Remembering hula master Uncle George - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Remembering hula master Uncle George

HONOLULU (HAWAIINEWSNOW) - Uncle George was extraordinary not only in reviving the hula but the spirit of his people.

George Lanakilakekahiali'i Na'ope was eager to learn from his great-grandmother Malia Pukaokalani Na'ope, who taught him hula. He never did anything without consulting kupuna first.

Later Uncle George studied hula under the great Joseph 'Ilala'ole, Mama Fuji, and his most influential mentor was 'Iolani Luahine. He made sure hula kahiko was an integral part of the Merrie Monarch Festival, going as far as to teach halau himself.

He would teach them the number, teach them how to do the oli, learn the pa'i. Uncle George taught hula for over 60 years, holding his students to high standards. Uncle was very strict, but he made you do it to the point where you would want to do it to become better.

Tears may fall at the passing of Uncle George, but the memory of his flashy ensembles is enough to brighten the mood.

Just him walking down the street you saw Mr. Hawaii. He graced everybody and gave everybody something to hold onto as a Hawaiian person. To say that, I'm a kanaka maoli, I'm a Hawaiian and this is our culture that has been shared throughout the world.

Funeral services will be held today and tomorrow in Hilo.

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