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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Margaret K. Machado gave art of lomilomi to the world

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Margaret K. Machado

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A lomilomi master who dared to teach the ancient Hawaiian massage art to outsiders and later was recognized for her contributions in the field has died.

Margaret Kalehuamakanoelu'ulu'uonäpali Machado, 93, died peacefully in Kona on Monday surrounded by her 'ohana.

She was said to be the first Hawaiian to teach the art of lomilomi to non-Hawaiians and the first lomilomi teacher certified by the state.

She opened her doors at Ke'ei Beach to students from all over the world and loved them unconditionally, said Dean Cormin, of Vancouver, British Columbia.

"She was pure love in a lot of ways," said Cormin, one of her students. "One could be white, black, gay, purple, from the planet Mars — it didn't matter to her, as long as you were with her, you were considered 'ohana."

"Auntie Margaret" Machado strived to learn as much as she could about massage from a Western point of view, including anatomy, and in that sense she was a kahuna although she would never call herself that, said Makana Risser Chai, one of her students and author of two books about lomilomi.

People sought her out sometimes drawn by a mysterious force, ending up on her doorstep during a class at Ke'ei, she said.

"Literally people would say things like, 'I left my hotel in Waikoloa and just drove here,' " Chai said. "They would end up on her länai and she would smile at them, pat them and talk to them."

Haunani Hopkins, president of the Hawaiian Lomilomi Association, said Machado emphasized a spiritual aspect of lomilomi and that is why she was so effective as a healer and teacher.

"I kept getting these dreams that I needed to come to the source and when I did I found out that this is the real lomilomi," Hopkins said. "This is where it's coming from. It's coming from the spirit of God. It's not just techniques."

Machado was born on O'ahu on Aug. 21, 1916, to C. Solomon and Elizabeth Au Solomon, orphaned and raised in a missionary home, but she never lost touch with her family roots in Näpo'opo'o on the Big Island.

At 10, her grandfather, John Au, traveled to O'ahu to bless her and acknowledge her destiny as a healer and teacher, said Nerita Machado, her daughter. But it took almost 40 years before she learned her skills and opened a school on the Big Island.

In the meantime she graduated from McKinley High School, became a practical nurse at St. Francis Hospital, married Daniel Machado Sr. and raised her family for a while on O'ahu and in Näpo'opo'o, Nerita Machado said.

Margaret Machado learned lomilomi from an aunt and would always be willing to help neighbors and at the high school, she said.

"She worked with the athletes, massage them when they were injured, and in a few hours they would be better," Nerita Machado said.

She became a state licensed instructor in 1965 and started a lomilomi school in the early 1970s. Students would come, do chores around the property and learn. She had more than 1,000 students throughout the years.

"Auntie Margaret used to tell her haumana — students — that lomilomi was 'touching the body with a loving touch,' encouraging them that 'if your hands are gentle and loving, your patient will feel the sincerity of your heart and the love of God will flow though you,' " Nerita Machado said.

Margaret Machado received numerous awards including Living Treasure of Hawai'i, the Ka'onohi Award for Hawaiian Health and He Kuleana Aloha Award for lifetime achievement.

She is survived by daughters Nerita, Lana and Alohalani, and son Daniel Jr.

A funeral is pending.