Keith Kalanikau Awai
Kumu Hula Kalanikau Awai, master Hula Dance Instructor, was born in Honolulu and raised in Haleiwa (North Shore of O’ahu), Hawai’i. Keith attended Kamehameha Schools and the Church College of Hawai’i, now Brigham Young University – Hawai’i campus. While at Kamehameha, Keith first studied hula under the late Aunty Nona Beamer and afterward with the late Aunty Sally Moanikeala Wood Nalua’i, the first kumu hula of the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) since its opening in October 1963.
Following an uniki (graduation) ceremony in 1981 by Aunty Sally, Kumu Keith founded Hālau Kawaipu’ilani (“the water that feeds the spirit”) in his Haleiwa hometown, a product of Kumu Keith’s dream. Since then, Kumu Keith has also judged many hula competitions in Hawai’i and California, and conducted workshops throughout the mainland and in Japan.
Kumu Keith is employed as Cultural Specialist at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Lā’ie (www.polynesia.com), where he has been for over 40 years. Keith currently resides in Haleiwa.
James “Kimo” Luluhiwalani Awai III
Kumu Hula James “Kimo” Luluhiwalani Awai III, master Hula Dance Instructor and Cultural Advisor, was born in Honolulu, Hawai’i and spent his early youth in Kona, Hawai’i island and Haleiwa, O’ahu. Kimo attended Lahainaluna High School and the University of Hawai’i at Hilo. After high school, he lived in Honolulu before moving to the Big Island of Hawai’i where he remains a resident.
While in Hilo, he studied the Hawaiian language and the art of hula under the late Aunty Nona Beamer and with major influence from Aunty Pualani “Pua” Kanaka’ole Kanahele, a highly respected cultural practitioner, kumu hula, historian and teacher of Hawaiian traditions. As kumu hula of Hula Hālau Na Po’e Ao Hiwa (“bearers of the sacred light”), Kumu Kimo also serves as Kupuna at Keaukaha Elementary School which includes Ka ‘Umeke Kā’eo, a Hawaiian Language Charter School. He leads a full life also as a cosmetologist and licensed Buddhist minister in Hilo.
Kumu Kimo continues to share his Hawaiian cultural knowledge with the Big Island community as a spiritual leader and through lectures and workshops under programs such as Nā Pua No’eau at the University of Hawai’i – Hilo campus.
Pōmaikaʻi graduated in 2004 from Baldwin High School in Wailuku, Maui, and completed a Bachelor’s
in Hawaiian Studies at Brigham Young University – Hawai’i in 2010 after serving a two year Latter-day Saint mission in Tokyo, Japan. He has recently received the privilege of the title of Kumu Hula after completing the ʻūniki rite of passage in 2014.
Currently, Kumu Pōmaikaʻi works as a high school teacher teaching Hawaiian language and hula at Lahainaluna High School. It is there he teaches in the old style – nānā ka maka, hoʻolohe ka pepeiao, paʻa ka waha, hana ka lima: eyes observe, ears obey, mouth shut, hands work. Kumu Pōmaikaʻi also strives to teach the values of his kūpuna: ka ʻoiaʻiʻo – honesty, ke kuoʻo -seriousness, ke kōkua – service, ke aloha – love.
Teaching and Administrative Staff
Noelani was born in Washington, DC and began her Hawaiian studies with Hālau O ‘Aulani since its inception and through numerous added cultural summer activities in Hawai‘i. Noelani is a graduate of the University of Maryland and now pursuing a teaching degree at George Mason University. She resides in Alexandria, VA.
Born in Honolulu, Hawai’i, Ikaika began his Hawaiian studies with Hālau O ʻAulani in 1996 when the school first opened its doors. A graduate of George Mason University, he now teaches Health and Physical Education at the George Washington Middle School. He resides in Alexandria, VA.
Kaimana Chee, Kuma Hula, joined hālau in September 2012 to teach the keiki and intermediate classes. He brings over two decades of hula experience and has affiliate hālau in both Mauʻi and Tokyo, Japan. Kaimana was born and raised in Hauʻula on the north shore of Oʻahu, graduating from Kahuku High School in 1995 and Boise State University in 1999. He is an IT and Training Professional and has been living in the the Washington, DC area since 2004. Students in the keiki class absolutely adore their Uncle Kaimana and think that he is “amazing!”
Wilma has training in Dunham Technique, Afro-Haitian, Afro-Cuban, African and indigenous and folk Pilipino dances. She was born in Manila and raised in both Manila and the San Francisco Bay Area (where her family still resides). She graduated from San Francisco State University and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. A District resident, she produced for many years at National Public Radio and trained young people pursuing journalism. She is also a theater artist and a student of the culinary arts.
