Aloha ‘oe, ‘Anake ‘Ilei

I heard this morning about the passing of a Hawaiian cultural treasure, ‘Ilei Beniamina. She left much too soon – she was only 55 years old.  I don’t know a lot about her – she was a native Ni’ihauan, composer, and tireless educator – but I did have the honor of meeting her a couple of times over the years.  She wrote one of my favorite Hawaiian songs, Pua ‘Ala Aumoe for which she won a Na Hokuhanohano award in 1987. Around that time, I had the privilege of attending a weekend-long haku mele workshop in Hana at which ‘Anake ‘Ilei shared the deep kauna of that song. Being in the presence of  incredible Hawaiian poets like her is one of the best memories I have of my life on Maui. She will be missed. Her beautiful words and works live on.