha Schools’ choral traditions,” explained kumu Kalei ʻAʻarona-Lorenzo KSK’85.

The class with the highest combined score in music, ʻōlelo and overall presentation will earn the prized “Ka Maka o Ka Ihe – The Point of the Spear” award. Other honors include the Ka Hulu Kupuna award for excellence in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, the Ka Malu o ʻAʻapueo award for the best performance between kāne and wāhine, and the Ka Lei Pauahi student director award.

“If our haumāna can take away that aloha, that pilina, that reciprocal relationship with each other, with their classmates, with their ʻohana, their community, our ʻāina – that to me is the biggest lesson of ʻAha Mele,” said kumu Henohea Kāne.

The haumāna appreciate the countless hours their kumu have put in behind the scenes to help with the preparations.

“Being back in person and singing, it just makes me happy and I’m so grateful for this opportunity,” said senior Leimana Purdy, who will conduct “Hawaiʻi Aloha,” which will be performed by all the classes together.

Watch the ʻAha Mele here.