Marge Lehualani Hunt
Every now and then, I have the pleasure of meeting someone who has been involved, up close and personal, with many of the legendary Hawaiian Kupuna who have been instrumental in the creating and perpetuating of our Hawaiian Cultural Legacy. My pleasure is doubled when that “someone” is not Hawaiian by ethnicity but purely Hawaiian in heart and by association. Her friend Kawena once said to her “Marge, you are more Hawaiian than many people I know” which is high praise for a cowgirl who was born in LaGrande, Oregon and grew up in Spokane, WA. It is extremely high praise when the commendation was made by someone all of us consider to be one of the most knowledgeable experts on things Hawaiian. Marge’s friend and mentor, Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert were the authors of the “Hawaiian Dictionary” that most of us consider to be THE BIBLE of Hawaiian Olelo!
Our Profile guest was “hanai” by Aunty Emma Sharpe, renowned Kumu Hula from the island of Maui, at whose home she would stay on many of her trips to Maui. Another mentor and close friend was George Naope, that multi-talented “menehune” of a man who entertained thousands in his lifetime. Her Kumu Hula was “Mama” Emma Kahelelani Bishop. Other close friendships she shared were with Iolani Luahine, Irmgard Aluli, Pauline Kekahuna, Leilani Mendez, Edna Pualani Bekeart, NapuaStevens, Joseph Kahaulelio and Aunty Nona Beamer. Those familiar with our Hawaiian culture recognize that all of these names are of Kupuna (most of whom have passed on) who contributed significantly to our Hawaiian Mele and Hula Legacy! She has hundreds of stories she can tell about her beloved friends!
Her name is Marge Lehualani Williamson (Allison) Hunt who is now a vibrant eighty-seven years young! Today, she continues to spread Aloha here in the Pacific Northwest much as she has done for the past fifty plus years! Marge was born in LaGrande, Oregon where her parents owned a large ranch which they lost in the 1930’s Depression prompting a move to Spokane, WA where she grew up. Her first marriage was to a young US Air Force officer whose duty assignment to Hawaii kindled the immense passion she developed for all things Hawaiian.
Marge moved from Hawaii to Seattle in the mid-1950’s when her husband left the Air Force. She was among the very first to teach authentic Hawaiian Hula and Mele to the population in Washington State. She realized then that many of the people trying to teach Hula in this area had very limited Hula knowledge and training so she decided to organize a Hui of Hula teachers (Hui O Na Kumu Hula). Her intent was to enhance the skills of the teachers. Marge was able to persuade many of her Hawaiian friends (like Aunty Emma Sharpe, Iolani Luahine, Linda Mendez, Hoakalei Kamau`u and George Naope) to come to the Pacific NW to conduct Hula workshops. While such workshops are commonplace now, back then it was a new concept! George Naope’s workshops were so popular that his “George Naope’s Hula Festivals” (sponsored initially by Marge and her Hui O Na Kumu Hula group) were a Hawaiian cultural highlight event in the Pacific NW for many, many years.
Marge took the essence of the Hawaiian Culture that she had learned from her friends/mentors in Hawaii and passed it on to the hundreds of haumana (students) she taught to dance Hula as well as to the thousands more who watched Marge’s dancers perform. Marge returned to Hawaii every year to refresh her friendships and to learn more about the Hawaiian culture that she had come to love so much! Today, Marge has limited her Hula teaching to one haumana (Krista Espiritu of Hula O Lehualani). Marge has chosen Krista to be the one to “carry the torch/pass on the Legacy” that she inherited from her friends like Kawena Pukui, George Naope, AuntyEmma Sharpe and her Kumu Hula Mama Emma Bishop! Incidentally, Larry Kamahele (one of our Pacific NW Kupuna and one of the founders of the Wakinikona Hawaiian Club) met his wife Wanda while he was playing the music and Wanda was dancing for Marge!
Beyond being an outstanding Hula teacher, Marge is an extremely talented and accomplished artist. Initially, her love was for stone sculpting but as she has grown older, handling the heavy stones and stone carving tools had become increasingly difficult so she shifted her focus to wood carving. Her stone and wood carvings are absolutely beautiful and many have been sold for hundreds of dollars apiece! Marge continues to play her beloved Hawaiian music with a group (Ke Kani Aloha) of ukulele players that she formed in the Richmond Beach, WA area a few years ago. They meet weekly to play, dance and sing songs of Hawaii and they do public performances occasionally. For her 80th birthday, Marge traveled to Italy to carve stone and then to China“just because”! She shared her 85th birthday in Hawaii with another close friend, Aunty Genoa Keawe (their birthdays were three days apart).
Mahalo Marge Lehualani Hunt for helping to preserve and to perpetuate our Hawaiian Culture here in the Pacific Northwest! Aunty Marge……….you da Man!!!
Until next time, be kind to each other……..me ke Aloha pumehana………Danny