Upcoming Hawaiian festival, Oct. 15-16, designed to rebuild human connections after two years of isolation

“I kū mau mau, i kū wā! All at once! All together! Don’t miss out! I encourage you to participate, come ignite curiosity and the intention of this season! Pohā kō‘ele‘ele!”—Kekuhi Keali‘ikanaka‘oleohaililani

Flyer: Ikuwa, Oct. 15 & 16, 10 am - 3 pm at Imiloa. Photos of voyaging canoe and drums.

By Susan Enright

After two long years of living with isolation, masks, and quarantine mandates, a two-day festival designed to re-engage the island community in “interconnected awareness” with people and the natural environment will be held at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, an educational outreach center located on the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo campus, on Oct. 15-16, 2022. The festival is free and open to the public.

The ‘Ikuwā Festival is an extension of the center’s annual Wayfinding Festival held during October, but with emphasis on activities that help repair and rebuild human connection.

Kaiu Kimura pictured
Ka‘iu Kimura

“This ‘Ikuwā Festival is [meant to] weave the web of relationships,” says Ka‘iu Kimura, executive director of ‘Imiloa.

There will be demonstrations about canoe training, activity booths, take-home arts and crafts, live entertainment, presentations and storytelling, kūekeolioli keiki oli (children chant) competition, Makahiki games, local vendors, and food.

Co-sponsors are Lonoa Honua, a local group with a mission to connect people, places, and energies to one another through “Hawai‘i Life ways,” and ‘Ohana Wa‘a, another local group advancing collective health through traditional voyaging traditions and Native Hawaiian protocols. The ‘Ikuwā Festival is made possible with the support of the Ama OluKai Foundation.

“Participants [at the festival] can expect to re-engage our local community creatively, and enhance island consciousness, what it means to live and think like an island community, and recognize what impact you have on this ‘āina,” states the media release about the Ikuwā event.

Traditionally, Ikuwā is the time of transition from calm summer weather into the rainy season.

Kekuhi Keali'ikanaka'oleohaililani pictured
Kekuhi Keali’ikanaka’oleohaililani

“‘Ikuwā is the month when great storms arise, dark clouds form, the sea roars, thunder rolls, birds squawk, and the resounding energy of the honua vibrates,” says Kekuhi Keali‘ikanaka‘oleohaililani, founder of Lonoa Honua. “Let’s explore the spectrum of sound; there is even a breath of silence in this resounding, reverberating month.”

She adds, “I kū mau mau, i kū wā! All at once! All together! Don’t miss out! I encourage you to participate, come ignite curiosity and the intention of this season! Pohā kō‘ele‘ele!”

The festival also will showcase wa‘a (voyaging canoe).

Pōmai Bertelmann pictured
Pōmai Bertelmann

“The canoe is a great physical reminder of how connected we all really are, whether it be the community hands that labor on it, the resources used to provision a voyage, or the navigator collecting cues from nature to set course out at sea,” says Pōmai Bertelmann, ‘Ohana Wa‘a board member. “This festival will be a reflection of these relationships and ‘Ohana Wa‘a is ready to help share this story.”


Programs at the ‘Ikuwā Festival will run from 10:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15, and Sunday, Oct. 16, at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, located at 600 ʻImiloa Place at the UH Hilo University Park of Science and Technology.

The two-day event is free to the public and includes access to all festival activities, presentations and live performances in Moanahōkū Hall, ‘Imiloa’s Planetarium, exhibit hall, and outdoor gardens. Select crafts, retail and food vendors will require payment onsite.

Donations for the ‘Ikuwā Festival can be made at ‘Imiloa’s front desk.

For more information, email info.imiloa@hawaii.edu.

Gardens at Imiloa
‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s mission is to share Hawai‘i’s legacy of exploration in many fields through a wide range of exhibits, community outreach, programs, and other forms of informal science education. The center, located on the campus of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, is distinctive in it’s architectural structure of conical-shaped buildings housing a welcoming lobby, exhibit hall, full-dome planetarium, café (currently closed during pandemic), and gift shop. The center is surrounded by nine acres of native gardens. ‘Imiloa is located at the UH Hilo University Park of Science and Technology, 600 ‘Imiloa Place, off Komohana and Nowelo streets.

By Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories.