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Dancers Surprise Hikers In Hawaii With Emotional Ritual At Sunrise

"The bystanders were amazed and confused but were silent after the haka was done."
Dancers performed a haka ritual dance at the top of the Lanikai Pillboxes hiking trail
Dancers performed a haka ritual dance at the top of the Lanikai Pillboxes hiking trail

Hikers who climbed up Hawaii's popular Lanikai Pillbox Trail on Saturday to watch the serene sunrise were met with something much more intense: A group of Polynesian dancers performing a powerful haka.

Gee Tuitele-Martin, Jacksmith Tanuvasa and Iosua Manumā did the haka -- an ancient Maori war dance often performed in modern times to honor a person or express collective emotion -- to commemorate their former dance teacher, Val Jeremiah, who recently passed away.

They gathered on the concrete fort at the top of the trail, which overlooks Oahu's eastern shore, to "bring in the new sun by having a spiritual haka," Johnny Lasalo, who filmed the video, told The Huffington Post.

"It felt great and really shook everyone who could hear us," Lasalo said. "The bystanders were amazed and confused but were silent after the haka was done. No one made a sound and everyone just sat there for about five [minutes] enjoying the silence," he added. 

"Welcome the sun," Lasalo wrote in the video's caption.
"The reset button to clear our minds on this Saturday morning."

Lasalo and the three dancers in the video used to perform on The Star of Honolulu cruise ship, which is where they met their cast dance instructor, whom they affectionately called "Aunty." The haka they performed was written by Aunty Val and her family.

"Performing this specific haka is humbling," said Tuitele-Martin, one of the dancers in the video. "Aunty Val's [maiden] name, which is Ratapu ... translates to 'Sunday' or 'Sacred Sun,'" in Maori. 

"To do this haka at sunrise was only appropriate to remember Aunty Val."

We wholeheartedly agree. 

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