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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, October 17, 2002

Bernard Kimitete, coach, canoe builder, dead at 62

By Hugh Clark
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

KAILUA, Kona, Hawai'i — Sportsman, Polynesian entertainer and canoe builder Bernard Pierre "Papa" Kimitete of Kona died Oct. 5 following a stroke. He was 62.

Kimitete was born Sept. 25, 1940, in Hatiheu in the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia and raised in Pape'ete, Tahiti. He was recruited by the Polynesian Cultural Center in La'ie to establish a Tahitian village at the O'ahu tourist attraction, and in 1970 took a job as a wood carver at the Kona Village Resort, where he worked for six years. He also was a lead drummer for the Tavana Polynesian Review on the Big Island.

Kimitete, a former boxer, built racing canoes for clubs in Kona, Maui and O'ahu and started the soccer program at Konawaena High School in Kealakekua. He also founded Kai E Hitu Canoe Club and served as president.

"He was a great carver. He could make almost anything. But his greatest skill was in coaching canoe teams and soccer," said Fred Duerr, manager of the Kona Village Resort for 35 years. "Sports and the Polynesian culture — that's what he was."

Though he lived in Hawai'i for more than three decades, Kimitete never forgot his Tahitian roots. Each summer the family would gather for a reunion in Pape'ete, said daughter Puamaile Kimitete.

Visitation will be from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Monday at St. Michael's Catholic Church on Ali'i Drive, with a service at 8 p.m. Visitation will continue at 8 a.m. Tuesday at the church, with a funeral Mass at 10 a.m., followed by a procession to Kailua Pier led by members of Kai E Hitu Canoe Club. Cremation will follow. The family requests casual attire and no flowers. Arrangements are being handled by the Kona branch of Dodo Mortuary.

Kimitete is survived by his wife, Augustine; sons, Robert and Richard of Kailua, Kona, and Joseph of Tahiti; daughters, Healani Ah Mow of Waikoloa and Puamaile of Kailua, Kona; father, Joseph of Pape'ete; brother, Michel, and sister, Louise Smith-Kimitete, all of Tahiti; 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.