BYUH unveils Hawaiian Studies program

[Story by Mike Foley: Originally published in KALEO, February 26, 1998]

Hawaiian Studies hulaAll the hopes and emotions of a long-time vision being fulfilled were on display the evening of Feb. 12 when the Center for Hawaiian Language and Cultural Studies at Brigham Young University-Hawaii was introduced to the public.

The new program’s introduction occurred on Founders Day — 43 years exactly since The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, led by President David O. McKay, founded the new college in Laie.

Photo caption: Professor William K. Wallace III (right) jumped impromptu into the Moloka‘i Nui Ahina hula as part of the BYUH Hawaiian Studies celebration. —photo by Lester Muranaka

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Lanihuli luau an ono success

[Story and photo by Mike Foley: Originally published in KALEO, March 12, 1998]

Lanihuli Hawaiian Civic Club luauThe Lanihuli Hawaiian Civic Club (LHCC) scholarship luau on March 7 was described as “the best country luau you’ll ever find.”

“To me, it’s what the old-time country luau used to be,” said new LHCC president Sheree Evans, who added that about 500 people attended the annual event on a perfect afternoon at Pu’uhonua o Malaekahana.

The entertainment was outstanding, including:

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‘Jeopardy’ quiz show conducts auditions at PCC

[Story and photos by Mike Foley: Published originally in the BYU-Hawaii online “Newsroom,” January 20, 2003]

"Jeopardy" entrantsA talent search crew for Jeopardy, the Emmy Award-winning TV quiz show, came to the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Pacific Theater on Friday, January 17th, to select three BYU-Hawaii faculty members and a Kahuku High teacher as possible adult contestants during a morning audition, and five BYU-Hawaii students during a noontime tryout.

From the two auditions, Jeopardy contestant coordinators selected Honors Program Director and English professor Randall Allred (on the left in the picture), music professor David Kammerer (on the right), history professor James Tueller (in the middle), and Kahuku High testing coordinator Joseph Holzman as possible candidates for the daytime show; and BYU-Hawaii students Ryan Alexander (a recent graduate), Daniel Chase, Mitchell Colver, Stefanie Johannessen and Luke Mease as possible contestants on the $50,000 College Championship show.

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Steve Young addresses EFY group

[Story and photos by Mike Foley: Originally published in KALEO, January 29, 1998]

Steve YoungPro-Bowl quarterback Steve Young [pictured at right] of the San Francisco 49ers took time out from preparations for the game to travel from Honolulu to Laie on Jan. 31 where he addressed a gathering of Latter-day Saints youth.

The event, “Especially for Youth,” (EFY) was attended by approximately 1,600 young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The youth, ages 12–18, were in Laie from all over the state for the day-long conference, which is held yearly on the BYU-Hawaii Campus and is sponsored by the school’s Division of Continuing Education.

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Hundreds join in Laie taro planting ceremony

[Story and photos by Mike Foley: Originally published in KALEO, February 12, 1998]

taro plants in lo'i kaloSeveral hundred kupuna, kuleana neighbors, VIPS, community and business leaders, residents, keikis, students and guests gathered in old Po’ohaili on Feb. 7 to participate in the large-scale restoration of taro to Laie.

The sounds of the pu shell and Hawaiian chanting by William Kaiwiulaokalani Wallace III, Director of BYU-Hawaii’s new Hawaiian Studies Program, welcomed the crowd that beautiful, sunny afternoon to a special ceremony to honor a new six-acre taro farming project being initiated mauka of Laie by Hawaii Reserves, Inc. (HRI).

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HRI to launch taro project in Laie

[Story and photo by Mike Foley: Originally published in KALEO, January 29, 1998]

Hawaii Reserves, Inc. (HRI) plans to bring taro farming back to Laie on a scale that hasn’t been seen in Ko’olauloa for decades.

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Duo marks 20 years in Laie preschool

[Story and photos by Mike Foley: Originally published in KALEO, November 29, 1997]

Gerry NihipaliGerry Nihipali [pictured at right] and Lilian Makaiau have been preparing children for school for 20 years in Laie. They teach preschool for four-year-olds and last year they had children of former students in their classes. Their students mainly come from Laie, but they have had students as far away as Kaneohe and Pupukea. Teaching the children is one of Nihipali and Makaiau’s greatest love and passions.

They got started teaching when the preschool teacher who was teaching their children moved to the mainland. The teacher wanted someone to carry on with the program she had worked so hard to establish. She wanted it to stay in Laie and approached Makaiau about taking the preschool. Nihipali had the space to set up the preschool, and so they told her they’d do it. The teacher gave them all the materials she had been using. They have since amassed a great wea lth of knowledge and materials over the years.

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Kupuna tales: Old Laie and the Hukilau

Ahi Logan[By Mike Foley: Originally published in KALEO, September 25, 1997]

Ahi Logan’s [pictured on left] family roots run deep in Hawaii. Names like Kuakaha, Kawaiopua, Kaleohano, Nainoa and Lokona Kalili have great meaning to him, his family and the community. These are names of just a few of his ancestors. Logan can trace his family line back several generations because of the importance family and traditions played in the Hawaiian culture.

They were just able to recently connect on their Nainoa side. A lady named Makaua Kang gave Wilma Fonoimoana, Logan’s cousin, a box containing family records about four years ago. She gave the box to Logan and he discovered missing information that enabled him to trace his genealogy from himself all the way to the first man on his Nainoa line through his mother, Keli’iwaewae’ole.

