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One year ago: George Na'ope

October 26, 2010 |  6:00 am

Na'ope To George Na'ope, hula wasn't simply a native dance. It was the cultural centerpiece of Hawaiian life and history. Na'ope, who died one year ago at age 81, was a hula master and expert in traditional chants who co-founded the Merrie Monarch Festival held annually in Hilo, Hawaii. The festival, which Na'ope and Dorothy "Auntie Dottie" Thompson organized in the early 1960s, has become world renowned for its hula competition and celebration of Hawaiian culture.

"We must remember who we are and that our culture must survive in this modern world," Na'ope said in a 2006 interview. " . . . Teach it and share it and not hide it. I tell the young people to learn the culture and learn it well, preserve it so their children and their children's children can continue with our culture and that our culture will live forever."

Less than six months after Na'ope died, Auntie Dottie died at 88. But the Merrie Monarch Festival continues. You can read more about George Na'ope in the obituary that appeared in The Times on Nov. 7, 2009.

-- Claire Noland

Photo: George Na'ope in 2005. Credit: Honolulu Advertiser