Public is invited to ʻImiloa’s 2023 Merrie Monarch Cultural Enrichment Programs on hula, mele, Hawaiian arts

During Merrie Monarch Festival, the public is invited to UH Hilo’s ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center for presentations and workshops with experts in hula, mele, and Hawaiian arts.

Poster: Join us for 'Imiloa Merrie Monarch Enrichment Programming. 4/12, 13 and 14: 10-11:30am and 1:00-2:30pm. Image of hula dancer and photo of 'Imiloa center.

Kaiu Kimura
Ka‘iu Kimura

The public is invited to University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center for several enrichment workshops and presentations during this year’s Merrie Monarch festivities April 12-14. This year, ‘Imiloa is hosting interactive events on hula, mele, pahu, lauhala, and lei.

“We’re delighted to host another year of Merrie Monarch programs at our center for the Hawai‘i community and for those who are visiting Hilo for this internationally acclaimed festival,” says Ka‘iu Kimura, executive director of ‘Imiloa. “We have a diverse offering of programs this year in the mornings and afternoons that we’re sure will be of interest to all ages.”

‘Imiloa’s Merrie Monarch Enrichment Programs

Pahu Presentation and Hula Pahu Performance with Kana‘e Keawe and Alice Christophe

Wednesday, April 12, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

Explore the legacy and future of Hawaiian drums with artisan Kana‘e Keawe and British Museum curator Alice Christophe.

Kana‘e Keawe is a cultural practitioner and artisan based in Hilo, Hawai‘i, and has dedicated his life to learning and perpetuating a wide range of Hawaiian cultural practices, including, but not limited to, kapa, kapa making tools, and pahu carving.

Alice Christophe is a curator in the Oceania section of the British Museum in London, where she leads the Benioff Oceania Programme. Her current research interests include Pacific museologies, collection trajectories, and stewardship methodologies.

Following this exclusive pahu presentation will be a special hula pahu performance by Kumu Hula and oli expert Kalena Silva and Kumu Hula Pele Harman.

Lovely Hula Girl: The Hapa Haole Hula Era with Kumu Hula Vicky Holt Takamine and Pua Ali‘i ‘Ilima

Wednesday, April 12, 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.

Kick-off the week of hula festivities by learning a Hapa Haole Hula from renowned Kumu Hula and honored judge of the 2023 Merrie Monarch Festival Hula Competition Vicky Holt Takamine. Kumu Vicky started her career as a professional hula dancer in Waikiki in 1963 and went on to ‘ūniki (graduate through the rituals of hula) as a Kumu Hula from hula master Maiki Aiu Lake in 1975.

Pua Ali‘i ‘Ilima is the hālau hula (school of traditional Hawaiian dance) founded by Vicky Holt Takamine in 1977. The hālau participates in cultural festivals and events throughout Hawai‘i, nationally, and internationally. Join us for this intimate hula workshop and gain a better understanding of the role that the Hapa Haole Hula genre has played in the history of hula. Participants are encouraged to bring their own water and pa‘ū or pareu to dance with for this workshop.

Lei Wili Workshop with Lehua Hauani‘o

Thursday, April 13, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

Explore your creativity and try your hand at lei-making in the wili-style with Hawaiian artist Lehua Hauani‘o.

Lehua is a well-known cultural specialist who has been sharing her familial artistry and expertise in indigenous foliage and lei techniques with the Hawai‘i community for over a decade. Learn best practices for gathering and preparing foliage and make your own lei wili to take home or to gift to a special someone during Merrie Monarch week. Participants will be provided with all necessary lei materials and get the option to choose the length of their lei while at the workshop (either kūpe‘e, great for wristband/anklet, or lei po‘o, a lei fit for the head).

Project Kuleana, Ke Mele Nei Musical Presentation

Thursday, April 13, 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.

This is a talk story and musical presentation from Project Kuleana and Friends. Project Kuleana aspires to increase the innate value of Hawaiian music and the performance of it to inspire people to reflect on one’s own kuleana. Project Kuleana seeks to encourage people to re discover, re-connect and re-instill what Hawaiian music and performers of Hawaiian music represent. Participants will get an exclusive look at the newest Project Kuleana music video and listen in on some “behind the scenes” stories from Project Kuleana ‘ōpio (aspiring youth). Then stay for a kanikapila session with co-founder and lead, Kīhei Nahale-a and friends.

Lauhala Presentation and Workshop with Ka‘ohu Seto

Friday, April 14, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

Create a lauhala bracelet with lauhala artisan, Duncan Ka‘ohu Seto. Ka‘ohu has been practicing the art of lauhala weaving for many decades. As a well known Native Hawaiian artist, Ka‘ohu has woven and repaired lauhala products varying from bracelets, mats and baskets, to pāpale (hat) and other very intricate items. Ka‘ohu will be at ‘Imiloa to host a special lauhala presentation and workshop. Learn best practices for gathering and preparing lauhala and make your own lauhala bracelet and fish ornament. Participants will be provided with all necessary materials with instruction on-site.

Unulau: Hula Presentation and Performance with Kumu Pele Kaio

Friday, April 14, 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.

Unulau is a hālau hula under the direction of Kumu Hula Pele Kaio. Anchored in the philosophy and fire traditions of the hula ‘aiha‘a, Unulau continues to promote and perpetuate knowledge and education through hula as the platform by which people engage, inspire, and inform their relationship to the environment and the spirit. From haki kino to ‘ūniki hula to taking a break from it all—the public is invited to join Unulau in sharing journeys in hula through talk-story, sharing of mele and hula, and a deep dive into how all are evolving their relationships to hula and growing because of it.


Interested visitors can view the full list of Merrie Monarch Cultural Enrichment Program offerings at As usual, ‘Imiloa members can take advantage of a reduced special programming fee.

Purchased tickets for any Merrie Monarch enrichment program includes same-day general admission access to ‘Imiloa’s Exhibit Hall and Planetarium programs.

Admission to Merrie Monarch Cultural Enrichment programs will be available starting noon Wednesday, March 22, with limited seating. Due to the popular demand for cultural programming, visitors are strongly encouraged to reserve admission via online reservation prior to visiting ‘Imiloa. Walk-ups will be accommodated based on first-come, first-served availability.

In addition to Merrie Monarch Cultural Enrichment Programming, ‘Imiloa will host “The Science of Kapa” traveling exhibit in the exhibit hall available to visitors from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. now through June 4.

ʻImiloa will be closed to the public for general admission on Easter Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, April 9, 10 and 11.

About ‘Imiloa

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center is an outreach educational center on the campus of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. Its mission is to share the legacy of Hawai‘i exploration in many fields through a wide range of exhibits, community outreach, programs, and other forms of informal science education. The center is distinctive in it’s architectural structures of conical-shaped buildings that house a welcoming lobby, exhibit hall, full-dome planetarium, café, 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.

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center exterior and gardens.
‘Imiloa Astronomy Center