Services set for Na'ope


POSTED: Sunday, November 01, 2009

Services for George Louis Lanakilakekiahiali'i Na'ope, a co-founder of the Merrie Monarch hula festival who was known widely as “;Uncle George,”; will be held Friday and Saturday at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo.

Na'ope, 81, of Hilo, a kanaka loea and master kumu hula, died Monday after a long illness.

Born in Kalihi and raised on Hawaii island, Na'ope began his study of hula at age 3 under his great-grandmother Mary Malia-Pukaokalani Na'ope and then with kumu hula 'Iolani Luahine and “;Mama”; Fuji.

Naope taught hula in Hawaii and around the world.

He dreamed up the Merrie Monarch Festival as a tourist draw for Hilo in the 1960s. It has grown into Hawaii's premier hula competition.

In 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts gave Na'ope the National Heritage Fellowship Award, its highest honor for the folk arts. He was also recognized by the state as a “;living golden treasure.”;

Na'ope is survived by a hanai son, Beyers H.; brother Francis; and sisters Eileen Crum, Bernie Konanui and Emma Werley.

Services are at 5:30 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday at the auditorium. Visitors may call after 1 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday. Aloha attire is requested.