Six honored this year as Living Treasures
By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser East Honolulu Writer
By Suzanne Roig
A Hawaiian conservationist, an Iwakuni singer, an expert on native ways, an old-style fisherman, a doctor and an artist are the Living Treasures designated for 2006 by the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawai'i.
The Buddhist mission each year recognizes individuals from the general community who contribute to preserving the culture of Hawai'i. The honorees for 2006 are Uncle Eddie Ka'anana, James Kunichika, Richard Paglinawan, Uncle Walter Paulo, Dr. Terry Shintani and Carol Yotsuda.
"This year the honorees are strong in the Hawaiian culture," said Margaret Oda, Living Treasures Committee chairwoman at the mission. "We're quite impressed by the current recommendations. Many have volunteered without any formal recognition. They they do it because they want to share."
Oda said the honorees over the past 30 years have been chosen because they demonstrated continuous growth and learning in their particular field; made significant contributions toward a more humanitarian society; and strive toward excellence.
Shintani is the founder of the Integrative Medicine Center at the Wai'anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, and is credited with being instrumental in legalizing native Hawaiian healing practices.
Now with the Hawaii Health Foundation, Shintani is working to reduce the cost of healthcare, using pre-Western diet traditions and cultural values to combat obesity.
In choosing Shintani, the mission said he is determined to "conquer Hawai'i's health problems, one meal at a time."
In 2004 Shintani received the Integrative Medicine Award from the Hawai'i Wellness Institute, and in 1999 he was named a distinguished alumnus of the University of Hawai'i-Manoa. In 1993, he received the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services' Award for Excellence, recognizing his promotion of health in the community.
"It is a real humbling experience," the 54-year-old Shintani said of being designated a Living Treasure. "Most of these people who are this year's honorees have spent many more years in their careers than me. I have spent my career serving the community and to uplift Hawai'i's status as a healthy place."
He shares his mastery of lua, an ancient Hawaiian martial art, in classes, in lectures at the Bishop Museum and in books, all of which have helped regenerate an emphasis on cultural values, self-esteem and spiritual balance. He also is credited with expanding conservation and preservation efforts throughout the state.
Paglinawan conducts workshops on ho'oponopono — conflict resolution in the traditional Hawaiian way — and founded the biannual meeting for cultural exchange between Hawai'i and the Pacific peoples of Raiatea, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), the Cook Islands and Aotearoa (New Zealand). He co-established postgraduate studies at the Hawaiian Learning Center at the UH School of Social Work.
In 2004, he was recognized nationally for Outstanding Leadership in Education for Asian and Pacific Islanders.
"Ever since I started in social work, in 1962, I've been very active in volunteering and lecturing, and educating on Hawaiian cultural practices," said the 69-year-old Paglinawan.
"I was very surprised to be nominated by the students who are now instructors in lua. ... It once was considered a dying art. And now it isn't, because of the teachings I and others have continued to do."
The 91-year-old Kaua'i-born Kunichika is considered a master artist, winning a grant from the State Foundation for Culture and the Arts to train an apprentice, Ralston Nagata, in the lilting Iwakuni tradition of Japanese song.
Kunichika is recognized for his contributions to the community and lifelong efforts to preserve Japanese culture in Hawai'i. He is a founding member of the O'ahu-based Iwakuni Odori Aiko Kai bon dance group.
"He is very committed to the bon dance," said his daughter Caroline Miyata.
"He's been singing like this since he was in his late teens. He's self-taught and has perfected his own style over the years."
He co-developed the Miloli'i-Ho'opuloa 'Ahahui, an organization that promotes events for children.
He also helped conduct oceanographic research for the National Marine Fisheries Service.
"I never went to high school," said Paulo. "I went all over the South Pacific, teaching about longline fishing. It's all I know how to do. I have no trade. So I volunteer. I always try to help someone if I can. That's my philosophy — and to be honest."
The 79-year-old Ka'anana has served as an expert adviser on subsistence and commercial fishing, and has focused on preserving the art and practice of traditional 'opelu fishing. He is fluent in Hawaiian, working with students at UH, and is the kupuna at 'Anuenue School, a Hawaiian immersion school in Palolo Valley.
He has served as an adviser at the Bishop Museum, the UH Department of Hawaiian Studies, the lo'i kalo at Kanewai, the Opinapa'a Na Hui Kalo Statewide Taro Farmer's Association, and kumu hula Mapuana de Silva's Halau Mohala 'Ilima.
"I feel very honored to be selected," Ka'anana said of being named a Living Treasure. "There are so many of us out there sharing what we know, and many of them don't get recognized. It's fortunate for me that I have been mentioned and approved and named as a Living Treasure — honored for doing the things I know."
She was named the 2004 Peacemaker of the Year from the Kaua'i Peace Project, and was the recipient of the 2004 Maile Award for Outstanding Culture Service.
Mostly, she's known for her mixed-media murals at Ala Moana Center, the Kaua'i Hilton and Lihu'e Airport. She also has done several pieces for schools, including a 5-by-32-foot Venetian glass mosaic at 'Ele'ele Elementary School.
The 65-year-old Yotsuda said she has been active in Hawai'i's art community since the 1970s. During the past couple of years, she's spent most of her time promoting art and artists through the arts council.
Being named a Living Treasure took Yotsuda by surprise. "When I look at those who came before me, I question what I'm doing here and wonder even if I deserve the recognition," she said.
Reach Suzanne Roig at email@example.com.