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Halau an ohana affair

Manu‘aikohana Boyd will sing for other troupes in addition to his own during the Merrie Monarch

By Nina Wu

LAST UPDATED: 11:35 a.m. HST, Feb 12, 2014

With a clear, resonant voice that soars across the expansive gym floor, the voice of kumu hula Manu‘aikohana Boyd is hard to miss.

Aside from his role as kumu hula, Boyd is well known as the lead singer of Ho‘o­kena, a Na Hoku Hano­hano Award-winning Hawaiian music group, and cultural director of the Royal Hawaiian Center.

His Halau o ke ‘A‘ali‘i Ku Makani is competing in the Merrie Monarch Festival this year for the sixth time.

Boyd will sing the auana (modern) numbers for two other halau besides his own and for two Miss Aloha Hula candidates from the other halau.

His band, Hui Wai Anuhea o ka ‘Awapuhi, includes Boyd's own kumu hula, Robert Cazimero, along with musicians Keala Chock, Kala‘i Ontai and Mark Yim. They will be singing for Mapuana de Silva's Halau Mohala ‘Ilima as well as Maelia Loebenstein Carter's halau, Ka Pa Hula o Kauanoe o Wa‘a­hila.

At an informal hoike (show) April 1 at the Kokokahi YWCA gymnasium, there was an upbeat spirit and plenty of applause as all three halau ran through their Merrie Monarch numbers before an audience of family and friends.

This is the third of three stories providing a glimpse into the lives of three kumu hula and their halau as they prepare for the 49th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo:

>> Sunday: Lani-Girl Kaleiki-AhLo of ‘Ilima Hula Studio
>> Monday: Kapua Dalire-Moe of Ka Liko Pua o Kalaniakea
>> Today: Manu‘aikohana Boyd of Halau o ke ‘A‘ali‘i Ku Makani

WHEN TO WATCH Live broadcasts of the 49th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival begin at 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday on KFVE The Home Team, with live streaming at

Though they each have their own distinctive style and are competing against one another, the three halau feel like family because they share some of the same lineage of kumu hula.

"We're all sort of ohana," said Boyd.

Boyd, 49, is a graduate of Cazimero's Halau Na Kamalei and went on to establish his own halau in 1997. It's unusual to have his own kumu hula singing alongside him in his halau band, but it was Cazimero's choice to do so.

Boyd said mele play an important role in all of his hula.

"I'm really focused in general on mele, on songs and chants, whether I compose them or other people compose them, because they have their own spirit or life," he said. "We are basically bringing to life thoughts and feelings of entities that surround us, whether in this lifetime or in generations past."

Boyd said what matters to him more than placing at Merrie Monarch is pleasing his own kumu hula with what he presents.

For the competition, his halau will perform a kahiko (ancient-style) number composed by Boyd for Princess Likelike, a relation to his great-great-grandparents. The mele describes the fragrances of the Puna district on Hawaii island as it welcomes the princess.

In the auana portion, the halau will perform a mele composed by Helen Desha Beamer honoring Princess Kahanu, wife of Prince Kuhio, that will take the audience to the Wai­mea uplands in Kohala.

It has meaning to Boyd because he serves as president of the Hawaiian Civic Club of Hono­lulu, which was founded by Prince Kuhio.

"Everything we do in our world is interconnected somehow or other, in hula in particular," he said.

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