To help slow the spread of coronavirus, kumu hula agree to a COVID-19 kapu

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Updated: Aug. 21, 2020 at 5:09 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A group of kumu hula have agreed to a kapu to stem the spread of COVID-19, especially among Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians.

“A kapu is a code of behavior to maintain balance, how we should or should not act,” said Hokulani Holt-Padilla of the hula halau Pa’u O Hi’iaka.

She was one of the kumu hula who took part in a virtual news conference announcing the kapu.

According to new figures from the state Department of Health, Pacific Islanders made up 31% of coronavirus cases in Hawaii. Native Hawaiians are the fourth largest ethnic group, with 13% of cases.

“We want it to flatten the curve, that we want it to build our mauli ola, our wellbeing, as people of Hawaii, because we’re all responsible,” said Kumu Hula Snowbird Bento, of Ka Pa Hula O Ka Lei Lehua.

This kapu is based on Hawaiian tradition on several levels, but focuses on the relationship and hierarchy between kumu hula and their haumana, or students.

“Kumu hula are very good at organization, very good at discipline, very good at teaching and educating their students,” said Keano Kaupu, one of the kumu hula of Halau Hi’iakainamakalehua.

The kapu requirements are similar to what government and health officials have already been saying, including staying home, limiting gatherings and in-person instruction, wearing masks or face coverings, and eating healthy foods.

But it also includes a pule, or prayer, every day at noon.

“What we can focus on is ourselves and regulating ourselves,” said Kumu Hula Mehanaokala Hind, one of the organizers of the effort. “We don’t need to hear from the mayor that we shouldn’t have large gatherings.”

Hind also said that a pule was being composed specifically for the fight against COVID.

Kumu hula will still be able to teach online using Zoom, Facebook Live and other apps, a practice that has already been widepread in the hula community.

The kapu began on Aug. 16 and continues through Sept. 14.

“The health and well-being of the kanaka and aina is what we are striving for,” said Holt-Padilla.

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