Hepua began her Hawaiian studies in 1993 and joined Hālau O ‘Aulani in the spring of 2009. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and is certified as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR). In addition to Polynesian dance and sharing the culture, Jonalyne enjoys her job in human resources and recruiting, eating at great restaurants and trying new recipes to write about in her food blog and spending time with great company. She currently resides in Baltimore, MD.
Poli began her Hawaiian studies in 1992 and joined Hālau O ‘Aulani in the spring of 2009. She is a freelance graphic designer and makeup artist, and she has worked on Celebrity Cruises during their Hawaiian Enrichment Series. Poli has a son, also enrolled at Hālau O ‘Aulani, and currently resides in Maryland.
Born and raised in Wai’anae, Hawai’i, Alika is the great-grandson of the late Kupuna Katherine Maunakea from whom he learned Hawaiian language and culture. His mother, Alexis, is a tenured Hawaiian language teacher in Hawai’i. After graduating from Kamehameha Schools in 1997 where he continued his study of Hawaiian language, Alika went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in Biology at Creighton University and doctoral degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco. Having obtained his Ph.D., Alika works as a research fellow at the National Institutes of Health and resides with his wife, Mei-Lin, and daughter, Kanoelani, in Bethesda, Maryland. His daughter is also a student at Hālau O ‘Aulani.
Glen was born in Honolulu, O’ahu, and raised on Kaua’i since age 7. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY, Southwestern University School of Law with a Master of Laws in Taxation from Georgetown University Law School, Glen has had a love of music since childhood. After his second move to the Washington, D.C. area, he found a renewed interest in Hawaiian music. While playing music for Hālau O ‘Aulani, Glen met fellow Hawai’i transplants, formed “The Aloha Boys” and has been entertaining audiences with traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music ever since. Glen, his wife Donna, and two daughters reside in Oak Hill, VA.
Jim was born and raised in south Florida with an appreciation for Japanese culture, which he got from his parents who emigrated from Japan. After college, Jim moved to the Washington, DC area to pursue a career in defense policy and military analysis. Despite a life-long fascination with Hawai‘i, he did not become seriously interested in its culture until his first visit in 1990 while on his honeymoon. Inspired by the music of Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole, he decided to take up the ukulele and found Hālau O ‘Aulani, where he began his studies under Glen Hirabayashi. He now assists Glen in teaching ukulele at Hālau O ‘Aulani, where his two daughters are also enrolled as students.
Wendell was born in Honolulu, Oahu, growing up in the Kapahulu and Kaimuki neighborhoods of the county. He is a graduate of Kalani High School, the University of Hawaii and Loyola University of Chicago School of Law. He came to Halau O Aulani in 2003 as a supportive parent of his daughter, Alyson, and thereafter has participated as a musician for the halau. He resides with his wife, Anne Lange, in Arlington, VA.
Megan was born and raised in Kahalu‘u, O‘ahu. She is a graduate of Iolani High School and Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA (B.A. degree in Political Science and double minor in International Relations and Business). Megan joined Hālau O ‘Aulani in January, 2014, after participating in the Graduate Gateway Program at American University. She resides in Arlington, VA, and is currently a member of the staff of U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono, where she serves as Asst. Scheduler/Asst. to the Chief of Staff.
Of Samoan and Irish descent, David is special instructor specializing in the Samoan culture. He was born and raised in Honolulu, O’ahu, where he attended Farrington High School and later Brigham Young University-Hawai’i Campus in Lā’ie. In 1985, he began work at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Lā’ie as a performer and member of the PCC Promotional Team performing all over the mainland and abroad. David is currently the Cultural Manager in the Theatre Department of the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Born and raised in Aotearoa (New Zealand) and is affiliated with the Ngapuhi Tribe of North Auckland, she moved to Hawai’i in 1968 to attend CCH (now known as BYU-Hawai’i) and majored in Home and Family Education. Char worked in the Maori Village, Night Show and the Educational Dept. at the Polynesian Cultural Center. She currently works at BYU-Hawai’i as the Special Instructor for the Exercise Sports Science Department with emphasis in Polynesian dancing.
Of Hawaiian, Maori (Ngai Tuhoe, Te Arawa, and Ngati Awa), Samoan, Tahitian, Tongan, Chinese, and Caucasian decent, Jerusha comes to us to share the Maori culture. Jerusha is originally from La’ie, Hawai’i and now lives in Hau’ula, Hawai’i.