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Pacific Pioneer: Aivao Leota

[Originally published in KALEO on April 3, 1997]

Connections to Samoa, Tonga and Hawaii


By Ipolani Thompson

As a little child, even before starting school, I’ve always loved and appreciated journals and genealogy. Always!  My mother, Vaiolini Leota Niko, was an excellent example of this for she was truly a record keeper. Her journals are filled with so much love, humility and gratitude to be able to pass on these treasures to her posterity. She always writes in her journals, “I pray that the Spirit of the Lord will guide me in my recordings in my journals, that whatever I record will benefit and inspire my children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, in our wonderful Gospel.” Well, Mom, we are so blessed and inspired by your works that I want to share it with others.

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Origins of Laie street names

[Originally published in KALEO on April 3, 1997]

The late Wylie Swapp, 1997

A recent proposal to rename one of the streets in Laie caused Kaleo to investigate how the streets came to be named as they are. Kupuna said talk to retired art professor and longtime Laie resident Wylie Swapp.

Typical of his high degree of organization and sense of history, Swapp, who’s lived in Laie for over 40 years and who first came to the South Pacific a half-century ago, had pulled out a file with most of his original notes from the 1961 street naming project.

“When I first came to Laie [in 1955 as an original faculty member at Church College of Hawai’i], there were only about three streets that were named,” he reminisces, “and the town had been extended to include BYU-Hawaii, so there were some additional street, or extensions of streets.”

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Kahana family shares taro patch

Ron Johnson in his family’s lo’i kalo in Kahana

[Originally published in KALEO on October 31, 1996]

Almost 200 people turned out early Saturday morning, Nov. 2nd, before the sun climbed over the Ko’olau ridges of Kahana Valley to squish their toes in the mud and help Ron Johnson plant huli or taro tops in his family patch alongside Kamehameha Highway. It had been almost 20 years since the lo’i had been used to grow taro.

“We had families from the Big Island, Molokai, Waianae,” Johnson said. “Lie had a good representation along with the neighboring communities. It was a great experience. The kids had a ball.”

“Basically, it’s the restoration of an old family patch. I’m trying to share it with the kids, and I hope we have more people who know how, who’ve done it before, come out and give me a hand. We need all the help we can get.”

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Laie ladies named top teachers at Kahuku

[Originally published in KALEO on October 3, 1996]Elizabeth Kammerer 1996

Sunday Mariteragi 1996Students, staff and faculty at Kahuku High and Intermediate School recently elected two Laie women as top teachers at the North Shore school: Sunday Mariteragi (left) and Elizabeth Kammerer (right).

In addition to tying for the teacher of the year award and winning $100 each, Mariteragi received the Oceanic Cablevision/Finance Factors Outstanding Educator Award for Kahuku High School; and Kammerer went on to be named Windward District Teacher of the Year, including a $500 monetary award from the Polynesian Cultural Center, and State Teacher of the Year, earning another $1,000 cash prize from the PCC.

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Renowned ethnobotanist urges conservation

Story and photo by Mike Foley
(originally published in Kaleo, January 25, 2001)

Dr. Paul Cox

A world-renowned ethnobotanist — who has strong ties to Laie, other parts of Hawaii, and Samoa — is very concerned about losing indigenous plants and the knowledge of their use in treating human ailments.

Dr. Paul A. Cox — Distinguished Professor of Ethnobotany at BYU-Hawaii, Director of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, with headquarters on Kaua’i, and a member of the Hawai’i Reserves, Inc. board of directors — told an audience of over 100 in the BYUH Ballroom on Jan. 9th that he hopes “to preserve plants that would otherwise go extinct. We’re losing rain forests at a very rapid rate, including the 250,000 species of plants they contain. That’s particularly true in the Hawaiian archipelago.” [Read more…]

‘Johnny Lingo’ cast, crew hold Laie reunion

Mahana and Johnny Lingo

Kaho’ilua-Wilson (left) and Makee Blaisdell in “Johnny Lingo”


Story and photos by Mike Foley (July 2010)

LAIE, Hawaii — Cast and crewmembers of the 1969 Latter-day Saint film Johnny Lingo reunited on July 29, 2010, in the BYU–Hawaii Cannon Activities Center to celebrate the cinematic Polynesian fable’s perennial popularity over the past 40 years and also to hear from two of its main characters, Naomi Kaho’ilua Wilson who acted in the role of Mahana and Joseph Ah Quin, who played her father, Moki.

The BYU–Hawaii based Mormon Pacific Historical Society and the Laie Community Association co-sponsored the reunion as part of the annual Laie Days, which similar to the Days of ’47 in Utah, celebrates Laie’s Latter-day Saint pioneer heritage going back to 1865. [Read more…]

Family commitment to high quality

TED’s BAKERY: Ted, mom and Glenn Nakamura

Two brothers who graduated from Kahuku High in the mid-70s have seen their Sunset Beach bakery grow dramatically because of a commitment to high quality products, such as their best-selling chilled chocolate haupia [Hawaiian coconut custard] and cream pie.

Glenn and Ted Nakamura told BYU-Hawaii business students during the Entrepreneurship Lecture Series on Feb. 3, 2004, that they have seen Ted’s Bakery, which started in 1987, grow from selling a few pies a week to a peak of over 14,000 during a recent Thanksgiving week.

Glenn Nakamura, the older brother who graduated from Kahuku in 1974, told how his parents initially opened a fruit and vegetable stand on their five-acre farm in Sunset Beach in 1956, but soon discovered “it was a lot easier to run a grocery business than it was to farm.” [Read more…]