Annette La Mariana Nahinu / 1914-2008
STAR-BULLETIN / 2003
Patrons sit at the bar at La Mariana on Sand Island Road. The restaurant and boat club, which opened in 1955, was built and run by Annette Nahinu, left. Nahinu died July 19.
Restaurateur was beloved by island sailing community
Out of a strip of junkyard at Keehi Lagoon, Annette La Mariana Nahinu built La Mariana Sailing Club not once, but twice with her own hands on the strength of a dream.
Nahinu's maiden name, La Mariana, means "the little sea" in Italian. At age 93 she died July 19 of natural causes at Hawaii Medical Center-East.
Nahinu was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1914.
Nahinu first made her "vision of a beautiful yacht club" a reality in 1955 with 13 boats berthed for 50 cents a month, according to her journal; the club now manages some 100 boat slips in a marina outside the 40-table bar/restaurant. Up until a couple of months ago, Nahinu still ran things at 50 Sand Island Access Road, according to manager Judith Calma.
Nahinu would sit at her favorite table near the door every day and make sure her customers felt at home at the clubhouse, a throwback to old Hawaii with its tikis, piano music and vintage decor, Calma said. Besides regular locals, many tourists returned to relish the Hawaiiana and her warm hospitality, she said.
"This is my hobby, my life, my goal, my everything," Nahinu once said of the sailing club, when awarded a 2006 certificate of honor from the City and County of Honolulu for more than 50 years of successful business.
In the 1950s before he became governor, George Ariyoshi was on his way to the marina when he witnessed "a young haole woman with a wheelbarrow pushing dirt and working so hard. ... I was very touched by this lady doing all this manual labor," he said.
"I advised her to go get a long-term lease because I said I hate to see you put in all that effort" to fix the property up only to have her month-to-month lease suddenly revoked.
"Everybody who dealt with her had very strong feelings about what a wonderful person she was," he said.
Although he never did any official legal work on her behalf, Ariyoshi would advise her from time to time over the years. When she wanted to pay him, he told her he was just happy to see her succeed, Ariyoshi said.
New Zealander Johnny Campbell helped Nahinu first build the sailing club in 1955 "with a shovel and a rake," according to journal written by Nahinu. They survived a tidal wave and an exhausting cleanup process.
The sailing club was forced to move in 1978, but relocated just 50 yards away. It was a Herculean task to rebuild: "The concrete junkyard was gradually being transformed into an oasis," she wrote. After years of wrangling, she finally got a 35-year lease from the state at public auction in 1979.
Calma, an employee for more than 10 years, is the sole trustee and president of the Annette L. Nahinu Revocable Living Trust, according to Nahinu's lawyer, Edward Sanpei. He said Nahinu cared deeply about her employees and is relying on them to keep the restaurant open.
Nahinu's third marriage, to Lorren Nahina, lasted a dozen years. She had no children, but is survived by a brother, Phillip La Mariana of Tennessee. Services will be held tomorrow at Mililani Mortuary, mauka chapel. Visitation is at 10:15 a.m.; service, 11:30 a.m.; burial, 12:30 p.m. at Mililani Memorial Park. Flowers are welcome.