Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Contributing Editor
Less than 24 hours after the death of Dottie Thompson, the Big Island lost yet another hula standout in kumu hula Rae Kahiki Fonseca, aka Ray Fonseca. He was 56.
News of his sudden death first traveled across the Big Island and through hula circles Saturday afternoon. Fonseca reportedly collased following a performance at the Lei O Lanikuhonua Hula Festival at Ko Olina and was pronounced dead at an area hospital. It is believed he had a heart attack.
With his Halau Hula O Kahikilaulani of Hilo, Fonseca was a perennial front runner at the Merrie Monarch Festival for the last three decades, winning numerous awards. Just last year, the wahine of Halau Hula O Kahikilaulani took second place in wahine kahiko and third in wahine overall.
The halau is scheduled to participate in next month’s 47th annual Merrie Monarch Festival.
In 1980, he established Halau Hula O Kahikilaulani. He was given the name Kahikilaulani by his own kumu hula, the late hula master and festival founder George Naope.
“Laulani” was added to his hawaiian name “Kahiki.” In essence, “Kahikilaulani” (the staff of heaven) soon became “Halau Hula O Kahikilaulani”.
Fonseca will be best remembered for his dedicating his life to living and preserving the Hawaiian culture.
Halau Hula O Kahikilaulani appeared at a concert with Cyril Pahinui and the Kaimu Sons at Palace Theatre in Hilo about six weeks ago.
Services for kumu Rae Fonseca will be held 1-3 p.m, Friday (April 16) at Sangha Hall in Hilo.