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Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) Announces 16th Annual Keep it Hawai'i Recognition Awards

Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) Announces 16th Annual Keep it Hawai'i Recognition Awards ( The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA), the state agency for tourism, has announced the recipients of the prestigious Keep It Hawai‘i Recognition Awards. At a fullhouse ceremony held today at the Hawai‘i Convention Center, the Koa Award and 11 Kāhili Awards were presented to individuals, organizations and businesses in recognition of their commitment to perpetuate the Hawaiian culture.

“Our host culture is what makes our islands not just special, but truly unique. The Keep It Hawai‘i program is an excellent way for us to recognize and thank those in our community who perpetuate the Hawaiian culture through programs for both residents and visitors,” said Rex Johnson, president and chief executive officer of HTA.
Recognizing long-term and exemplary commitment to perpetuating and preserving Hawai‘i’s host culture, the 2007 Koa Award was presented to Limahuli Garden and Preserve, located on the island of Kaua‘i. The Preserve was honored for their tireless efforts in supporting the Hawaiian culture and protecting and developing Hawaiian knowledge by preservation of natural resources through research, hands-on work and educational opportunities. Their work has led to
the restoration of numerous taro terraces, the development of a collection of rare and endangered Native Hawaiian plants and the creation of educational tours of the area for residents and visitors alike.

The 2007 Kāhili Award recipients are:
• Island of Hawai‘i, Organization: Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation. Facilitates numerous
education programs that perpetuate the culture and heighten indigenous cultural awareness.
• Island of Hawai‘i, Business: ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i. One of the first bilingual education centers where Hawaiian language is primarily used as the medium for learning, with English as a secondary resource.
• Island of Maui, Individual: Ho‘aka Delos Reyes. One of few practitioners focusing on the rare Hawaiian art of kālai pōhaku (stone carving).
• Island of Maui, Business: Maui Nei Native Expeditions. Educational programs directed at the significant cultural areas of Maui, specifically Moku‘ula in Lahaina, once home to the high chiefs of Maui.
• Island of O‘ahu, Individual: Richard “Babe” Bell. Master conch shell blower who, for 50 years, has been sharing this authentic art form at events while educating people on Native Hawaiian protocol.
• Island of O‘ahu, Individual: Roy Sakuma. Prominent ‘ukulele instructor and aficionado recognized for exposing over 40,000 students as well as thousands of residents and visitors to Hawaiian music through instruction and ‘ukulele festivals.
• Island of O‘ahu, Organization: Kamehameha Schools - Annual Song Contest. A nearly ninety year tradition of students involved in musical competition and education about significant people and events in Hawaiian history.
• Island of O‘ahu, Organization: Hula Preservation Society - Kūpuna Documentation. The Society is dedicated to the preservation of hula through documentation of the life stories of the eldest living Hula Masters of Hawai‘i.
• Island of O‘ahu, Business: Brothers Cazimero - 30 Years of May Day Celebration. An annual May Day concert for residents and visitors, perpetuating Hawaiian culture through music and dance.
• Island of O‘ahu, Business: Hana Hou! Magazine. The in-flight magazine of Hawaiian Airlines which highlights stories of the Native Hawaiian culture and community.
• Island of O‘ahu, Business: ‘Ilima Hotel - Mōhala Pua O ‘Ilima. All encompassing program which guides the hotel’s daily business decisions and actions by Hawaiian culture immersion for employees and guests.
“This year, we also had the honor of recognizing five outstanding individuals with lifetime achievement awards for their personal commitment and dedication to ensuring that the Hawaiian culture is perpetuated for generations to come,” said Johnson. He Kuleana Ke Aloha Awards for their “legacy of aloha” lifetime achievement were presented to:
• Spiritual advisor and traditional healer Malia Craver;
• ‘Ukulele virtuoso, filmmaker, singer and composer Eddie Kamae;
• Kumu hula and retired educator John Keola Lake;
• Kupuna and lomilomi specialist Margaret Machado; and,
• The Mai‘oho Family, protectors and keepers of Mauna‘ala, Nu‘uanu site of the Royal Mausoleum for Hawai‘i Ali‘i (high chiefs).

In 2005, HTA began managing the Keep It Hawai‘i Recognition Awards, an initiative of the Hawai‘i Visitors and Convention Bureau that began in 1990. Under the guidance of HTA’s Hawaiian Cultural Program Advisory Council (HCPAC), the program was restructured to focus on the broader community. The Keep It Hawai‘i Recognition Awards program is one of several efforts under HTA’s Hawaiian Culture program, which supports the Hawaiian Culture initiative
in the Hawai‘i Tourism Strategic Plan: 2005-2015.

The Lehua Maka Noe Award recipients, who received certificates of merit, were also announced.
All nominations were judged on the following criteria: authenticity, usage, uniqueness, educational value, longevity, and commitment to the future. HTA's HCPAC which is comprised of members of the Hawaiian community and the visitor industry reviewed the nominations and selected the awardees.

HCPAC members include:
• Peter Apo, founding member of the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association (NaHHA);
• “Brother Noland” Conjugacion, Native Hawaiian musician, artist and teacher;
• Robbie Kaholokula, tourism specialist, County of Kaua‘i;
• Leona Mapuana Kalima, cultural specialist-special projects, Office of Hawaiian Affairs;
• Cheryl L. Ka‘uhane-Lupenui, president and chief executive officer, YWCA of O‘ahu;
• Elizabeth Kapu‘uwailani Lindsey, PH.D., president and chief executive officer, Pono, LLC;
• Debbie Nakanelua-Richards, senior manager of government and community relations,Hawaiian Airlines;
• Ramsay Taum, special assistant to the Dean on Host Culture&Community Outreach, School of Travel Industry Management at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa; and
• Michael White, general manager, Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel.

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority was created in 1998 to ensure a successful visitor industry well into the future. Its mission is to strategically manage Hawai‘i tourism in a sustainable manner consistent with our economic goals, cultural values, preservation of natural resources, community desires, and visitor industry needs. For more information, please visit

For more information, contact: Sharon Freitas Director of Communications Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (808) 973-2272

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