Spooner Spotlight: Hula Preservation Society

Posted on August 19, 2022

Spooner Spotlight: Hula Preservation Society
The Hula Preservation Society (HPS), based in Kāneʻohe on O’ahu, is committed to preserving and sharing the unique spirits, authentic voices, and historical records of elders in the hula community and making the recordings available to Hawaiian people, hula practitioners, and students around the world.

Origins of the Hula Preservation Society

Auntie Nona

The Hula Preservation Society was inspired by the late Kumu Hula Nona Kapuailohia Desha Beamer, known to many as Auntie Nona. After she retired from nearly 40 years as a classroom teacher at the Kamehameha Schools, Auntie Nona stayed active teaching and sharing with people from all walks of life who shared her love of Hawai‘i and Hawaiian culture.

Auntie Nona (left), Maile Loo (right)

One of these people was Maile Loo, a fellow graduate of the Kamehameha Schools, and the current director of the HPS. Maile originally reached out to Auntie Nona to further her training in hula.

Maile Loo (second from left)

The two spent years together at Auntie Nona's home in Puna she named Pulelehua. One day, Auntie considered the vast knowledge her hula peers must hold and wanted to go talk-story with them. In that moment, the idea of HPS was born!

Coming from a tech background, Maile suggested the conversations be recorded if possible, and so began years of sitting down with hula elders across the islands, mostly born before 1930, and preserving their stories and insights.

ʻAʻohe pau ka ʻike i ka hālau hoʻokahi
Not all knowledge rests in one hālau

Twenty-two years later, HPS has evolved into a community archive utilized by academics from around the world interested in Hawai'i, history, and hula, as well as passionate teachers and practitioners looking to further their own studies.

In addition to the archive, HPS is also home to Hale Pulelehua, a community studio named in honor of Auntie's former home. HPS welcomes hula, dance, and exercise classes to utilize the space, and several hālau currently call it home.


Glossary of Hula words:

Hālau Hula
Hālau hula is the term used for a hula school. Each school perpetuates the teachings of their Kumu and hula lineage.

Kumu Hula
A Kumu Hula is a master teacher who has been formally trained in a particular hula lineage and passes on that knowledge to their students.