Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Traveling Through the Islands at this Year’s Lū’au

Seattle’s rainy weather and grey skies had no effect on the annual Lū’au put on by Hui O Nani Hawai’i club. The theme Huaka’i I nā Moku or “Voyaging Through the Islands” transported attendees to the shores of all the islands in Hawai’i and to Tahiti with the dances and food that was served. Going on for over half of a century, this marks the 56th year that Luau has been at Seattle University.

Walking into Campion Ballroom, it seemed transformed. Hawaiian snacks lined the tables. Everyone participating in the event was dressed up for the occasion. Bright prints, leis around necks and lei po’os adorned the dancers, participants and even the attendees.

The night began with attendees enjoying Hawaiian cuisine for dinner as students from the Luau Band sang. Those over 21 could go down to the Beer Garden and indulge in some alcohol before the event started. Snow cones could be purchased as a treat from their shop.

Each year, Hui O Nani donates a portion of Lū’au proceeds to a charity organization that gives back to the community. This year, proceeds went to Pu’uhonua o Wai’anae, a community and transitional shelter in the Wai’anae Coastal area that acts as a place of refuge for Native Hawaiians that can’t afford to live in Hawai’i.

After dinner, the performances began. Seven choreographers worked on a dance that reflected each island. Each dance had a particular song chosen that represented a different meaning. Many of which have to do with Hawaiian gods and myths. For example, one of the dances, the Women’s Kahiko, was on a mele (song) that honors e ku’u Mō’ī (beloved king) Lunalilo and his journey aboard a ship from O’ahu to America.

A high energy dance which sent the audience into roars is the Haka. The Men’s Haka is the Kapa O Pango, which in ancient times, the Māori warriors would use the chant to intimidate their opponents and prepare themselves for the battle that was to come. The women also performed the Taka Māori Haka, that greets all with strength and determination. Highly anticipated by the audience, the haka was also followed by the haka face game, in which audience volunteers were able to compete by showing off their own haka face.

Ten months in the making, the event is Hui O Nani Hawai’i’s biggest club event.

“Our club means a lot to kids from Hawai’i, but not only that, to people in Seattle and being able to share and perpetuate our culture from home is essentially what Luau is and that’s what makes it such a great event,” said Ryan Morikawe, President of Hui O Nani Hawai’i club at Seattle U. “Everyone comes together in the comradery of Luau week and the day of, everyone just comes together and makes this event what it is.”

Pualila Kahale, a first year electrical engineering major, and a dancer at the Lū’au, was encouraged to join by her mom back home.

“The club is like a small family, because there’s many Hawai’i kids that are here so it’s really good like to get a reminder from home because we are a thousand miles away,” Kahale said.

Many family members and friends of the participants come from out of town to see this event. Those that are unable to make it can see it through the livestream. Alumni and those who have never attended Seattle U come to support this event in their home away from home.

Jason Cisneros, a University of Washington, Alumni has attended Seattle U’s Lū’au for the past four or five years and was a part of the University of Washington Hawaiian Club when he was a student there. They also put on their own Lū’au every year like Seattle U.

“We used to plan our Lū’aus on different days, so we could go and support the Seattle U one and they could come and support ours, because I mean, like we all grew up together back home,” Cisneros said. “A lot of my good friends went to Seattle U and it was like ‘yeah, we want to see your Lū’au, we want to see what you’re up to.’”

Every year, Lū’au closes off the night with the Hawai’i Aloha, which is the anthem of Hawai’i. Audience members stood up and linked hands as everyone who knew it sang along, swaying their bodies to the singing. A celebration of family, culture and home, the Lū’au is a continuing tradition at Seattle U with a legacy that will be celebrated for years to come.

Rania may be reached at
[email protected]

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