By Star-Bulletin Staff

Saturday, November 1, 1997

Family ‘together forever’

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Lagi Faumuina Poston is held by her husband, Joseph Poston, while she
and her brother, Don Faumuina, right, greet guests arriving
for Saturday's funeral for seven family members.

The surviving family members, friends
and neighbors honor those who died
in the tragic Palolo fire

By Helen Altonn and Mary Adamski

Looking around the crowd in the church cultural hall Saturday morning, Elaine Faumuina said she didn't recognize everybody.

"We have had really, really tremendous support from the community. Not only the community, but the whole island," she said.

More than 300 people attended funeral services today for seven members of Faumuina's family who died when their Palolo home burned on Oct. 15. The service closed with the hymn, "Families can be together forever."

Faumuina said the love and support the surviving members of the family have received has enabled them to bear the losses.

"We're all hanging in there," she said. "When we go home, we talk about the good times -- never tears at home, just laughter and jokes."

But there were tears this morning.

Faumuina and her surving children, sons Don and Ulutunu Jr. and daughters Jane Faumuina and Lagi Faumuina Poston, received condolences from the friends and family. About a dozen firefighters were among those who paid their respects at theKaimuki-Kahala Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Cooks and chefs from the Princess Kaiulani Hotel and the Waikiki Beach Hotel served food to guests at the church. Faumuina's husband, Ulutunu Faumuina, 52, worked at both hotels before he perished in the fire.

Faumuina said the "majority of the people came out today because he touched their lives."

She said he was a very uplifting person, and the family doesn't want to mourn because they know he is in a better place, and they will be with him someday. However, she said she expected to break down at the cemetery.

"I won't hold anything back, because it will be my last moment with him." Also killed in the fire were their son, James "Kalani," 12, and daughter, Ramona V. Asuao, 22; Ramona's husband Ailatupu Asuao, 31; and the Asuaos' son, Ailatupu J., 5, and twin daughters, Aotoa and Lele, 4.

Lagi Faumuina Poston was unable to talk through her tears to give a eulogy for her father, so her mother stepped up to help her.

Faumuina said her daughter "did really good" in practicing the eulogy last night, but "this is daddy's girl, and that's why she's having a hard time saying it."

Faumuina told humorous stories about her husband and asked that he be remembered as a "kind, loving, generous man."

"We will remember him as a hero," she said.

Friends also paid their respects during a three-hour service at the church last night.

Faaletoa Tuimalealiifano, acting head of state for Western Samoa, was among 15 speakers last night. He told the crowd of more than 500 people that he had conveyed the rank of maitai or chief on Ulutunu Faumuina 10 years ago.

Despite the daunting sight of seven closed caskets, surrounded by swaths of fine woven mats and banks of floral wreaths, there was an upbeat tone to the gatherings.

"My brother was well known for his smiling face," Loloa Asuao said last night.

"Kalani, you don't need slippers now because you have have wings," said Jane Faumuina, recalling her brother.

The seven family members were buried in Laie Cemetery.

Subpoenas cover many activities of estate

The attorney general's office has issued at least 31 subpoenas in its investigation of trustees' management of Bishop Estate.

They seek documents and testimony including interviews with two trustees, credit card information and an accounting of all nonbid contracts over $100,000.

Information gathered by subpoena has been at the heart of the legal wrangling between the trust and Attorney General Margery Bronster during the opening months of the state probe launched in August.

Circuit Judge Kevin Chang ordered Bishop Estate trustees to comply with a state subpoena and turn over all nonprivileged trustee minutes since January 1993, which they did.

Chang is in the process of determining whether the balance of those minutes, deemed proprietary by Bishop Estate, should be kept from public view. He denied a Bishop Estate request for a protective order covering the subpoenaed documents. -- Bishop Estate Archive

Relocation contracts suspicious

A city employee who was arrested on suspicion of theft and bribery Friday supervised contract bids that were awarded to his associates, officials said.

City officials say Michael Kahapea, Property Management Division chief for the city Department of Housing and Community Development, invited friends and business associates to bid on Ewa Villages business relocation contracts in the tens of thousands of dollars. At least five companies are being investigated.

Kahapea was arrested yesterday under suspicion of theft, bribery, money laundering, forgery and illegal ownership of a business. Also arrested in the same case was Norman Tam, the city's fair-housing officer. Both were released pending further investigation.

Some $6 million in city funds were paid from 1992 to summer 1997 involving the Ewa Redevelopment Project.

Bigger staff needed to stop illegal hunting

Hawaii needs more conservation officers to enforce marine laws and prevent illegal acts like the slaughter of six green sea turtles on the Big Island this week, state Land and Natural Resources head Michael Wilson says.

Wilson Friday asked the public to help apprehend suspects in the case, the second time in three months that the threatened species has been the victim of a large kill.

"One of the problems that we have had historically in Hawaii is that we're not able to enforce our ocean laws," he said. "That's why it's so critical not to get the help of the public. We have an understaffed marine enforcement program."

Acting on an anonymous tip, two officers yesterday found the shells of the six turtles in a ravine a few feet off Kamokuna Street in Keaukaha, an area of Hilo near Onekahakaha Beach Park.

The shells were cleaned and the meat removed "for either personal consumption or commercial use," Wilson said.

See expanded coverage in Saturday's Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
See our [Info] section for subscription information.

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Community]
[Info] [Letter to Editor] [Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1997 Honolulu Star-Bulletin