At this year’s Merrie Monarch Festival, Nani’s current halau, Manaola — formed in 2016 and named after her son — will be performing what for them will be a more modern story. It is based on the legacy of Queen Kapi‘olani (1834 – 1899) who was known for her philanthropy and deep commitment to the health, education, and well-being of the Hawaiian people in a time when huge social and cultural changes were sweeping over the islands.
“We go to Merrie Monarch to tell stories that have never been told before,” Nani says. “This year we will be telling the story of Kapi‘olani’s e orts to bring forth and preserve the Hawaiian race.”
Though the tale may be more modern than ancient, the ties to the past remains the same.
“The message is that we are connected to our kūpuna through time and space,” Nani says. “They were a special people and as dancers we must nd that connection.”
For Nani and the Lim family, the past is a family thing. Descendants of Alapa‘inui — one of the ruling chiefs of Hawai`i Island in the 1750s and uncle to Kamehameha the Great — both her father and her mother were talented musicians who would play music to entertain the family in their remote Parker Ranch home. They would also often perform at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, and as soon as they were old enough, their kids, including Sonny, Lorna, and Nani, began performing with them.
Nowadays, a third generation of the Lim- Yap family is coming of age and, following in the tradition of their forbearers, telling the sacred stories of their ancient people. Just as it should be.