Ukulele or ipu for official state instrument?

Published On: Feb 13 2014 10:56:00 PM HST

Making the ukulele the state instrument has literally struck a chord in many circles.

Click here to watch Catherine Cruz's report.

You might expect a company like Kamaka's Ukulele Factory is partial to the idea of making the "jumping flea" a state symbol. The company gave KITV4 a rare look behind the scenes at its ukulele factory.

Koa comes to life under the skilled hands of woodworkers.
"It's versatile, small; you can take it all around. Easy to play -- you can do a lot with just three chords," said Chris Kamaka of Kamaka Ukulele.

Some say instead of the Portuguese instrument, the more fitting choice might be the ipu. Across town at the Hula supply store in Kalihi, skilled workers were pouring over the gourds.

The demand is so high the company is forced to go to California to bring in what will become the prized implements of local hula dancers. There are double gourds and feather gourds with feathers from China.
But there is also the array of other hula instruments including the nose flute that often come from as far away places like the Philippines and Taiwan.

We posed the question to dancers and musicians arriving to work on the Star of Honolulu. One musician voted for the ipu.

"It was here first before the Portuguese. I think it makes more sense. It's more Hawaiian," said Musician Michael Boe.

Taylor Vidad grew up with the more traditional ipu in all her years dancing in a halau and she still uses it.
"But I play music too and mostly I play ukulele," said Vidad.

"I didn't think it would be so controversial, but as with anything, I think it's good to get everybody's input," said Kamaka.

Some say does there just have to be one official instrument? How about finding harmony with one traditional and one contemporary?

You can still weigh in on what you think should be the state instrument. The bill has cleared their first hearings and lawmakers are deciding on its fate. So send in your testimony.

Which should be the official instrument of Hawai'i -- the ukulele or the ipu?

Click here to vote in our online poll.

Read about the push for the ukulele.


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