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Pele: Goddess of Fire hero image by Hālau Ka Waikahe Lani Mālie

Pele: Goddess of Fire.

Photo/ Supplied/ Hālau Ka Waikahe Lani Mālie


Aotearoa's first official hula school debuts dance theatre production ‘Pele, Goddess of Fire’

Hālau Ka Waikahe Lani Mālie students are busy rehearsing for their first ever theatre show.

Passionate haumana (students) from New Zealand’s only sanctioned hula school are taking the new skills they’ve learned to the stage this December.

Hawai'i’s infamous mythological figure, Pele, will be brought to life by a melting pot cast of cultures, ages, occupations, and varying levels of performing arts experience.

Opened in 2010, Hālau Ka Waikahe Lani Mālie (Peacefully Heavenly Flowing Water School) at Grey Lynn’s Community Centre has welcomed a diverse range of learners drawn to the tutelage of kumu hula Aruna Kekeha Po-Ching.

“As a screenwriter, actor and dancer, it’s a beautiful way to present our end of year showcase in a tale format,” says Kekeha Po-Ching.

New Zealand born Samoan-Chinese Aruna, was given her Hawaiian name "Kekeha", meaning "to rise to the top", in 2013 by her kumu and mentor, multi-award winning hula teacher and musician Blaine Kamalani Kia. She has been advocating for hula across the globe throughout her performance career.

Over the past thirteen years of teaching at Aotearoa’s only officially sanctioned hula school, the community of hula dancers has grown steadily and with it a thirst for knowledge of Hawai'i. Kekeha Aruna teaches in New Lynn, Te Atatu and Onehunga and boasts 60-80 students of all ages and cultural backgrounds walking through the doors every year, willing to learn the traditions of the Hawaiian hula through ancient chants and modern and ancient dance.

Described as a labour of love, Kekeha Po-Ching has adapted, choreographed and directed Pele: Goddess of Fire and is excited to share the experience of hula with new audiences.

“Not only are the students learning the depth of the hula and the story in which the hula belongs, but the audience also gets the opportunity to appreciate the genealogies, customs and practices of Hawaiian culture.

Pele: Goddess of Fire is on at Te Pou Theatre in early December, to book tickets click here

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