Kamehameha Schools Hawai‘i students and faculty have been hard at work for the past five months, preparing for the campus’ annual Hō‘ike. On Thursday, March 13th and Friday, March 14th, that hard work will be realized as the Battle of Kuamo‘o is presented through a Hawaiian opera.
“Again, our hō‘ike is going to be completely in Hawaiian language and it’s a unique experience for anyone who watches or performs in it,” said senior Kevin Pakamiaiaea Davis, who will portray Kekuaokalani. “The hō‘ike this year will be about the Battle of Kuamo‘o.”
This year's hō‘ike dramatizes those episodes of great pitch and moment that lead to the final battle for the Kingdom of Hawai‘i. The story begins months after Kamehameha the Great's death and follows the power struggle between Kamehameha II, Liholiho, and the keeper of the war god, Kekuaokalani. After Liholiho—on the advice of Ka‘ahumanu— decides not to reinstate the ‘ai kapu, which in essence strikes down the ancient religious system, Kekuaokalani, the defender of the the ancient gods, rises up in rebellion against Liholiho. The result is the battle of Kuamo‘o, the war between the traditional and the modern. At the center of this is Manono, Kekuaokalani's wife, whose dedication and love drives her husband forward in his defense of the ancient religion. In the end both die performing the greatest sacrifice a human can for his or her culture.
“This whole hō‘ike has been written beautifully, from the original words of the script. It has so much meaning behind it. If it’s read, it takes a toll on your heart cause you see what our people endured and what they went through to get us where we are today,” said senior Joselyn Kaleimakamae Evans-Bautista, who plays Keōpūolani.
The theme of this year’s hō‘ike is “E Na‘i Wale ‘Oukou I Ku‘u Pono” (conquer for the legacy of my virtues). In addition to the plot and its cultural significance, the story possesses many dramatic events such as the love between Kekuaokalani and Manono, the abolition of the kapu system, and the battles.
“I have never seen a cast this dedicated as this cast for this opera. I’ve never seen a bunch of students work this hard with this much enthusiasm, this much diligence as I’ve seen. It’s really amazing to watch,” said Herb Mahelona, choir director and the composer of the Battle of Kuamo‘o opera.
“Everybody’s putting in their best effort. With all that hard work and all that good will, the result can only be fantastic.”
Tickets are available for $5 to the public at the Koai‘a Gymnasium two hours prior to the night’s show. Shows start at 7 p.m. For more information, call 808-982-0734.