Fine Arts Teacher/ Alaka’i Hula
Class of 1997
By Zena Heu
Megan Ha’amauliola Makua Aiona is a fine arts teacher at Ke Kula ‘O Nāwahīokalaniopu’u, the Hawaiian immersion school in Kea’au. The campus includes the Pūnana Leo preschool, Hi’i Pepe (child and infant program), an elementary charter school, Näwahï Iki, and the Lab school for grades 7 through 12. She teaches songs, chants and dances to over 100 students from kindergarten through grade 12 along with another co-teacher, who focuses on the music portion. As the specialist in the art of the hula, she creates and choreographs all the hula and also teaches varied Hawaiian crafts, including the making of hula instruments. She is responsible for preparing the entire student body for school and public performances.
Megan is also an Alaka’i Hula with Hälau O Ka Ua Kanilehua, under the direction of Kumu Hula, Johnny Lum Ho, where she has been a student 14 years. She teaches two hula classes to students who are between three and seven years old. Besides traveling to Japan and other neighbor islands, she and her hälau have competed in the Merrie Monarch Festival in 1995, then again in 2001, 2002 and 2003. In 2004 and 2005, the hälau performed at the Wednesday night, Hö’ike, opening show of the Festival. She says that Uncle Johnny has taught her to always be humble, to respect others, and to remember the spiritual connection that is vital to hula. A good hula dancer performs from the heart, and feelings are shown through expressions and movements. All the body senses are aware of the song, and the mana’o will encompass the dancer.
Megan prefers upbeat songs with ti-leaf skirts, but still loves a beautiful holokū and a melodious tune. Her favorite implement is the ‘ulī’ulī, preferably one that is handmade.
In hula there are different styles, perspectives and protocol, with each hälau creating its own unique style. She recently created a kāne hula for an upbeat song called Mahai’ula that speaks of a journey around the Kona/Kohala side of the island. It was lengthy, but upbeat, and she enjoyed teaching the song to her secondary male students at Nāwahī. Hula is the doorway to her great appreciation for the Hawaiian culture and language. Being in a hälau has also allowed her to build lifelong relationships with her hula sisters.
Megan started volunteering at Pūnana Leo, a Hawaiian Immersion pre-school, and at other school-related situations beginning in the 10th grade. She taught Hawaiian language at Waiākea High School for one year and then she enrolled in a teaching certificate program, Kahuawaiola, where she received her teaching certificate and license. She is currently studying for a masters in education at UH Hilo.
Megan enjoyed coming to school at Waiākea because although the school was big, there was still a connection between her class. Her class of 1997 possessed Warrior pride and her teachers were very inspiring. High school was a time to explore different avenues and to find out what her strengths were. Teaching is her passion and she enjoys working with her students at the hälau and at Näwahï. Megan feels that it is her responsibility to perpetuate her Hawaiian culture through teaching, because teachers inspire, demonstrate and educate our future generations.