Fo Real Kine
Facts about La’ie you probably never
How can you tell if a person is from Hawaii? He'll flash you a "shaka" sign in greeting. Little is known about the La'ie origin of this local gesture. A large Hawaiian man by the name of Hamana Kalili lost the index, middle and ring finger of his right hand from an accident at the Laie sugar plantation. He was well-known to everyone in this quiet Mormon town. When Hamana conducted church services on Sunday, one would only notice the thumb and little finger.
The children would imitate Hamana by bending their index, middle and ring fingers and say, "right on." Through La'ie's children, this sign spread. A local car salesman, Lippy Espinda, used the "Shaka" sign in his TV commercials. It gained state-wide popularity when Frank Fasi used it while campaigning for Mayor of Honolulu in the early seventies.
*This story was shared by Kupuna LaVerne and Rueben Pukahi and confirmed by Hamana's grandson, Walter Wong, former Head Custodian of La'ie Elementary.
Edging La'ie Bay is a necklace of white coral sand. The more popular section is called Hukilau Beach. The other sections are called Malaekahana and Temple Beach. Before it was called Hukilau Beach, the community called it "Hamana beach" after Hamana Kalili who had his boat house there.
Hukilau Beach was made famous by Jack Owen's song, "Going to a Hukilau." He penned the words to the song after visiting Laie as a tourist and participating in a community fundraiser. Godfrey enjoyed his experience at the Hukilau so much he wrote a song about it and sang it while playing an ukulele. The Mormons in La'ie were organizing weekly hukilaus, luaus and entertainment on the beach at Laie Bay to raise money to build a new chapel. (The old one had burned down.) The main fishermen of the village, Hamana Kalili, Jubilee Logan and Moke Hiram were responsible for the fishing. Community members were organized into work groups to prepare food for the luau and put on a show. Hamana Kalili, being a large Hawaiian, portrayed King Kamehameha. When the money was raised and the chapel built, the weekly community hukilau was discontinued. Once in a while, if you're lucky, you'll see a group pulling hukilau nets. If you do stop what you're doing and get in there to help; it's not often you get to experience a real hukilau.
A mosaic depicting a school flag raising ceremony graces the front
wall of the McKay Building foyer at Brigham Young University. "In
1921, as he (David O. McKay, President of the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints) visited the mission at Laie, he was inspired
by the sight of the flag raising ceremony at the Church elementary
school there. His feelings were articulated the next day on Maui
when he indicated that a school of higher learning would be built
in Hawaii. The college (Church College of Hawaii) was established
(in 1955) and has since been designated as Brigham Young University
Hawaii Campus." (Great are the Promises unto the Isles of the
Sea. Joseph H. Spurrier. Hawaii Honolulu Mission of The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, c1978. pp.26.)
That church elementary school was later turned over to the Territory
of Hawaii. Laie Elementary School continues this tradition of flag
raising accompanied by bugle. Everyone on campus stands at attention
with hand over heart when the bugle sounds in the morning, the JPO's
raise the flag, the bugle ends and the day begins.
Names in Laie (As told by
As a plantation village, Laie had few streets, Lanihuli, Wahinepee
and Puuahi, already used by the Hawaiians. Lanihuli Street was named
after the rise or hill where the temple grounds are. This street
led right to the door of the Mission Home (of the LDS church in
Hawaii). The mission home was called Lanihuli House.
In the old days, Wahinepee Street was the main thoroughfare of
Laie, not Kamehameha Highway, and is a name selected by the City
and County. The villagers didn't particularly care for that name
which means "secretive woman" but the City and County
didn't want to change the name.
Puuahi means "hill fire." At the ocean end of Puuahi used
to be a tall sand dune on the beach. Fishermen would bring in their
catch and build a fire on top of the sand dune to cook the fish.
When the villagers saw this fire, they knew that there was fish
cooking for everyone...it was a sign to "come and get it."
There was no refrigeration in those days.
Poohaili is an old Hawaiian name for the district and area where
the street is located.
