Piʻikea Lopes performs No Puna Ke Āiwaiwa Hikina (Photo credit: Merrie Monarch Festival/Cody Yamaguchi)

One in the wind Oʻahu wahine (female) pursuing a master’s degree at the College of Education and Hawaiʻinuākea University of Hawaii School of Knowledge Hawaii at Mānoa won the coveted Miss Aloha Hula title at the 2022 Merrie Monarch Festival. Piʻikea Kekīhenelehuawewehiikekauʻōnohi lopestook top honors in the solo category of the competition held in Hilo on Thursday, April 21. Lopes is the daughter of the director of the Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language. R. Keawe Lopes, Jr.who is also her kumu hula (hula teacher) alongside her mother, Tracie from hālau (hula school) Ka Lā ʻŌnohi May O Haʻehaʻe.

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Lopes’ father’s Kohala family roots are honored on stage (Photo credit: Merrie Monarch Festival/Bruce Omori)

The 21-year-old is working on a Masters of Education in Teaching to help nurture her dreams of becoming a Hawaiian immersion school kumu. Thousands tuned in to watch Lopes take on nine other soloists at the 59th annual hula festival in Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium. She won the title with a score of 1,168 points, with a 63-point lead over second place in the competition. Lopes also won the Office of Hawaiian Affairs ʻōlelo Hawaii (Hawaiian language).

“The Hawai’inuiakea ʻohana is very proud of our haumāna (student) Piʻikea Lopes for her outstanding hula performance on Thursday night,” said Hawai’inuiakea Dean Jon Kamakawiwoʻole Osorio. “She maintains a legacy of excellence in craftsmanship and preparation that is characteristic of her halau, Ka Lā ʻŌnohi May o Ha’eha’e, and her parents, Tracie, a former Ms. Aloha Hula, and Kumu hula, Keawe Lopes, director of the Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language. The life of our language and our arts continues thanks to families like the Lopes.

Nā mele (songs)

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R. Keawe Lopes, Jr.

Hula kahiko (traditional dance) of Lopes, No Puna Ke Āiwaiwa Hikina worships the Puna district, Hawaii, and expresses the need to continue to cherish and cling to traditional references in mele and moʻolelo (stories) that continue to help make sense of and navigate the present.

Her modern dance or hula ʻauana paid homage to his father Keawe’s line in Kohala. Lopes slipped through the Hawaii Island scene in mele, Pua Be-Still composed by famous musician Bill Aliʻinoa Lincoln mentioning the scenic landscape that the natives of Kohala embrace and cherish in their memories.

hula lineage

This is the second consecutive Miss Aloha Hula title won by Keawe and Tracie’s hālau. In 2021, Rosemary Ka’imilei Keamoai-Stricklandan old ʻōlelo Hawaii student at uh Mānoa won the honor at the legendary hula festival.

Keamoai-Strickland performed her farewell hula on stage ahead of the announcement of the 2022 Miss Aloha Hula Awards.

Audiences will be able to see hālau from across the state and the United States on K5’s live and television broadcasts on Friday, April 22 (Hula Kahiko) and Saturday, April 23 (Hula ʻAuana).