KHOI is grateful for the mentorship of our loea hula Frank Kawaikapuokalani Hewett and daughter, kumu hula Oheloulaokalani "Ula" Hewett. 

Known affectionately as Lehua, Kawaikapuokalaniʻs knowledge was gained from various sources; Aunty ʻIolani Luahine, Aunty Edith Kanakaʻole who taught him language and poetry, and Aunty Emma DeFries whom taught Lehua hula and healing traditions. It was with Aunty Emma that he formally graduated to kumu hula through ʻūniki ceremony. In addition to being a hula master, Lehua is also a renowned haku mele (song composer) and kahuna (healer).

It is through Lehua and Ula's continued guidance that we have the privilege of passing on lineage traditions to our own haumāna.


Photo courtesy of John Bryant


Founder and director of KHOI, Aunty Ilima has always felt a strong kuleana to perpetuate Hawaiian culture as a kanaka maoli (Native Hawaiian). She began Polynesian dancing in 1992, and in 2006, chose to focus and become a serious student of solely hula. Throughout her hula journey,  she additionally credits  Aunty Ida and Uncle Siaosi Veimau, and Aunty Sissy Kaio for shaping her into the hula practitioner she has become today.

Aunty Ilima's yearning to learn more about indigenous cultural revitalization prompted her to return to higher education, and earn a degree in indigenous anthropology from California State University San Marcos. As an undergraduate, Aunty Ilima was fortunate to conduct collaborative fieldwork with local Native Hawaiian, Kumeyaay, and Oaxacan communities.

In addition to regular classes held at the hālau, has served the Native Hawaiian community, she was the 2018 Director of Youth Enrichment and 2019 Director of Culture at Hui O Hawaiʻi of San Diego and an active current member of 'Ahahui Kiwila Hawai'i O San Diego civic club.