"I teach humbly and with great respect for I only know what I know."
~ Pekelo Day ~
Akiko Colton spent the early parts of her life in Kumamoto, Japan. Her father was a music teacher so she grew up surrounded with music and performances. In her youth she danced and performed classical ballet.
In 1999, Akiko started working at the Polynesian Culture Center while attending Brigham Young University Hawaii where she earned a degree in Hawaiian Studies. There she learned the Hawaiian language, history, and culture including dance.
Akiko has been dancing hula since 1999. She danced with Halau Hula o Kekela in Laie, Hawaii under the direction of Kumu Kela Miller (former Alaka'i to Cy Bridges). Later, she danced for Keolalauolani Halau Olapa o Laka in Kane'ohe under Kumu Aloha Dalire. With Kumu Aloha Dalire she attended and competed in the Merrie Monarch Hula Competition in 2007 and 2008.
Akiko has been dancing with Kumu Pekelo Day since he started teaching in 2008. With Pekelo she competed in competitions in Vancouver, WA and Sacramento, CA where she took 2nd place as an individual dancer.
Akiko is currently the Alaka'i (Artistic Director) at Halau Hula o Na Pua o Hawaii Nei and teaches all classes here in Eugene.
Pekelo Day was born and raised in Ke'anae, Maui. His grandmother, Wilhelmina Kealohanui, instructed his mother, from her deathbed, to "take care and guide this grandson of mine well in the sacred dance." Pekelo's mother, Appollonia Kealohanui Day, was of full Hawaiian ancestry and tried her best to raise her children with traditional Hawaiian cultural values. She taught Pekelo and the rest of her children hula. Pekelo learned to love and embrace oli (chants) and hula kahiko (ancient hula).
Pekelo learned hula and oli from many different kumu hula including Kumu Auntie Emma, Haunani Kauahi Judd and Sam Naeole on the island of O'ahu and Edith Kanaka'ole and George Na'ope on the island of Hawaii.
Pekelo loved to share the Hawaiian culture and his knowledge. In 1973, at the age of 13, Pekelo won first place in the oli division at the King Kamehameha Day Competition on O'ahu, and was recognized as the youngest instructor in the state. Pekelo attended Lahainaluna High School from 1974 to 1978 and continued teaching traditional dances of Hawaii. In 1979, he established Hula Halau o Ka La and started teaching hula kahiko to those who were eager to learn from him. Among those students were Keali'i Reichel and Uluwehi Guerrero, who are now both well known kumu hula and Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning musicians in Maui.
In 1979, Pekelo moved from Maui to the Big Island and created a few halau there. He took his hula dancers to the Merrie Monarch Festival Hula Competition in Hilo. He stayed in the Ka'u district for many years. In 1995, he started a non-profit organization, He Kula Na Mea Hawai'i, to perpetuate and preserve hula and the Hawaiian culture. Through this organization, Pekelo shares not only hula and oli skills, but also skills such as lei and implement making and na mea Hawaii (things Hawaiian).
Pekelo moved to Oregon in 2008 and soon opened Halau Hula o Na Pua o Hawaii Nei in Eugene. In 2013 he moved back to Hawaii and is enjoying a more relaxed life. He currently returns to Eugene to power teach and provide direction to the students and Akiko, his Alaka'i.