KARII! . . . CONGRATULATIONS!

Julia Wakasugi and Kristie Morikawa have been awarded the Joseph and Sumie Kaneshiro Bishop Scholarship for students of Okinawan ancestry. The presentation was made on May 4 at the University of Hawai`i College of Education annual recognition dinner at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. The two students were selected because of their outstanding academic record.

Wakasugi is a UH-Manoa senior majoring in elementary and special education. She and her twin sister Lisa study Okinawan dance with Yoshiko Nakasone Sensei, sanshin with Grant Murata Sensei and koto with Bonnie Miyashiro Sensei. Their parents, Thad and Yoko Wakasugi of Pearl City, are members of Gaza Yonagusuku and Nishihara Chojin Kai.

Kristie Morikawa earned her bachelor’s degree in English and is currently working on her master’s in education, with her goal to become an English teacher. Morikawa is the daughter of Steven and Suzanne Morikawa of Kaneohe. An avid athlete, she has been coordinating junior varsity basketball and softball at her alma mater, Moanalua High School.

Lanai’s post office building will be named in honor of retired Maui County Councilmember and an Uchinanchu who has served his community well — Goro Hokama of Lanai. The legislation to name Lanai’s only post office after Hokama was introduced by U.S. Congresswoman Patsy Mink. The bill passed both houses of Congress unanimously and was signed into law by President Bush on April 12. The formal dedication of the “Goro Hokama Post Office Building” on Jacaranda Street in Lanai City will take place on Aug. 13.

Mink cited Hokama’s dedication to the communities of Lanai and Maui and to the state of Hawaii. He served 41 years on the Maui County Council and its forerunner, the Maui Board of Supervisors — 16 of those years as its chair. He was also a member of the Hawaii State Association of Counties, serving 11 terms as its president. In 1999, Goro Hokama was appointed to the State Public Employees Appeal Board.

He has served as president of the Lanai School PTA and the Lanai Little League, as a volunteer firefighter on Lanai, and as a member of the Lanai Advisory Planning Commission. Hokama is also a member of the Maui Okinawa Kenjin Kai and actively supported the building of the Maui Okinawa Cultural Center. He currently chairs the Maui County Hospital Management Advisory Committee and serves on the boards of Lanai Community Hospital, Maui Economic Opportunities, Inc. and Maui Memorial Hospital.

Hokama retired from Dole Pineapple Company in 1991 after 45 years. He also represented workers on Lanai as a member of the ILWU.

Hokama and his wife, Kiwae, are the parents of two adult children: son Riki and daughter Joy. Riki Hokama presently serves on the Maui County Council.

“Goro Hokama has given himself, his time, and his life to our community and to our State . . . . The naming of the Lanai Post Office as the Goro Hokama Post Office would be a way to honor and pay tribute to a great public servant,” said Congresswoman Mink.

The voices of Maui Okinawa Kenjin Kai members Hirotada and Umeno Toyama and Jun Cup Choy are featured on “Da Kine Music,” a compact disc produced by Hawaii’s Plantation Village (Waipahu Cultural Garden Park) and the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. The Toyamas and Cup Choy sing five Okinawan songs: “Tutankani,” complete with the lines, “. . . too much hanahana, one dollar day;” “Ashimiji Bushi;” “Kudaka;” “Mimura;” and “Suri Agari.” The recording is simple and earthy with very basic instrumentation: sanshin (by Paul Shoei Moriyama) and whistle heeshi (a vocal accentuation). The recording is a treasure for its ability to capture the early plantation days when the celebrations were simple and music was performed with the spirit of “let’s celebrate with whatever we have.”

Recording artist Glenn Medeiros served as project’s coordinator, with University of Hawai`i ethnomusicologist Dr. Ricardo Trimillos contributing as project consultant. The beautiful cover artwork was done by Delro Rosco.

“Da Kine Music” celebrates Hawaii’s plantation heritage. The first recording features Hawaiian, Okinawan, Puerto Rican and Filipino tunes. The second edition, set for release later this month, will feature Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Portuguese songs. Assisting with the Okinawan recording were longtime Waipahu resident Goro Arakawa, a member of Nishihara Chojin Kai; Irene Ho; and Maui Okinawa Kenjin Kai member Hideo Goya. “Da Kine Music” can be purchased at Hawaii’s Plantation Village for $14.

Located in historic Waipahu, just ewa of the now defunct Oahu Sugar Company, Hawaii’s Plantation Village is dedicated to keeping alive the experiences of the Hawaii, Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese, Puerto Rican, Okinawan, Korean and Filipino laborers who worked on Hawaii’s plantations. For more information on “Da Kine Music,” call Hawaii’s Plantation Village at 677-0110.