Wylie Swapp, one of the original faculty members of Church College
of Hawaii and long time community leader, named most of the streets
in Laie. In 1956 he was serving on the board of "Hui Laulima"
the community organization of Laie. As Church College was built
he was asked as a board member to name the streets. He used the
Hawaiian-English Dictionary and selected names that were interesting,
had meaning, and a nice flow to it. Hale Laa is the road that leads
to the Mormon Temple, the sacred house. Kulanui joins the elementary
school with the University, the "big school." Originally,
Naniloa Loop was called Pohakuhonua, but was changed because it
was too cumbersome to say. Loala means "to play" and was
meant for the street by Laie Park. The City and County put the sign
on the wrong street and that was that. Moana means "ocean."
Wylie Swapp was surprised that no street was given that name on
Oahu, so he claimed it for Laie. The City and County wouldn't allow
duplicate street names. Palekana was also another unused name that
was claimed for Laie. Iosepa Street was named for the people who
returned to Laie from a desert colony in Utah by that same name.
These families that returned settled along that road.
Kekuku (1874-1932) is regarded
as the inventor of the steel guitar.
Kekuku was born in La’ie, a village on the island of O’ahu,
Hawaii. As a boy, he would experiment with guitar technique; sliding
ordinary household objects across the strings to see what sounds
could be produced. By the time he was an adult, he had developed
a unique style of playing. He traveled extensively, teaching and
performing throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Joseph Kekuku died in Boston, Massachusetts.
Choy, Celebrity Chef
"Hawaii's Culinary Ambassador" is the honorary title
bestowed upon chef Sam Choy by the Big Island mayor. But Sam prefers
to think of himself as "just a local boy who made good."
"Made good" is an understatement for a four-time nominee
for the James Beard Best Pacific Regional Chef award. Sam is also
one of United Airlines culinary consultants in the company of such
superstar chefs as Norman Van Aken, Martin Yan, and Jacques Pepin.
He wrote five top-selling cookbooks published by Mutual Publishing,
a local publishing company: Cooking From the Heart with Sam Choy,
Sam Choy's Cooking, The Choy of Seafood, Sam Choy's Kitchen, Sam
Choy's Poke, Hawaii's Soul Food. In 1999, he released a national
compilation of these books, titled Sam Choy's Island Flavors (Hyperion).
Sam grew up in the small town of La’ie on the North Shore
of Oahu. He and his brother and sisters learned to cook in their
father's restaurant, the Hukilau Cafe. His Chinese father, Hung
Sam Choy, was known to make the best pot roast in the neighborhood.
Sam's Hawaiian-German mother, Clairemoana, enrolled Sam in the local
Kapiolani Community College, where he discovered that he truly loved
cooking. After honing his skills in major hotels, Sam opened his
first restaurant in 1991 on the Big Island of Hawaii. Today, Sam
Choy has eight restaurants that bear his name, including one in
Tokyo and one in Guam.
Sam's weekly cooking show, Sam Choy's Kitchen, garners high ratings
on his local NBC affiliate. When he's not filming his show or traveling
for cooking demonstrations, Sam oversees his talented team of executive
In 1999, Nation's Restaurant News named Sam one of 50 tastemakers
influencing America. Sam has also been featured on numerous cooking
shows and in national publications such as The Wall Street Journal,
Sunset Magazine, Bon Appetit, and Gourmet.
Sam summarizes his success simply. "I think of my cuisine
as a melting pot, of gathering the freshest ingredients from every
culture on these islands." He is exuberant when talking about
Hawaii, the local people, and the "aloha." "You heard
that saying, 'Lucky you live Hawaii'? I say that everyday!"
(Courtesy of Food Network)
would see him hanging out at Foodland, Sam Store, or La'ie Chevron.
When Goo Store was still in business years ago, Joe would sit next
to Goo's juke box and nod his head to the tunes.
Brother Joe was born and raised in La'ie, Hawaii and was an exceptional athlete in his time. He attended Kahuku High School and was named OIA All-Star tackle in 1966. Joe is also believed to be the first Kahuku School football player that was named to the All-State team.
Joe was a very handsome young man, but unfortunate circumstances entered his life which led to his dependency on certain drugs, and consequently his countenance and lifestyle had changed. Those who did not know Joe were afraid of him and would simply avoid him. However, Joe's appearance had absolutely nothing to do with what was in his heart. He was a gentle giant whose mission was to give us all the opportunity to love, serve and overcome our weaknesses in judgment. Joe is a La'ie icon that we will never forget.