Kumu Jack McKeague


'How did I become a Kumu?' When I first started taking Hula back in 1977 my intention was not to become a Kumu myself but rather to learn about our culture through Hula. I loved listening to the singing and chanting of the mele's as I was surrounded by it from the family. In 1975, while attending Kapi'olani Community college I saw a performance by Hawai'i's most influential component of the Hula, Aunty Iolani Luahine or Aunty I'o. I remembered being so move by her performance. It was then that I decided that I wanted to make Hula a part of my life. It took me 2 years of procrastinating but as they say, nothing happens by chance. I was 21 years old back then and would have never dreamed I would be a Kumu someday. I consider myself very blessed to have been given the opportunity to teach people of all ages and from all different back grounds the gifts that were freely given to me by Na Kupuna. I thank God most of all for allowing me to be the person he meant me to be. I received my diploma of Hula art in the basic's of Hula Kahiko and Hula Auana from Maikahikinapamaikala Tenn (Pamai) on the 18th of December, 1981. The day before my 26th birthday. The following year, (1982) I was ask to teach the retiree's of the Hotel Workers Union, Local 5 which I was a member, being employed at the Ala Moana Hotel at the time. I guess that's when it first started of course with Pamai's blessings. He has been my closest and most trusted adviser all these years and I'm so thankful our paths crossed. It was through Uncle Henry Pa's neice Kathy Wong-Leong that I was introduced to Hula back in 1977. She was dating my best friend whom she later married. I was the best man at their wedding. She encouraged me to join their Halau because her Uncle was the Kumu. Although Uncle Henry Pa was still Kumu of the Halau (Ka Pa Hula Manu) when I first started back in 1977, I never really took any lessons from him as he was hardly at Halau because of his illness. I believe he passed away soon after I joined. So Pamai was actually my first Kumu Hula and he has been my closet adviser till this day, over 43 years. His teachings were also strongly influenced by Hula Master Rose Joshua, legendary composer Maddy Lam and Ho'oponopono expert, Mornah Simeona. They would come by to assist Pamai. I'm guessing to ensure that the transition from Hula Master Henry Pa to Pamai was a smooth one as they were all close associates of Uncle Henry, especially Aunty Rose Joshua. But that was the wish that Uncle Henry had conveyed to the family. That Pamai, being his Alaka'i or assistant would take his place after he Ua Hala. Many of them that left started their own Halau later. I think that was one of the reasons why I stayed with Pamai all these years. Not because I felt sorry for Pamai but because I strongly believed in loyalty. The loyalty to the Halau and its predecessor. To this day I carry that same sentiment with my Halau.