First hula school open for business
Aucklanders are sampling a slice of Hawaii thanks to the vision of one dance teacher.
Aruna Po-Chin launched The Hula Journey - the country's first official Hawaiian hula school - at the Leys Institute Hall in St Marys Bay this week.
Po-Chin has been a professional dancer since 1998 but said she was hooked by hula while in Australia nearly a decade ago.
''I fell in love with it because it was so expressive and the movements are so unique, especially the footwork,'' she said.
''It is so empowering for women, in a spiritual sense and a graceful sense.''
Back in New Zealand she began teaching the hula in a rundown church hall in Grey Lynn under the name Pasifika Sway in 2010.
The school was officially blessed by her own hula kumu (teacher) Blaine Kamalani Kia of Oahu, Hawaii, making it the 15th school in Kia's global organisation, which extends to Japan, Tahiti and California.
Relaunched with a new logo, new website and new location, Po-Chin is giving her school a bigger profile to attract more would-be hula dancers.
''I want to perpetuate the hula and give it an identity in New Zealand,'' she said. ''It is the closest culture to Maori in the world.''
Her vision for the school is that it will be a place of holistic learning for her students, who range from children through to seniors.
''It's very important for me to remind the community culturally the values of life and what better way to do it but through song, dance and music.''