HANNEMANN FAMILY PHOTO
An undated handout photo shows Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann with his wife, Oahu siblings and their families at the baptism of his 8-year-old nephew in early 2006. CLICK FOR LARGE
Mayor's siblings tell of strong family ties
Mufi has learned from and carries the best traits of all, say the six proud Hannemanns
Mayor Mufi Hannemann's appreciation of politics, sports and music is something he shares with brothers Gus, Miller and Nephi.
His sisters Faiaso, Vaofua and Gafanua also carry on traits and values that they attribute to their mother.
The mayor's family are his confidants, pillars of support and his political advisers -- the people he can always count on.
"We are each other's best friends," said brother Nephi, an entertainer and writer.
It's been a long time since Honolulu had a mayor with so many brothers and sisters. Former Mayor Jeremy Harris was an only child.
Oldest brother Gus, who still calls the 6-foot-7 mayor "kid," says Mufi personifies the best traits of each sibling and their late parents, Gustav and Faiaso.
"This kid has taken a little bit from all of us, and has put it all together and taken it to the next level," said Gus Hannemann, liaison and consultant to the American Samoa Territorial Senate.
"Everybody had their own strengths, and we're proud of every one of them," Nephi said.
For example, Gus, who served in the Samoan Territorial Legislature, gave his little brother an early lesson in public speaking.
"I remember when he was younger and I used to teach him how to be a speaker. I would make him face the mirror and he would talk, learning gestures and how not to use notes to remember things," Gus Hannemann said.
His greatest moment was seeing his brother use those public speaking skills during Mufi's inauguration speech last year.
"You have no idea. When I've seen him speak, even at the inauguration, I kind of had to hold back the tears, because all of us had something to do with it," Gus Hannemann said, getting choked up.
Humor and competition are also family traits.
For Gus and the mayor, their friendly rivalry shows in clothes, particularly shirts made by designer Ann Namba.
Gus said he bought a Namba shirt in Las Vegas and brought it back to Hawaii.
"Somehow this was the only shirt that Mufi didn't have, so one day we're watching TV, the 6 o'clock news came on. I was resting and my wife said to me, 'Honey, you've got to turn on the TV to see Mufi' I said, 'I've seen Mufi before.' She said, 'But you've got to watch it, honey, he's got your shirt on!'"
Nephi said he and his brother share a love of music and sports that has helped make Mufi the politician he is today.
"He's fearless in making tough decisions. Like in sports, there are a select few who want the ball at crunch time. 'Give me the ball, give me the ball.' He wants the ball," said Nephi.
Because he was the boy closest in age to his youngest brother, Nephi said he and Mufi were particularly close.
"I hope I influenced him in some of the things he did. We always had a lot of friends. He, too, surrounds himself with the best and finest people," Nephi said.
According to Gus, their sister Vaofua, now known as Lady Va Maughan, lives in New York and is married to British financier Sir Deryck Maughan.
"She is a classy lady, just like our mother, and that class has rubbed off on us," Gus said.
The youngest Hannemann sibling, Nua Memea, cherishes her brother Mufi's pride in her being a good mother.
"I'm the one with the most children. I'm the one that's hardly ever around because I'm doing things with my kids," she said, laughing. "And sometimes people that don't know me, and I'll just walk in (to her brother's office) and they say, 'Excuse me, do you have an appointment to see the mayor?' And I'll go, 'I'm the younger sister.' And they'll look at me, 'Sure.'"
But since the mayor doesn't have children of his own, she gladly shares hers, and he frequently is seen holding Nua's 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old grandson, who is named after Mufi.
Nua said it's difficult at times to listen to criticism of the mayor. "I guess it's a natural reaction, but I get upset because I'm thinking, 'Hello? You're attacking my brother.' But yet I try to listen, and I try to understand how other people feel."
Gus remembers getting a call during the last mayoral election from his brother, who reported that both daily newspapers had him behind in the polls in the final days before the election. "He was very emotional. I told him, 'This is your time, Mufi.'"
Gus said that's why he rejected suggestions from campaign advisers that they might be emphasizing "too much family" and to scale back emphasis on his Samoan and Mormon upbringing during the campaign.
Nua recalled that the night before the election when they all gathered for family prayer.
"Mufi mentioned in his prayer to help him with this election and he asked the Lord that if he were not voted into office that the Lord will have something better in store for him," Nua remembered. "When he won the election, it was so tearful for us because we were so happy for him, because it was such a long road. And to me I think it's him being strong in church, loving his family, and he receives all these blessings."
Gus Hannemann said that's why, when people suggested Mufi cut short his time in the mayor's seat to run for governor or Congress, he advised his brother against that.
"Mom would say, 'Mufi, don't be cheeky. Stay and finish this job,'" Gus said.
Mayor, sister back home in Samoa
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa » Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and his sister Vaofu'a Maugh are visiting his ancestral homeland.
They arrived in Pago Pago on Thursday to visit family members and to pay their respects at their mother's grave.
On Friday, Hannemann put to rest rumors that he plans to run for the U.S. House.
"I am very happy with what I am doing right now," said Hannemann, the first Honolulu mayor of Samoan ancestry. "Rumors that I plan to run for Congress are just that, rumors, and there is no truth to them."
Hannemann said he is committed to serving his full four-year term and plans to seek re-election in 2008.
"I love my job and I love what I am doing," he said. "My wife, Gail, tells me every morning that I'm like a kid going to kindergarten -- anxious to go to school. I'm anxious to go to work."
Hannemann and his sister were to return to Honolulu today.