Monday, January 31, 2005

LYDIA KAUAKAHI / 1955-2005

‘Keeper of Culture’ blended
family life into her hula

Lydia Kauakahi would always take time for a student in need of guidance, even after illness forced her to scale back on her duties as a kumu hula.

"She's done that for family, for friends, for her students," said sister-in-law Marlene Kamakawiwo'ole.

"Lydia had danced since she was a little girl. It was a passion for her."

Kauakahi, kumu hula of Halau Kahauola and sister of late entertainers Israel and Henry "Skippy" Kamakawiwo'ole, died Tuesday after a months-long battle with heart and other health problems. She was 49.

Kauakahi was born in Honolulu and was married to Louis "Moon" Kauakahi of the Makaha Sons, with which her hula halau used to perform.

Kauakahi's halau took home honors at several Merrie Monarch Festivals over the years, including first place in 1982.

In 1989, Kauakahi was one of several featured in a documentary called "Kumu Hula: Keepers of a Culture."

Marlene Kamakawiwo'ole said Kauakahi's hula was a "product of her family life."

"It was something that was instilled in her," she added.

Kauakahi also passed hula on to her own daughter, Sheyenne, Kamakawiwo'ole said.

Survivors include her husband, daughter and two grandchildren.

Services are set for 7 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday at Borthwick Mortuary. Visitations are scheduled for Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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