Willamette celebrates Hawaiian culture through 25th annual lu'au

by University Communications,

Food, fire and fun await those who attend the 25th annual Lu’au April 26 at Willamette University.

“We put on the Lu’au every year as a way for us to spread the Hawaiian culture with our community,” says Deanna Choy ’15, one of the event organizers. “For us, it’s a taste of home and gives us a chance to share our love for Hawai'i with others.”

This student-led event brings together people from around Oregon to celebrate the rich history of Hawaiʻi and other Polynesian islands. Doors open and dinner is served at 5:30 p.m. in Cone Field House at Sparks Athletic Center, followed by the show beginning at 7 p.m.

Traditionally, Lu’au is a feast where locals gather to eat and tell stories, Choy says. Willamette’s Lu’au, hosted by the Hawaiʻi Club, showcases traditional and contemporary dances taught by student choreographers and local Hawaiian food cooked by Willamette students.

Hawaiian snacks and souvenirs will be sold, while Tolo Tuitele, a fire and knife dancer, will perform. Seventy student dancers and local band, Koral Jam, will also provide entertainment. More than 50 students helped to organize the celebration.

In addition, a short video created by Matt Tonokawa ’15, titled “Ho'okahi I ko Kakou Home Aloha,” the theme of this year’s Lu’au, will be shown. The video is a collection of interviews that shows how Lu’au unites everyone and emulates the Hawaiian culture.

After working for four months on the event, Choy says she’s looking forward to everything coming together.

“Lu’au attempts to showcase the Hawaiian culture in a very respectful yet entertaining way for audience members,” Choy says. “We have a rich and deep culture that goes back thousands of years. I hope the audience will leave Lu’au with an idea of what Hawaiʻi means to us.”

The committee wanted to make this year’s Lu’au special. As a result, they hired Keola Beamer, a local slack key guitarist from Hawaiʻi, to put on a free concert April 23 at 8 p.m. in Hudson Hall.

“There are a lot of Hawaiian students on campus, and having Lu’au brings Hawaiʻi to Oregon,” Choy says. “Lu’au is important because it gives me a chance to share my culture with others. Not many people are Native Hawaiian, so being a part of Lu’au makes me proud of who I am.”


Tickets for Willamette students and faculty are $5, general-admission show tickets are $10, and Willamette-member tickets for the dinner and show costs $10. General admission tickets for the dinner and show are $15.

Tickets may be purchased by Willamette community members Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. until April 18 in the UC and from 5 to 7 p.m. in Goudy until the event. They are also sold online for the general public. Visit the Lu’au website for more information.

• Article by Natalie Pate ’15, politics and French/Francophone studies major