HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - By: Billy V
The hula world is in mourning as they learn of the passing of award-winning Kumu Hula and entertainer, Rebecca Leinaala Kalama/Paiaina Heine.
She was raised as a lei seller's daughter to Rebecca Beke Paiaina.
She attended the Kamehameha School, but graduated as a McKinley Tiger in 1958.
Her first job was a pantry girl at Woody's Restaurant down in Waikiki. She was also a clerk for car dealers. But most people would agree that her jobs as a performer for Navy Yard greeting ships at Pearl Harbor, HVB Greeter as a dancer, dancing for Bill Aliiloa Lincoln were the jobs that she would be most known for. Leinaala was also a greeter for Matson ships, President Lines, at the Honolulu International Airport.
She would teach hula at the Moana Hotel, perform at Princess Kaiulani's Malihini night, the Kupuna Show at the Moana Banyan Court and perform at luau shows at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Sheraton Waikiki, Paradise Park, Royal Hawaiian Hotel and the Waikiki Beach at the same time -- being at different hotels on different days of the week.
Aunty Leinaala studied hula under various people like Ruby Ahakuelo, Rose Maunakea, Leilani and Puanani Alama, Tom Hiona and Joseph Kahaulelio. When Aunty danced with the Hauoli Hula Maidens, that would be under the direction of Aunty Vicky Ii Rodrigues, Pauline Kekahuna and Joseph Kahaulelio.
Also it was through her association with Robert Cazimero and Wayne Chang that she would attend the Kumu Classes and she would uniki in 1973 from Aunty Maiki Aiu Lake.
Over the years, Aunty would work on so many projects: with Robert Cazimero and Wayne Chang producing Song Contest Hoike from 1975 to 1978, at Kamehameha Schools teaching Hawaiian Chant and Dance, then St. Andrew's Priory from 1986 to 2004.
One great partnership would be with Robert and Roland Cazimero -- a relationship that would go from 1976. Officially 36 years, but it's a friendship and bond that goes strong until today.
Na Pua Lei O Likolehua would begin in 1973, and they would first enter Merrie Monarch in 1976. Over the years, the girls would make their kumu proud, winning Kahiko and overall in 1977, Auana and overall in 1978, and tying for first in Auana in 1979 and Kahiko in 2006.
In 2009, Aunty would puka 13 teachers and 11 olapa that keep things going strong.
She was a pillar in the hula community, had her own foundation, continued to give back to the community and practiced Aloha Aina by continuously cleaning areas of land, replanting, helping the land and educating at the same time.
On the ohana side, she would marry Samuel Ladd Heine in 1963 and would raise four children together and also have seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
She was surrounded by her family as she left to be with her kupuna at the age of 75.