Jerusha graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Pacific Island Studies from Brigham Young University-Hawai’i Campus and is currently a Doctoral candidate at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. Jerusha is a state licensed Special Education teacher for elementary and intermediate school students and also a co-teacher at UH-Manoa where she teaches masters and doctoral level students. Further, she earned her Maori Performing Arts Certificate from the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). Jerusha has shared her cultural talents as a performer at the Polynesian Cultural Center for 10 years, traveled as a member of Te Wananga Maori ki Hawaiki, and assisted hālau and hui prepare for Maori performances. She speaks Hawaiian and Maori, and has been dancing Polynesian dancing for over 30 years.
Catherine was born on the beautiful main island of Papeete, Tahiti, but was raised in Hau’ula, O’ahu, Hawai’i. She works at the Polynesian Cultural Center where she has been since her youth and has danced all over the world sharing and promoting the songs and dances of Polynesia in general. She continues to perpetuate her Tahitian culture with various Hālau in Hawai’i. Catherine also participates in different Tahitian festivals or Heivas both in Hawai’i and on the mainland.
Aunty Kanani was born on the island of Maui. Number 11 of 12 children, she graduated from the Kamehameha School for Girls where she met and married her high school sweetheart. She has 3 children. Her two sons, Kimo and Keith, are Kumu Hula of their own Hālau in Hawai’i. Her daughter is a busy mother and grandmother.
For more than 25 years, Aunty Kanani has been a Kupuna (elder, source of wisdom) at Haleiwa Elementary School where she shares the Hawaiian Culture with children. She also is a cultural Kupuna at Waimea Valley Park on the island of O’ahu. In addition, Aunty acts as an advisor to various Kupuna and Hawaiian organizations. Aunty Kanani is also a member of a musical trio, Ohana 3, and plays the piano, guitar, ukulele and the upright bass.
Administrative Support Staff
Board of Directors
Washington, D.C. attorney
Background: From Pu’unui, O’ahu. Tax Law Specialist, Internal Revenue Service, 1975-1977. Legislative Counsel to U.S. Senator Spark Matsunaga (D-HI),
Background: From Wahiawa, O’ahu. Personal/Appointments Secretary to U.S. Senator Spark Matsunaga (D-HI), 1978-1990; Executive Assistant to U.S. Rep. Robert T. Matsui (D-CA, 5th), 1990-2005, and U.S. Rep. Doris O. Matsui (D-CA, 5th), 2005. Retired after 27 years service.
Military Analyst, Program Manager – Northrop Grumman Information Systems, McLean, VA
Background: From Delray Beach, Florida. B.S. (Political Science), Massachusetts Institute of Technology; M.A. (International Relations), Johns Hopkins University. Military Analyst, RAND Corporation, 1985-1990.
Attorney Advisor, U.S. Tax Court, Washington, D.C.
Background: From Waimea, Kauai. West Point Academy graduate, 1969; Masters in Law, Georgetown Law School. Attorney, Internal Revenue Service national office, 1985-1986.
Research Staff Member – Information Technology and Systems Division, Institute for Defense Analyses, Alexandria, VA.
Background: From Chicago, Illinois. B.A. (Psychology), Northeastern Illinois University; M.S. (Management Services), DePaul University.
Before retiring from Federal service, held various management and technology positions at the U.S. General Services Administration, U.S. Veterans Administration, and U.S. Department of Defense.
Background: From Kailua, O’ahu. Graduate, Kamehameha School for Girls; Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, University of Redlands. Retired realtor. Board member, Hawaiian Civic Club, Washington, D.C. and Kamehameha Schools Alumni Association-East Coast.
Health and Physical Education teacher, George Washington Middle School, Alexandria, VA.
Background: From Honolulu, Hawai’i. Graduate of T.C. Williams High School, Alexandria, VA; Bachelor of Science-Education specialized in Health and Physical Education, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA.
Human Resources Manager, Mindgrub Technologies, Baltimore, MD
Background: Born in Misawa, Japan and raised in California, the Philippines, and Maryland. Graduate of Meade Senior High School, Ft. Meade, MD; Associates of Applied Science in Business Management with concentrations in Small Business and Communication, Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold, MD; Bachelor of Science in Psychology with concentrations in Biopsychology and Human Services, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD; Certified Professional in Human Resources, Human Resources Certification Institute; Society of Human Resources Management member.
Freelance Graphic Designer and Makeup Artist
Background: Born in the Philippines and raised in Japan, California, the Philippines and Maryland. Graduate of Meade Senior High School, Fort Meade, MD; Associate of Arts in Visual Arts with a concentration in Graphic Design, Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold, MD; Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, Art Institute of Washington, Arlington, VA.
Background: From Kaimuki, O’ahu. Graduate, Kalani High School; University of Hawai’i; Loyola University of Chicago School of Law. Retired legal journalist, managing editor for BNA, Inc.