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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, November 14, 2003

Another prized 'ukulele stolen as thieves strike again in Kaimuki

By Peter Boylan
Advertiser Staff Writer

A prominent kumu hula is the latest victim of 'ukulele theft on the same Kaimuki street where another valued 'ukulele was stolen last weekend.

Thieves made off with a 50-year-old Martin 'ukulele from Puanani Alama's hula studio, at 9th Avenue and Wai'alae Street. Alama's relatives have called local shops and discovered that the 'ukulele was worth almost $2,000.

Last weekend, a signature baritone 'ukulele, valued at $5,000, was stolen from entertainer Kahauanu Lake's studio in the Jade Building on 9th Avenue. The 'ukulele was returned to Lake on Wednesday.

Alama's niece, TeMoana Makolo, discovered the break-in early this morning and reported it to police.

Makolo said someone climbed through a window on the side of her aunt's building and tore up her studio. She said the office was ransacked by someone seeking valuables.

She said a large pahu drum, a Kamaka 'ukulele, and Alama's CD collection were found strewn about in the hallway outside the studio.

"The thing is, my aunt doesn't even know about it. She's away on the Mainland, and we don't want to upset her, so we'll tell her when she comes home," Makolo said.

Alama, 73, has health problems, Makolo said.

From Aug. 1 through Nov. 3, burglary/theft investigators from the Honolulu Police Department's East Honolulu District, where Alama's studio is, received nine reports of stolen 'ukulele.

Six of the 'ukulele were taken in home burglaries, two from vehicles, and another was shoplifted, police said.

Makolo said she and her family are concerned about the 'ukulele's sentimental value, not its monetary worth.

During the 1940s, '50s and '60s, Alama and her sister Leilani performed with Genoa Keawe. The Alama sisters handled the hula, and Keawe played the music, Makolo said.

It was the very first 'ukulele Alama used to teach hula, Makolo said.

"We know Uncle Kahauanu got his back," Makolo said. "We're hoping we get ours back."

Advertiser Staff Writer Rod Ohira contributed to this report. Reach Peter Boylan at 535-8110 or pboylan@honoluluadvertiser.com.