Ka Moʻolelo | Our Story
Kaleinani O Ke Kukui is the longest standing hālau in the Portland-Vancouver area. Founder Deva Yamashiro, better known as “Aunty Deva” was born and raised on the island of Oʻahu. She relocated to Vancouver, Washington in 1999 where she noticed the lack of opportunities to stay connected to the Hawaiian culture. With the blessing of her Kumu Hula, Victoria Holt-Takamine, Aunty Deva opened her own hālau and began teaching hula. The hālau was given its name by Aunty Vicky and symbolizes the enlightenment hula brings to the community.
The Turning of a New Leaf
In October 2017, after a tough battle with cancer, the Vancouver and Portland communities suffered the tremendous loss of the beloved Aunty Deva. Over the years spent in the Pacific Northwest, she became a kumu, friend, sister, mother and so much more to many. After her passing, an emptiness in the island community was apparent as members anxiously wondered about the future of Kaleinani O Ke Kukui and Ke Kukui Foundation – which were left to her two sons, Kaloku and Keawe.
Despite the challenges experienced on the quest to fulfill his kuleana to continue his motherʻs hula legacy, Aunty Devaʻs eldest son, Kaloku decided to re-open Kaleinani O Ke Kukui in March 2018, just 5 months after the passing of his mother. It was his mothers message – never stop dancing hula that resonated in him and motivated him to keep things in motion.
Though the decision for his ʻohana (fiancé, Alyssa and their then 8-month old baby, Oku) to move away from their home island on Oʻahu and settle in Vancouver, Washington was a difficult one – they knew it was necessary. They both recognized the signifcant impact that the hula schoolʻs cultural teachings made in the community, especially for the keiki growing up away from the islands.
With the blessing and guidance of Aunty Vicky Holt Takamine and the support from their Hawaiʻi ʻohana, Kaloku and Alyssa built a new home for Kaleinani O Ke Kukui. Together, they were determined to continue Aunty Devaʻs work in the Pacific Northwest.
Continuing a Legacy of Aloha
Today, Kaloku and Alyssa continue to lead hālau Kaleinani O Ke Kukui as it operates in partnership with Ke Kukui Foundation. This March 2020, marks the 2nd year anniversary of its re-opening. Although the transition of leadership came with many changes, new ideas and an exciting new direction, Kaloku and Alyssa keep Aunty Devaʻs vision of aloha close to their hearts and make sure to remain on a path that would make aunty deva happy.
Always staying connected to their roots in Hawaiʻi is important for the couple as they create the most authentic cultural experience for their students. Aside from weekly classes, Kaleinani O Ke Kukui strives to provide various cultural opportunities to students year-round.
Conveniently located directly off both I-5 and I-205, Kaleinani offers hula, ʻukulele, Polynesian dane, Tahitian drumming, and Hawaiian Language classes to students from Vancouver, Portland and even Longview!
Join the Kaleinani ʻohana today. We would love to meet you!