Nine years after they first stepped on stage within Edith Kanaka'ole Stadium, Oahu's Ka La 'Onohi Mai O Ha'eha'e have been crowned the overall winners of the 2017 Merrie Monarch Festival.
"I love hula, that's all I can say," said kumu Tracie Lopes. "I'm so thankful for all of the teachings that we've had from our kumu and the support that we've had from our ohana."
The halau's combined 1,168 points were the most of the 23 that competed during the 2017 festival.
Though they started competing together twelve years ago, Lopes says she has learned something new during the festival in Hilo every year.
"Every year is special, it really is. The friendships that we have with all the kumu, its beyond anything that we can imagine," she said. "Every single Merrie Monarch is special."
Kawaili'ula, under the direction of kumu Chinky Mahoe, won the top overall men's award.
The awards announcements, as they always do, capped a whirlwind week in Hilo for festival participants and spectators.
Halau o Kekuhi's Ho'ike performance opened the action at Edith Kanaka'ole Stadium on Wednesday in what turned out to be a night with global flair, featuring performances from Mexican and Filipino groups.
On Thursday, Kelina Kiyoko Ke'ano'ilehua Tiffany Eldredge's historic Miss Aloha Hula victory made it two wins in a row for Halau Hi'iakainamakalehua and kumu hula Lono Padilla and Robert Ka'upu IV.
Friday, the 29 halau that competed in this year's festival opened the group portion with Kahiko night.
For more information on the 2017 Merrie Monarch Festival, click here.
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