On Aug. 3, the Waimea chapter of Ahahui Ka’ahumanu will hold a fundraiser, “The Ladies of Aloha,” at Kahilu Theatre. Three talented entertainers — Darlene Ahuna, Ku’uipo Kumukahi and Karen Keawehawai’i — will come together in concert to support the women who provide official representation at royal ali’i events.
Proceeds from the benefit concert will help the membership of the royal society, as well as to keep the organization going, said Pat Lewi, president of the Waimea Chapter.
All three performers have won numerous awards and are multiple Na Hoku Hanohano Award winners — each with distinctive contributions to the stage of Hawaiian music, perpetuating both artistry and excellence.
The 60-plus members of the Chapter II, Waimea, are of Hawaiian descent and carry on the traditions of the ali’i society. The founder, Princess Victoria Kamamalu, created the society in 1864 and named it after Queen Ka’ahumanu. But after only two years, Princess Kamamalu died and the society was disbanded.
It was Lucy Kahiehiemalie Peabody who resurrected the society in Honolulu in 1905. Her young cousin whom she raised, Lucy Henriques, was one of the founding charter members. Both Lucys spent time in Waimea and it was in 1907 that Chapter II, the Waimea, South Kohala chapter was formed, encompassing the areas of Waimea, Waikoloa and Kawaihae.
There are now more than 500 members in nine chapters throughout the Hawaiian Islands. The membership listing over the years features many prominent Waimea family names, and the women participate in fundraisers, dedications and cultural gatherings. Being participants in the lei draping ceremony at the King Kamehameha statue in Kapa’au has been an important annual event for the society.
“Each year our chapter continues to promote Hawaiian culture by taking part in the Big Island Festivals Parade and Ho’olaulea,” Lewi said. “We also hold classes in lei hulu making, lauhala craft, visit Hawaiian cultural exhibits, teach hula lessons and sing.”
The official dress for women of Ahahui Ka’ahumanu is an all-black muumuu, holoku or holomuu that is ankle length or longer. A lei hulu of ilima colored feathers is worn around the neck, and black hats, gloves and shoes give the group uniformity.
“These are symbols of Ka’ahumanu,” Lewi said. “The lei hulu is a sign of royalty of which we emulate.”
Quarterly meetings are held, and society members volunteer at North Hawaii Community Hospital and help with health needs of members. They sew prayer blankets for the sick and visit patients at Hale Ho’ola in Honoka’a.
“My grandmother and mother were members,” said Leonetta Mills, a present member who believes in the values of the organization. “I feel proud that I can be a part of this organization.”
Admission to the Ladies of Aloha Concert is $35 per person, and starts at 2 p.m. on Aug. 3. For more information, call 885-6868 or visit www.kahilutheatre.org.