We remember fondly those who have passed on...
Aunty Clarice Nuhi
Kumu Hula Clarice Wahineali΄i Nuhi, daughter of John Ka΄anohi Nuhi and Rose Pi΄ilani Ka΄uhane La΄anui, was born on August 23, 1943 in Hilo, Hawai΄i. Raised in Keaukaha, she attended Keaukaha Elementary School and Hilo High School. In 1959, her family moved to California, and in 1961, she graduated from Banning High School in Wilmington.
Auntie Clarice's lifetime devotion to hula was one inherited from her mother, Rose Pi΄ilani La΄anui Nuhi, and hers before her, Rose Ka΄imi La΄anui. After her mother's passing in 1969, Auntie Clarice embraced the kuleana of continuing the hula legacy passed to her. Thus began her lifelong dedication to teaching and sharing Hawaiian culture to all who would come to know her.
Her mother's renowned style of dancing was soft and graceful, and Auntie Clarice embodied thestyle that graced all who encountered it.
Auntie Clarice was a foundation in the Hawaiian community in southernCalifornia. She served in many capacities to numerous organizations: the Hawai΄i Daughters Guild, Lei Hulu of California, Hawaiian Inter-Club Council of Southern California, Hawaiian Community Center Association, Ainahau o Kaleponi Hawaiian Civic Club, Kama΄āina Club of Orange County, and the Hui o Hawai΄i of San Diego. Among all of these organizations, she shared her knowledge of
hula and Hawaiian culture generously. She directed productions at the Alondra Park Ho΄olaule΄a, the Long Beach Aquarium, Knott's Berry Farm, the Japan American Theater, the Japanese American Community and Cultural Center, and the Getty Museum. As her reputation and stature grew, she was invited to teach hula and conduct workshops in Hawai΄i, Alaska, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Utah.
After many decades of sharing her knowledge and traditions in the community, it was in 1996 that she took the momentous step of establishing her own hālau, Hālau Ka Pā Hula o Wahineali΄i. In 2002, her first and only hō΄ike, "E Pili Kāua" was presented as a tribute to her mother — "Together, We Two." She also became kumu hula to Ka Lama Mohala in Utah, and
traveled there regularly to conduct classes.
In 1997, Auntie Clarice acted upon one of her most cherished visions, that of bringing kumu hula together in dialogue. With the assistance of the Hawaiian Community Center Association, and a grant from the Fund for Folk Culture, Auntie Clarice organized a gathering of kumu hula from
throughout southern California. Meeting on November 29, 1997, representatives from twelve hālau met to discuss challenges in teaching, performing, and perpetuating hula in southern California, and ways those challenges might be addressed. The forum was closed to the general Pūnāwai Website Outline 2009 01 public, allowing the kumu hula a time and space to exchange fruitful discussions among themselves. Out of this gathering came the founding of Kūlia i ka Pūnāwai (Kumu Hula Association of Southern California).
"Pūnāwai," the name fondly used by members, means "wellspring." Just as springs bring forth water from the earth that sustains life, so do kumu hula, in their kuleana as keepers of culture, serve as wellsprings of tradition to their haumana and communities. Kūlia i ka Pūnāwai has become that for members, a wellspring of nurturing, networking, and collaboration. Over time, the trust built among nā kumu hula has flowered into numerous opportunities for hālau to come together in workshops, performances, and sharing. The concert presentations, "He Inoa No Kalākaua" in 2004 and "He Lei No Kapi΄olani" in 2006, represent pinnacles of collaboration among nā kumu hula on a scale that is truly unprecedented in the hula world. Throughout the years of dialogue and growth, Auntie Clarice would marvel at seeing her dream in action—of kumu hula sitting together, working together, and bringing new visions of Hawaiian culture and history through hula to our haumana, our families, and our communities.
Auntie Clarice was the punawai from which the association flowed forth. We were blessed by the grace of her presence, and we are deeply saddened by her departure from this life on March 13, 2006. It is now time for us, the members of Kūlia i ka Pūnāwai, to embrace the kuleana of caring for the wellspring passed to us. And as long as the spring of knowledge and love for hula flows, Auntie Clarice will always be with us.
. . . i mohala ka ΄ikena o ka hula, Aloha.