Kumu hula Moana Dudoit, founder of Moana’s Hula Halau, died March 16 at Molokai General Hospital at the age of 73.
Moana’s Hula Halau became Molokai’s most well-known hula halau through Moana’s world travels. She brought the Molokai style of aloha to the mainland as well as Japan, Europe and the South Pacific. Japan, out of deep respect and love for Moana, even has its own Moana’s Hula Halau group.
Dudoit was the youngest of 19 children of Maurice and Lahela Dudoit. She was born in Moanui, on the same property where she was raised and lived her entire life.
Moana Dudoit returned to Molokai after college and ended up running Dudoit’s Bus Service. Her father had started the family business as a taxi company.
Moana’s grandniece, Zhantell Dudoit, told The Maui News just how strong the cultural traditions were in the family. Her mother was fluent in Hawaiian and as a young child Moana Dudoit began dancing, started the halau as a way to preserve Hawaiian culture through hula and music.
Moana Dudoit and sister Raquel Dudoit have been kumu hula for the halau, which began with family members and grew to include others in the community.
The youngest halau member is 5 and the oldest is nearly 90. Some have left the island for school before returning and continuing in the halau. “Once you’re a member, you’re always a member of the family and of the halau,” Zhantell Dudoit said.
Over the years, the halau competed in the Merrie Monarch Festival on the Big Island.
In 2005, Na Kupuna O Moana, made up of retired senior citizens, was recognized by the Maui County Council for winning the overall competition award and three first-place individual honors at the Hawaii Kupuna Festival.
A celebration of Moana Dudoit’s life is planned April 27 at the Mitchell Pauole Center in Kaunakakai. The event will begin with a gallery showcasing her life and the opportunity for people to record messages from 9 to 11 a.m., followed by a service from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. From 1 to 5 p.m., her halau and other entertainers will perform in a hula concert.
In addition to her sister, Dudoit is survived by 15 nieces, seven nephews, 27 grandnieces and 25 grandnephews.