Born on Oʻahu, Pelena lived in Kaneʻohe/Kaʻaʻawa until age 7 when she and her family moved to Hawaiʻi Island.
Growing up near the ocean, Pelena spent numerous hours in the water and it was only fitting that paddling became her favorite past time.
Pelena graduated from Konawaena High and studied accounting at West Hawaii Community College before heading to a career of entertainment for the next 35 years. She has participated in numerous Merrie Monarch hula festivals and danced around the world under the direction of Kumu Hula Nani Lim-Yap and Leialoha Amina. In 2012, Pelena graduated (ʻuniki) from Hula Halau Na Lei O Kaholoku.
She lives in Kailua-Kona with her husband Chris, 3 children and 2 dogs. Pelena has volunteered at the Kona kīpuka since 2011 and started as a Community Building Facilitator in 2014.