Monday, October 18, 1999

Star Iolani Luahine Star

Press release photo
A friend of Iolani Luahine, shown here in 1982, says
"her dance was her life and her story itself."

Hula’s high priestess was
tuned to nature

By Cynthia Oi


PEOPLE who knew Iolani Luahine tell stories about her mystic abilities.

Some say the dancer, chanter and teacher of Hawaiian culture -- known as the high priestess of hula -- had powers that defy explanation.

Dorothy Thompson, who annually shepherds the Merrie Monarch hula festival, was a close friend of Luahine's. Aunty Io could call up the wind and the rain and could make animals do her bidding, Thompson said, but Luahine's greatest gift was dance.

"Her dance was her life and her story itself," she said. "Io was such a beautiful person, an extraordinary dancer. She seemed like she would go into a trance. And her movements were like nobody else's."

Luahine was born Harriet Lanihau Makekau on Jan. 31, 1915, in Napoopoo on the Big Island. She was raised by her grand-aunt, Keahi Luahine, who was a proponent of the ancient Kauai school of hula and who began teaching her hanai daughter to dance when the girl was 4 years old.

When struck by an illness that affected her eyes, a kahuna nui (seer) was consulted. The kahuna nui said the child had to be renamed Iolani, the name for a native hawk, and soon her eyesight cleared.

Luahine, who died in 1978, gained renown worldwide. She was invited three times to perform at the National Folk Festival in Washington, D.C., and was named a "Living Treasure" in 1972.

She was a free spirit, "a person who absolutely knew who she was," said Maggi Parker of the Kawananakoa Foundation.

Thompson recalled a rainy day in Hilo in 1969 when Luahine was to march in a parade. "She told me the parade had to start on time, at 1 o'clock, because the rain would stop for only two hours.

"It poured cats and dogs. At 1 o'clock on the nose the rain stopped, and at 3 o'clock the rain came down."

Star Richard T. Mamiya Star

Star-Bulletin file photo
Born in Kalihi, Dr. Richard Mamiya became an
internationally renowned heart surgeon.

Mamiya pioneered
heart surgery in isles

By Shirley Iida


PROMINENT heart surgeon Dr. Richard T. Mamiya approached each operation as a new challenge.

His careful attention to detail and sense of purpose and commitment to his life's work made him an internationally renowned heart surgeon.

Mamiya in the early 1970s pioneered efforts to make coronary bypass surgery a safe, everyday procedure for Hawaii's patients and proved that such procedures could be done here in Hawaii.

Just as devoted to humanitarian and charitable works, he is the founder of the Richard T. Mamiya Charitable Foundation.

The Mamiya Theatre at his alma mater, St. Louis School, is named after the surgeon, who was the president of his 1944 graduating class and the largest individual donor to the arts project.

The Kalihi-born Mamiya earned his medical degree from the St. Louis School of Medicine in Missouri in 1954 and returned to Hawaii to open a private practice in 1961.

Mamiya estimates he has performed more than 10,000 heart surgeries, including a well-publicized quintuple bypass for then-Mayor Frank Fasi in 1988, plus 20,000 or more other types of surgeries during his career.

Mamiya, now 74, closed his private practice two years ago but still works at his office in Queen's Hospital.

Mamiya said what he misses most about his medical practice is the challenge of performing surgeries for children with congenital anomalies.

Every operation was different, he said, and each child was unique.

"The challenge of doing something new was exciting to me. That's been my thing. My philosophy in operating was trying to do something different every time."

Star William Matson Star

Press release photo
Capt. Matson, who built a fleet to service the Pacific,
named the Lurline for his daughter.

Shipping, oil tycoon was
Swedish orphan

By Treena Shapiro
Special to the Star-Bulletin


FOR Captain William Matson, oil and water made a profitable mix.

Born in Lysekil, Sweden, in 1849 and orphaned during childhood, Matson took to the sea early, getting his first ship job as a "handy boy" at age 10.

By 21, Matson was captain of a schooner running between San Francisco and the Puget Sound area. In 1882 he bought his own ship, the Emma Claudina, a three-masted schooner. That ship's first 18-day voyage from San Francisco to Hilo Bay marked the genesis of Matson Navigation Co., a shipping line still thriving today.

In 1887, Matson sold the Emma Claudina and bought the bigger Lurline, named for his daughter. This ship and others were used to transport sugar, canned pineapple and, later, passengers.

Matson kept up with technological innovations as he built up his fleet. His bark Rhoderick Dhu had a cold-storage plant and electric lights. His ships were among the first in the Pacific equipped with radio telegraphs.

His first steamship, the Enterprise, was converted into one of the first offshore ships to burn oil instead of coal.

The second, the Lurline, a steamer built in 1908, had accommodations for 51 passengers due to increased interest in Hawaii as a tourist destination.

A need for fuel oil led to Matson's interest in oil production. "If you use fuel in large quantities, you must control the source of it," he said.

In 1901 he organized the Western Union Oil Co. and built the first California pipelines to stretch from wells to coast shipping points.

In 1910 he organized the Honolulu Consolidated Oil Co. and was instrumental in convincing sugar plantation owners to switch to fuel oil for their irrigation pump and mill requirements.

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