20th anniversary lūʻau connects culture, fun


Photo by Faith Owan

Junior Kaena Wojcieski is front and center during a Hawaiian Ensemble and Ka Pā Hula o ʻAʻapueo hula performance at the 20th Anniversary Pōʻalima ‘Ulaʻula on Feb. 19.

The entire campus celebrated KS Maui’s 20th anniversary today with worship, entertainment, food, and fun as they connected with their Hawaiian culture on the second Pōʻalima ʻUlaʻula of the school year.

“My understanding is it was a dream of [Poʻokula Lee Ann DeLima] that for the 20th anniversary we’d have a Red Friday, and the entire school come out and celebrate and be together as a family,” Kumu Lōkahi Antonio said, “and what better way to do it than with a lūʻau? That was what she wanted.”

The day started with the elementary, middle, and high school levels joining for a chapel service at Kahekili Gymnasium, where students learned more about the history of Kamehameha Schools Maui and watched a hula performance by the middle school.

Next, each level (elementary, middle, and high school) returned to their campus and watched several versions of Voyage into the Depths of Kanaloa. This is a documentary of a yearlong program in which high school juniors and seniors were trained in traditional navigation and introduced to the maritime industry. As part of the program, 25 people—14 of those were students—sailed on a voyage to Mokumanamana 500 miles northwest of Oʻahu.

Gyle McGurn, a KS Maui 2014 graduate, was one of those students.

“I feel that it completely turned my life around,” he said. “Made me realize that I have a purpose in my life, and I love the ocean even more now.”

McGurn is now studying Marine Transportation at the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo, California, and he hopes to become the caption of a merchant ship. He said that the maritime industry is the perfect career for ocean lovers and that upcoming graduates who don’t know what to go into should look into it to see if they’re interested.

He recommends going on the voyage to Mokumanamana for anyone searching for a purpose.

“Like I said earlier, it can totally make you realize what you were put on this earth to do,” he said. “Whether you realize a specific thing you want to do or realize a difference you want to make.”

Being able to share our story that changed our lives is really, really awesome.

— Hina Keala

Another student who went on the voyage was Hina Keala, a sophomore at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa majoring in Hawaiian Studies.

Keala was “overwhelmed with knowledge” during the voyage; however, she didn’t expect that the film would attract such a wide audience.

“The video just started out just so we could take something to our parents. We had no idea that it was going to turn into, like, this documentary that tours all over,” she said, “so being able to share our story that changed our lives is really, really awesome.”

Keala said that students should go on the voyage whether they want to be mariners or not because it’s a way to find themselves. She would “definitely, definitely suggest it to anybody.”

After the documentary, the entire student body gathered on the high school quad under a large tent. They listened to live Hawaiian music until the lūʻau food was served to students, starting from the youngest grade level to the oldest.

The rest of the day was filled with eating, talking, music, hula, and prizes. Student from the elementary, middle, and high school performed hula, along with teachers who did a surprise performance.

McGurn said that he’s “stoked” to be back at KS Maui for its 20th anniversary.

“It’s crazy how it looks the same, it smells the same, and how all the little kids that were sophomores when I was a senior are seniors now, and everyone’s all grown up, and it’s really cool,” he said.

All of KS Maui stood in a circle around the quad to sing “I Mua Kamehameha” and pule to close the day.