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Veteran performers dominate Merrie Monarch


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POSTED: Sunday, April 19, 2009

Two veteran kumu hula participants of the Merrie Monarch festival came up on top at an especially memorable competition that wrapped up Saturday night at Hilo’s Edith Kanakaole Stadium.

O’Brian Eselu’s kane of halau Ke Kai O Kahiki won the overall title, gathering 1,151 points, thanks to their winning the kahiko (ancient) category and taking second place in 'auana (contemporary). While both William Kahakuleilehua Haunu‘u “Sonny” Ching’s kane and wahine of Halau Na Mamo O Pu'uanahula racked up enough points to win the overall wahine division and come in second place, 10 points behind Eselu's halau, in the kane division, Ching's halau was considered the runner-up to Eselu's for overall winner, by taking the best cumulative total of Ching's wahine of 1,142 points - just one point better than Ching's kane.

2007 and '08's overall winner, kumu hula Kau'ionalani Kamana'o and Kunewa Mook's Hula Halau 'O Kamuela, didn't complete the trifecta in this year's festival, but did win the wahine 'auana category, thanks to a glorious performance of “Panini Pua Kea” at the end of last night's competition.

The Hilo halau of Rae Fonseca's Halau Hula 'O Kahikilaulani performed well in their hometown by taking second place in wahine kahiko and third in wahine overall.

And it looks like Keali'i Reichel will have to continue to put his singing career on hold, as he's sure to return next year to Merrie Monarch, due to his wahine of Halau Ke'alaokamaile taking fourth place in the 'auana category, as well as his dancer Cherissa Kane winning this year's Miss Aloha Hula title on Friday night.

The results

Wahine Kahiko
1. Halau Na Mamo O Pu‘uanahulu (kumu hula William Kahakuleilehua Haunu‘u “Sonny” Ching) - 564 pts.
2. Halau Hula ‘O Kahikilaulani (Rae K. Fonseca) - 557 pts.
3. Halau Mohala ‘Ilima (Mapuana de Silva) - 544 pts.
4. Hula Halau ‘O Kamuela (Kaui‘onalani Kamana‘o & Kunewa Mook) - 542 pts.
5. Halau Na Lei O Kaholoku (Leialoha Lim Amina & Nani Lim Yap) - 535 pts.

Wahine ‘Auana
1. Hula Halau ‘O Kamuela - 583 pts.
2. Halau Na Mamo O Pu‘uanahulu - 578 pts.
3. Ka La ‘Onohi Mai O Ha‘eha‘e (Tracie & Keawe Lopes) - 568 pts.
4. Halau Ke‘alaokamaile (Keali‘i Reichel) - 567 pts.
5. Halau Na Lei Kamaka O Uka (Napua Greig & Kahulu Maluo-Huber) - 566 pts.

Wahine Overall
1. Halau Na Mamo O Pu‘uanahulu - 1,142 pts.
2. Hula Halau ‘O Kamuela - 1,125 pts.
3. Halau Hula ‘O Kahikilaulani - 1,118 pts.

Kane Kahiko
1. Ke Kai O Kahiki (O’Brian Eselu) - 567 pts.
2. Halau Na Mamo O Pu‘anahulu - 551 pts.
3. Kawaili‘ula (Chinky Mahoe) - 511 pts.
4. Halau Hula ‘O Kahikilaulani - 507 pts.

Kane ‘Auana
1. Halau Na Mamo O Pu‘uanahulu - 590 pts.
2. Ke Kai O Kahiki - 584 pts.
3. Kawaili‘ula - 569 pts.
4. Halau Ka Liko Pua O Kalaniakea (Kapua Dalire-Moe) - 551 pts.

Kane Overall
1. Ke Kai O Kahiki - 1,151 pts.
2. Halau Na Mamo O Pu‘uanahulu - 1,141 pts.
3. Kawaili‘ula - 1,080 pts.

Overall Winner
1. Ke Kai O Kahiki - 1,151 pts.
2. Halau Na Mamo O Pu‘uanahulu - 1,142 pts.