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Uncle George to be honored by Freemasons

Uncle George Naope.

Uncle George Naope.

Photo by Rick Ogata
Big Island kumu hula legend Uncle George Naope will be honored later his month for his efforts to perpetuate the Hawaiian art.

A co-founder and one of the first judges at the Merrie Monarch Festival, Naope will be inducted into the Lodge Le Progres, the oldest Freemason lodge in Hawaii.

The ceremony is 6-10 p.m. Dec. 20 at Iolani Barracks on the grounds of Iolani Palace. The public is invited.

Founded in 1842, the Lodge Le Progres’ members have included King David Kalakaua, known as the “Merrie Monarch” and a patron of the arts. The annual Merrie Monarch Festival is named for him.

This month’s induction recognizes Naope’s lifelong efforts to perpetuate hula through the Merrie Monarch Festival and his promotion of hula in Japan and around the world. In addition to being a world renowned kumu hula and master chanter, Naope is widely considered to be one of the world’s most knowledgeable people on the history of Hawaiian chanting and hula.

This will be Naope’s second visit to Iolani Palace in a month. He joined a performance with Palani Vaughan and King’s Own, commemorating the anniversary of Kalakaua’s birth Nov. 16. Naope led a hula from his wheelchair.

Born in 1928, Hilo native, Naope began learning hula from his grandmother at age 3 and began teaching at age 13. He has spent decades moving between Oahu and the Big Island, but his influence spread far beyond Hawaii’s shores and his flamboyant personality earned him celebrity status in Japan.

He was honored with the “Living Golden Treasure” designation by the governor and state Legislature of Hawaii in 1960, and named in the Smithsonian Institute as a “Treasure of Hawaii” by President George Bush, Sr.

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