About George Holokai

George Ainsley Kananiokeakua Holokai

Uncle George was born and raised in Honolulu on the island of Oʻahu.  His primary kumu hula was Thomas Kaulaheaonamoku Hiona (1915-1968) whose studio was near where his family lived.  As Uncle George shared, “Tommy” told him that one day he would be gone, and Uncle would have to take over the studio.  Sure enough it happened just as his teacher said, and while young George was nervous and didn’t feel ready, he had his mother Alice’s support, and his Kumu’s belief in his abilities and skills.

During the time when Uncle was still studying with Tommy, Kumu Lillian Kaleiopaoa Makaena (1886-1953) came into his life.  She and her husband both had a dream about a young man who was to be her protégé.  They did not know his name or who he was, but they patiently looked for and eventually found him!  It was a young George Holokai, and he was performing in Waikīkī where he shared his distinctive voice and immense talent through both ancient and modern hula.  Uncle George went on to be trained in chant and dance from “Mama” who shared her deep knowledge, and mentored him in the early years of his career, before her passing in 1953.

Uncle George established his own hula studio in 1952, and over his long career was a skilled chanter for the Aloha Week Court, a beloved instructor through the City and County Parks and Recreation Department, and a regular judge at hula competitions both in Hawaiʻi and beyond our shores.  He found great delight in his twilight years, passing on his repertoire to a loosely-formed hui called “E Hula Mai ʻOe,” comprised mostly of “younger” Kumu Hula who wanted to learn Uncle’s hula stylings.  The ultimate gift they received, though, was the time spent with this revered kupuna who gave from the heart.


External Resources
Hula Recollections of George Holokai - Huapala.org

Hula: A Panel Discussion - Kaiwakiloumoku: Pacific Indigenous Institute

Referenced Content