Sunday, January 25, 2004

6 more named
‘Living Treasures’

Six people will be honored next month as "Living Treasures of Hawaii" in a program sponsored by Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii to celebrate contributions to the islands' cultural heritage. Nominated for their years of dedication to scholarship and their contributions to culture, the creative arts and government service, the six honorees join a prestigious list of more than 100 Hawaii residents named since the program was started in 1976. The program was modeled on Japan's recognition of Living National Treasures. It was the inspiration of Honolulu insurance executive Paul Yamanaka, who found instant support from the Rev. Yoshiaki Fujitani, former bishop of Honpa Hongwanji Mission. About 500 people are expected at the Feb. 13 banquet at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel to applaud the honorees. Reservations may be made by calling Herbert Hamada, 277-5195. The "Living Treasures" are:


The Rev. Mitsuo Aoki, 89, is best known for his work to help people understand death and dying and bring acceptance and peace to terminally ill patients and their families. Aoki brought his beliefs as a former Buddhist and a Christian to his work, which began with a University of Hawaii class on death and dying. He is credited with founding the UH Department of Religion, where he taught for 44 years. He is a co-founder of Hospice Hawaii and was the subject of a film documentary, "Living Your Dying." He established the Foundation for Holistic Health, which promotes a holistic approach to health, healing, death and dying.


Genoa Keawe, 84, has received numerous accolades for her lifetime as a singer, including being named to the 2001 Hawaiian Hall of Fame and the 2000 National Heritage Fellowship bestowed by the National Endowment for the Arts. The songstress is known for her sustained high notes, and she has recorded more than 140 songs. She still entertains on Thursdays at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort. She tells admirers that her musical ability is "a gift from God."


Pat Namaka Bacon, 83, was raised as a hanai child of renowned Hawaiian language and culture scholar Mary Kawena Pukui, and she carried on the tradition. As a cultural resource specialist at Bishop Museum, she is acknowledged for her encyclopedic knowledge of Hawaiian language, culture, hulas and chants. She has served on the University of Hawaii Committee for Preservation of Hawaiian Language, Culture and the Arts, and on the Hawaii Historical Places Review Board. She has danced the hula since childhood, still conducts workshops for kumu hula and is tapped as a judge for hula competitions.


Fujio Matsuda, 79, was the first Asian-American president of the University of Hawaii. He also has served as director of the state Department of Transportation and executive director of the UH Research Corp. Last year, he led a drive to raise $9 million to save the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii from closing. He is currently chairman of the Pacific International Center for High-tech Research, engaged in projects with Japan and Fiji.


Edith Kawelohea McKinzie, 78, is director of the Bishop Museum's Hawaiian-language newspaper indexing and cataloging project and chairwoman of the University of Hawaii Committee for the Preservation and Study of the Hawaiian Language, Art and Culture. She is the author of "Hawaiian Genealogies." She has lectured on Hawaiian studies at UH, Honolulu Community College and Kamehameha Schools. Her contributions to fostering traditional Hawaiian culture and values have been recognized in honors from the State Council on Hawaiian Heritage and the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs.


Tau Moe, 95, has performed as a steel-string guitarist for 80 years, with memories of appearances before famous people while on tours in the Orient, Europe and the mainland. He is the oldest living recording artist on the Sony and Decca labels and a lifetime member of the American Federation of Musicians. Born in Samoa, he speaks 10 languages. During World War II, the Moe family helped Jewish musicians escape from the Nazi regime. He was recognized last year for his contributions to Hawaiian music by the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association, Gov. Linda Lingle, the state Legislature and Mayor Jeremy Harris.


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