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May Day is Lei Day in Hawaiʻi

May 1, 2017

He lei poina ʻole ke keiki - a child is a lei never forgotten


I've been absolutely blessed to have been brought up in such strong values and a rich culture as that of Hawaiʻi and I owe this all to my parents, to whom I would not have experienced and thrived in so many traditions were it not for their passion for mele and hula. They continue to weave a beautiful lei full of unique pua and because of them, I can now contribute to this hana maikaʻi through our annual May Day program at Island Pacific Academy. 


My mom, Kumu Momi, started the May Day program at IPA 10 years ago with the intent to simply revive a dying tradition, share the Hawaiian culture and inspire pride in this ʻāina in which we live. The program started with grades pre-K through 5 in it's first few years and has now grown to a school-wide event with students K-12, faculty, staff, parents, and more participating in so many ways. Each and every grade-level share a hula that takes months of learning and rehearsing... but what makes this event even more unique is that all of the mele throughout the entire program are Hawaiian. 


Each year my mother chooses a different theme for May Day. This being our 10th annual May Day, she decided that it would be a good year to remember the importance of our keiki. This year’s May Day theme, He lei poina ʻole ke keiki is an ʻōlelo noʻeau (wise saying) which means, “a child is a lei never forgotten”. As we introduced the theme and various mele to our students, we shared that Hawaiian words can hold several meanings. Lei (garland) and pua (flower) are often used in mele to represent the beauty and close relationship between children and their mākua (parents). Just as a mother and father care for their children like pua, the children cling to their parents like lei. The ʻōlelo noʻeau also serves as inspiration and a reminder that our children influence us just as we do them… and as they are our future, we have the kuleana (responsibility) to support and nurture our children to become a positive influence. The mele of this year’s May Day program were composed for pua of Hawaiʻi, both flowers and children alike.


Hālau Nā Pua O Kekoʻolani shares one hula during IPA's May Day celebration each year. Many of our haumāna are of the IPA community: students, parents, and grandparents. And as such, this day is a great way for our haumāna to share what they love with others of this school. As you'll see in some pictures below, we were able to gather our haumāna the day before May Day for lei making - pua melie. It was a great time for learning and bonding...


Our May Day program was held on Friday, April 28th, which according to the weather man, was supposed to be the start of stormy skies... but let me tell you, we prayed hard for those beautiful blue skies and for those rains to hold off just long enough. As the faculty and staff finished their hula at the end of the program (yes, the teachers and admin hula too!) we ran back to our places to bid mahalo, a hui hou, and sing Hawaiʻi Aloha just as the rain blew in, stronger with each verse. It was a sight to see and a "you had to be there to believe it" moment. I choked on my lyrics, trying to to let my emotions ruin the melody bellowing over the mic. But what was even more heart bursting (in a good way, of course) was the overwhelming spirit of aloha and mālama as our middle and high school students along with parents, faculty, and staff, pushed through the rains to kokua and get our outdoor event cleaned up and packed up so quickly.There are just not enough words to describe the awesomeness. Mahalo piha iā ʻoukou!


Below, you'll find a gallery of images depicting just an ounce of the loads of preparation and hard work that goes into this gorgeous family event. Here's to another amazing May Day and many more to come. 



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Kapolei, Hawaiʻi 96707

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