top of page


KHOI is grateful for the guidance and mentorship of our loea hula (hula expert)  Frank Kawaikapuokalani Hewett and daughter, kumu hula Oheloulaokalani "Ula" Hewett.  Known affectionately as Lehua, Kawaikapuokalaniʻs knowledge was gained from various sources; Aunty ʻIolani Luahine and Aunty Lani Kalama, Aunty Edith Kanakaʻole whom 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).  

Kumu Ilima Kam Martinez

Aunty Ilima has always felt a strong kuleana (responsibility) to perpetuate Hawaiian culture as a kanaka maoli (Native Hawaiian). This can be attributed to her late father (whom she lovingly calls "her first kumu"), Albert Hin Kam, who instilled this in her at an early age. She began learning Ori Tahiti & other forms of Polynesian dance in 1992, and in 2006, chose to focus and become a serious student of solely hula. It is with great honor that Aunty Ilima continues the traditions of her loea, Kawaikapuokalani and all the generations of kumu that came before her.

The hālau was gifted the inoa (name) of Kūhai Hālau O ʻIlima Pā ʻŌlapa Kahiko in the tradition of Aunty Emma DeFries, upon the ʻūniki of Aunty Ilima to kumu hula in 2022.​ Throughout her hula journey,  Aunty Ilima 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 in 2019. As an undergraduate, Aunty Ilima was fortunate to conduct collaborative fieldwork with local Native Hawaiian, Kumeyaay, and Oaxacan communities. ​

In addition to classes held at the hālau, she has served the Native Hawaiian community as the 2018 Director of Youth Enrichment and 2019 Director of Culture at Hui O Hawaiʻi of San Diego and a current member of 'Ahahui Kiwila Hawai'i O San Diego Civic Club. Aunty Ilima continues her work for the advancement of Native Hawaiian Pacific Islanders (NHPI) by educating the wider community about Hawaiian culture, as the founder and board president of UMEKE, a 501(c)(3) organization.

bottom of page