Malia Ann Kawailanamalie Petersen won the Miss Aloha Hula solo title last night as the Merrie Monarch Festival hula competition got under way in Hilo's Edith Kanaka'ole Stadium.
She is the student of kumu hula Paleka Mattos and represented her Kalihi-based school, Hula Halau O Kamuela. Her chant, "Maika'i Kawaikini I Ka Wao," honors the beauty of Queen Emma ('Emalani) by comparing the beauty of the forest to the beloved queen.
Petersen also won the Hawaiian language award. Runners-up for Miss Aloha Hula were, in order, Kasie Kaleohano, Shelsea Ai, Malia Stender and Mino'aka Demesillo.