Revisiting early years of Hawaii Kai
By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser East Honolulu Writer
By Suzanne Roig
HAWAI'I KAI — Not even half a century old, Hawai'i Kai has a past worth telling.
It's even been recorded, printed and bound for publication in the 1983 book "Hawaii Kai: The First 20 Years."
Now, the 24-year-old book is enjoying a resurgence of interest, selling more than 1,000 copies in recent months thanks to the Rotary Club of Hawai'i Kai, which decided to reproduce the volume as a fundraiser.
The club took the work of one of its founders, Handy Hancock — the boat launch off Hawai'i Kai Drive is named after him — and had it reproduced to help pay for some of the community projects that come the club's way, said Dave Barrows, a Rotary Club member.
Buyers include residents who want to know about the history of the area and real estate agents who give them away as gifts to new owners, Barrows said.
"The money we generate from the sale of the book will stay in Hawai'i Kai," he said. "We have spent a lot of money recently on several projects in the community."
Among those projects was the information sign at Koko Head Elementary School, a scoreboard at the Hawai'i Kai roller hockey rink, Thanksgiving dinner at the Lunalilo Home, school-supply drives and renovation of the Kaiser High School teachers' lounge. Barrows said the projects were quite an undertaking for the club's 13 members.
The author, Hancock, who was Hawai'i Kai founding father Henry J. Kaiser's executive assistant for 14 years and later vice president in charge of marketing for development firm Kaiser Hawa'i Kai, chronicled the history of the building of the community, complete with original pictures.
Hancock writes of Kaiser's vision for the community taking shape from the early days, from 1961 to 1982, back when there were only two shopping centers in the community. No Costco, no Roy's Restaurant and no Longs Drugs.
In fact, when the book was first published, only the Safeway portion of what was then called Kuapa Kai Shopping Center was built.
The book sat on the shelf of the public library and the Kaiser High School library for years. No one at Rotary thought of reprinting it until school librarian Lois Nagamine called and asked if she could make copies. Her books had been damaged by water, Nagamine said.
"Students have used the book when they had to do research about their community," she said. "It's a valuable resource for students. "The Rotary Club gave us five new copies, but we already have lost one. Maybe it's been misfiled."
The club didn't realize that the copyright for the book was owned by Hancock's family and no one had an original copy of the book, which made it difficult to reprint, Barrows said.
"We found no originals of the book, and it took a year to obtain approval from Hancock's estate," Barrows said. "Even the pictures were not original. This is the first time we've ever reprinted the book. "
The more books that sell, the more the group is able to do in the future, said David Mueh, club president. "We are excited about the outlook for more successful service projects and the possibility of attracting new members, who would like the opportunity to give back to the Hawai'i Kai community," he said.
Reach Suzanne Roig at email@example.com.