Tori Canha wins Miss Aloha Hula

Tori Canha wins Miss Aloha Hula

Photo by courtesy of Tori Canha

Kamehameha Maui alumna Tori Canha ('07) was honored with the title of Miss Aloha Hula at the 2011 Merrie Monarch festival in Hilo.

By Dylan Godsey, news writer

Ms. Tori Hulali Canha (KSM ’07), won the title of Miss Aloha Hula this year at the Merrie Monarch Festival held in Hilo, Hawai’i, April 28.

We were understandably proud and asked her all about it. Here is what she had to say:

Q & A with Miss Aloha Hula

Q: What is the name of your hälau?

A: Hälau Ke’alaokamaile

Q: What does it mean to you to be Miss Aloha Hula?

A: For me, I am so happy that I was able to achieve the goals I set for myself when I first began my training for Miss Aloha Hula, and that was to bring pride to my family, to my kumu, to my halau, and to our home, Maui.  I knew I would accomplish these whether I won or not, placed or not.  Now that I hold this honorable title, I am very humbled every day to continue with these goals, which is really what I think being a Miss Aloha Hula is all about.

Q: Being Miss Aloha Hula, how will you help perpetuate Hawaiian culture?

A: I will continue to practice our hula and oli throughout this year and for many years to come, hopefully showing others around the world through my travels the importance of hula in our culture and how alive it is to this day.  To me, it is very important to be a practitioner of our cultural practices so that it may live on for the future generations to come.

Q: How exactly does one become Miss Aloha Hula?

A:After the contestant is chosen by her kumu hula, she endures months and months of training, not only physically (learning the different mele and oli) but mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.  Once it’s time to present the mele for the competition, it’s all up to the seven judges to determine the new Miss Aloha Hula for the year.  Being that these judges are well-respected for their abundance of ‘ike in all things Hawaiian, to me they are more than qualified to have the kuleana of selecting a new Miss Aloha Hula.

Q: Who was your biggest inspiration for becoming Miss Aloha Hula?

A: My biggest inspiration was my Uncle “Boy”, Charlie Iwata Jr., who passed away several years ago to cancer.  He was the backbone of our family and supported me in everything I did.  My grandmother was also a huge inspiration to me, being that now she is our rock, our strength for our family.  Whether they have passed or still here with us, all of my family was with me that night.

Q: Any suggestions to the girls who plan on becoming Miss Aloha Hula in the future?

A:I never imagined that I would ever set foot on the Merrie Monarch stage, nor did I ever think that my Kumu would consider me to fulfill this kuleana and represent my hälau.  Never lose sight of your dreams.  Hard work and dedication always pays off, although you may encounter many stuggles and obstacles, even in every day life.  Go for it!

Q: How many hours of preparation and practice does it take just for the Merrie Monarch competition?

A: For me as the Miss Hula entrant, I practiced every single day since January.  Even if it was just conditioning or exercising, I devoted some of my time every day to prepare myself for the competition.  For our group, we practiced three times a week.

Q: How does it feel now that you are Miss Aloha Hula?

A: I’m still stunned and very shocked!  I wake up every day thinking that I’m going to wake up for real and this was all a dream.  That’s how unrealistic this all seems, but I am very honored to hold this title and excited to see what this year will bring for me.

Q: How do you feel that your very own classmate came in as 1st runner up?

A: I am so incredibly happy that both of us Maui girls did well in the competition.  I had no doubt in my mind that Manalani would do awesome, and she surely did.  She represented her hälau exceptionally well, and her training really shined through that night.  Being able to bring the top 2 highest honors home to Maui is one of the proudest moments in my journey as Miss Aloha Hula.