About Puluelo Naipo Park
Alice Puluelo Naipo Park
Auntie Puluelo was born in Hōʻea and lived in Kapaʻau, Kohala, Hawai’i Island. Her earliest memories of seeing hula were with family. The tūtūs made a big impression! One in particular, Tutu MacDougal, took little Pulu under her wing and in the garden, would show her the basic hula steps and body movements. The seeds of love for hula were planted at this young age, and they continued to grow for the rest of her life.
Auntie was brought up under a strict household in Kohala. She spoke of her family’s aliʻi ways and also recalled how her German grandmother made them wash the walls ... regularly! Sadly, her immediate family left Kohala while she was still young and moved to Oʻahu, where they faced great challenges in the big city, a lifestyle so very different from the grounded, country life she knew and loved.
Auntie sought out and began formal hula lessons on Oʻahu with Katie Nakaula, a court dancer for King Kalākaua, and also Caroline Peters Tuck, who was a well-known and beloved hula teacher in Kalihi. Even as she matured, became a crane operator at Pearl Harbor shipyard, married Thomas Park, and was busy raising eight children, her love for hula continued. As an adult, she sought out Lokalia Montgomery and was a private student of this respected kumu hula, learning both kahiko and ʻauana. She went through ʻūniki (graduation) in 1952, and opened the Puamana Hula Studio, named after her eldest daughter. Auntie Pulu and her family had a beach home in Hauʻula, but she became most well-known over the years as a hula fixture in Kailua, Oʻahu.
Auntie entered the first Merrie Monarch Hula competition with five dancers and won the Implements Division. HPS had the pleasure of beginning oral history work with Auntie Pulu in 2001, and we followed her return to the prestigious festival in 2002, the 50th anniversary of her teaching career. Auntie Puluelo also nurtured generations of children at Kainalu Elementary School through the Hawaiʻi Department of Education's Kūpuna Program.
Auntie held her last ʻūniki (graudation) ceremonies in 2002 at Ke Ahu a Laka, Kēʻē, Kauaʻi, and she invited HPS to document the many facets of the process and rituals. At that time, she graduated her last two kumu, Malia Bird Helelā and Leimomi Kiyono. It was a blessing to know and work with Auntie Puluelo Naipo Park in her twilight years. She was filled with such a zest for life and love for hula that was steadfast and pure.
Pali o Ka Moa - Kaiwakiloumoku: Pacific Indigenous Institute
Beloved Dance Teacher Made Hula Accessible - Star Bulletin