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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, July 29, 2006

HTA honors cultural leaders

By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Staff Writer

Herb Kane

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Mau Piailug

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'Anakala Edward Todoc Ka'anana

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R. Dwayne Steele

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Artist-historian and author Herb Kane, Pacific navigator Mau Piailug, the late revered kupuna 'Anakala Edward Todoc Ka'anana and the late philanthropist and businessman R. Dwayne "Nakila" Steele were among those honored yesterday at the Hawai'i Tourism Authority's annual "Keep It Hawai'i" awards event.

The awards program is part of the HTA's efforts to promote and preserve Hawaiian culture. The authority is spending nearly $2 million this year on Hawaiian cultural programs and has also recently hired a Hawaiian cultural coordinator.

Rex Johnson, president and CEO of the Hawai'i Tourism Authority, spoke of "the increasing importance of the Hawaiian culture and community in maintaining Hawai'i's uniqueness as a destination."

"The Keep it Hawai'i Recognition Awards honor those who have demonstrated commitment to honor and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture and community, providing visitors and residents with opportunities to experience the true culture through creative and responsible efforts," Johnson said.

The HTA recognized Kane, Piailug, Ka'anana and Steele with He Kuleana Ke Aloha Awards, given to those who have spent virtually a lifetime perpetuating the Hawaiian culture.

Ka'anana spoke fluent Hawaiian and had a deep knowledge of Hawaiian culture. He taught ancient ways of planting kalo, or taro, and was a kupuna at 'Anuenue School, a Hawaiian immersion school. Ka'anana, who died this month, served as an adviser to cultural organizations, such as the statewide Taro Farmers' Association and the Bishop Museum.

Steele, former CEO of Grace Pacific Corp., was born and raised on the Mainland and came to embrace Hawaiian music and language later in life. He helped fund the 'Aha Punana Leo Hawaiian-language immersion program, helped publish several Hawaiian-language books and launched a project to digitize 44 Hawaiian-language newspapers that existed in the latter half of the 1800s. Steele died in April.

Kane is widely known for his art works capturing old Hawai'i. He also co-founded the Polynesian Voyaging Society and helped revive Polynesian canoe voyaging and navigation. Piailug, a Micronesian, mentored the Polynesian Voyaging Society and was the navigator on the historic maiden Hokule'a voyage to Tahiti in 1976.

Educational travel company Pacific Islands Institute won the Koa Award for their "Hawaiian Traditions: History, Culture and Music" program. HTA said the institute's cultural edu-tourism program which includes feather lei making and a trip to the University of Hawai'i Center for Hawaiian Studies provides authentic experiences to visitors and involves the Hawaiian community in defining what the experiences should be.

Kahili Award recipients include:

  • Francis S. Oda, CEO of Group 70 International. Oda has committed himself to ensuring his projects and designs reflect the traditions and history of Hawai'i, HTA said.

  • Kauahea Inc. for "Ka 'Aha Hula 'O Halauaola," a world conference on hula and Hawaiian cultural practices.

  • Hawaiian Airlines for its "Hawaiian Skies In-Flight Video Entertainment" showcasing Hawai'i's people, language and activities.

  • Aloha Beach Resort Kaua'i for "Wailuanuiaho'ano: Great Sacred Wailua," which provides visitors activities exposing them to Kaua'i's history and culture.

  • Waimea Plantation Cottages for its "Kupuna Outreach Program."

  • Ad Wave Advertising for "Hula Le'a Magazine," a quarterly magazine published in Japan and devoted entirely to hula.

    Reach Lynda Arakawa at larakawa@honoluluadvertiser.com.