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Do It Like a Wahine:
Hula Dancer, Naiya Kuwaye-Naehu

In this section, empowered women from around the world show us how they work to achieve their dreams and what it means to be a woman in today’s society. 

In this photo there is a Hula dancer looking to the left side and smiling.

In this week’s section, local hula dancer Naiya Kuwaye-Naehu shares with us some fascinating facts about herself. Naiya was born on the Big Island of Hawaii. She moved to O’ahu when she was just two or three years old. Naiya loves hula and has been dancing for 13 years. Besides dancing hula, some of her passions are baking and cooking. She loves baking especially during the Christmas season since it’s her favorite holiday. Naiya also has a passion for interior design and hopes to become a business owner in the future. Read on to learn more about Naiya and why she is our wahine of the week!

1. When did you start dancing hula?

Naiya: I started dancing when I was around eight years old on Oahu. We moved to Oahu  from when I was three years old, but I would always go back home to the Big Island whenever I could. Weekends, Christmas break, summer break, fall break and spring break I would be there. I basically still grew up there. I’ve been hula dancing for 13 years now.

2. What does Hula represent in your life?

Naiya: Hula represents my Hawaiian culture.  A long time ago the Hawaiians weren’t allowed to dance hula, so it’s great that we are allowed to now and we can carry it on. It truly represents a sisterhood.

3. What are the values behind hula dancing?

Naiya: Hula dancing is about telling a story. A story about a place here from the islands and sharing it with people from around the world.

In the photo there is a smiley woman wearing a flower on the left side of her head.

 

4. Is hula dance something that connects women with other women? How?

Naiya: It’s a sisterhood. So, yes definitely I would say. My hula sisters and I are really, really close. We’re like the closest friends you’ll ever meet. We’re literally like sisters. Our whole hula family is like our aunties and uncles, and kumus are like our second parents so we’re like one big family. Our kumu is our main teacher. He’s like a dad to all of us. Our Alaka'i is like our second mom. People have come up to me saying “your parents are so cool” that just shows how close we are to them. They’re just like parents, just not biological. I can trust them with anything. If I ever needed them I could just call and they would always be there and comfort me.

5. What advice would you give to your younger self?

Naiya: To always trust myself and do what I feel is right and if something is wrong, without hesitation just do what feels right for me.

6. How do you practice self-care?

Naiya: Sleep! Hahaha! But really, I just make sure to make time for myself. If I need a break, I give myself a break.

The photo shows a woman smiling and holding a gift jewelry box at the beach.

7. Which is your favorite item from our website? Why?

Naiya: The Tiare pendant because in Hawaii everybody grabs a tiare if they see one and you put it on your ear. To me, it represents women and my home.

If you would like to know Naiya’s world and learn about her Hawaiian roots, follow her Instagram Account @naiya.kn. Thank you Naiya for sharing the meaning behind hula dancing with Island by Koa Nani!



 

38 comments

Paula S.

Watching the hula dancers is very mesmerizing and beautiful! They are so graceful and it just looks so effortless!

Pamela Chambers

I absolutely love the Do It Like A Wahine section…. Reading about all these women is so inspiring!

Nicole Bell

I love watching hula dancers – so beautiful!

Paula Standley

I love watching hula dancers. So graceful and they make it look so easy!

Charlene Drake

I always loved watching hula dancers since I was a kid. As an adult I can appreciate the skill, time and effort involved in keeping a treasure cultural dance in play.

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