150 years in Hawaii

LAIE, Hawaii — The yearlong celebration of the sesquicentennial of the Church in Hawaii, 1850—2000, came to a memorable conclusion on Dec. 9, marked by four hours of Hawaiian music and hula. More than 1,000 people attended Hoike 2000 in the BYU-Hawaii Cannon Activities Center here to enjoy the talents of contemporary and past Hawaiian cultural arts masters.

As guests entered the building for the Hoike (meaning "to see a celebration"), they were greeted with a traditional Hawaiian welcome chant by William Kauaiwi'ulaokalani Wallace III, BYU-Hawaii director of Hawaiian Studies, and his cousin Cy Minoaka Bridges, director of Cultural Islands at the Polynesian Cultural Center, who composed the chant for the occasion. Also greeting visitors were BYU-Hawaii and community hula dancers.

A highlight on the program on this festive evening was Genoa Keawe — the matriarch of LDS Hawaiian music — who is 82 and still performs professionally. "She looks more and more beautiful every day. She looks like an angel," said Olana Ai, who introduced the program along with Ishmael Stagner II, a member of the Sesquicentennial Steering Committee. (Sister Keawe will be presented with BYU-Hawaii's Lifetime Achievement Award during commencement Dec. 16.)

During the festivities, one of the performers sang "Iä 'Oe e Ka Lä," which was written by 1851 LDS convert Kaleohano, a noted hula dance instructor and chanter, for the 1874 visit of Hawaiian King Kaläkaua and Queen Kapi'olani to Laie. LDS missionaries and Church leaders have consistently encouraged members to preserve and perpetuate the finer aspects of their respective cultures.

As with many island gatherings, the evening ended with everyone singing "Hawai'i Aloha" which, Brother Stagner explained, was originally a popular song included in the LDS hymnal. The music was generally lost over the years and most people stopped singing the song, except for LDS members of the Hanalei Kauai Branch who were overheard singing it one day and gladly shared the music from their hymnal.

To commemorate this sesquicentennial, members here have spent the past 12 months giving service to the community, hosting family history fairs, holding festivals and choir concerts, holding reunions for temple presidents, gathering for special commemorative firesides, and performing a historic pageant. The yearlong celebration began Jan. 23, 2000, when President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Kona Hawaii Temple. Please see Jan. 29, 2000, Church News for dedicatory articles.

More information on the LDS Hawaii Sesquicentennial can be found at the Website: www.ldshawaii150.org.