Seven New Living Treasures


Mini biographies provided by Kaua`i Museum

Seven people whose long service to the community continues to help and inspire the people of Kaua`i and Niihau will be honored as Kaua`i Museum Living Treasures by the Kaua`i Museum at a gala event to be held July 14 at the Kaua`i Marriott Resort & Beach Club.

It’s an honor to be selected, and a rich experience for those who will attend in honor of the chosen. Kupuna usually each have a table with memorabilia and other blasts from their pasts beckoning the curious.

It’s a time for choke lei and congratulations — but instead of the fresh-faced high school or college seniors graduating with youthful expectation and heaps of lei to the nose, this time, it’s a different set of seniors. And their faces belong to those who have already gone forth, met challenges and made something of their lives.

Selecting Kaua`i Living Treasures begins with recommendations, continues through screenings at various levels and culminates in invitations to the persons selected to join the ranks.

“We call them living treasures because they have enriched the lives of so many on our islands with their tireless work, becoming role models for future generations who want to have a positive influence on our communities,” Kaua`i Museum Director Jane Gray said in a news release. She continued, “They are the heart and soul of our islands, and we invite the community to join us in celebrating their achievements.”

In brief, here is a list of the new living treasures in alphabetical order, their area of expertise and a glimpse at some of their accomplishments.

Dr. Ramon De La Pena, honored for Excellence in Agriculture, is an agronomist, professor emeritus and member of the Board of Regents at the University of Hawai`i. He is a leading expert on taro production, having produced more than 85 scientific papers on tropical agriculture at the UH Kaua`i Extension Service station from 1967 until 2001. A former member of the Kaua`i County Planning Commission, De La Pena has also mentored numerous high school students in service to future generations. He is an active member of the Kaua`i Filipino Chamber of Commerce.

Tutu “Mama” Ane Hi`ilani Kelley Kanahele, honored for Excellence in Hawaiian Culture and Language, is one of our most prolific composers of himeni, or Hawaiian hymns. Born and raised on Pu1uwai Ni1ihau in 1936, she is the matriarch of the Kanahele ‘Ohana, with eight children, 20 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. Mama Ane, as she is called, is now a minister at Waimea Hawaiian Church after having recently retired from Ke Kula Niihau O Kekaha as a kumu who perpetuates Hawaiian language and culture.

Ezra Reuben Kanoho, honored for Excellence in Public Service, was a state representative for the 15th District of Kaua`i and Niihau from 1986 until 2006, during which time he helped increase funding for the schools, public buildings, the airport, harbor and hospitals. He is the former president of the Kaua`i Chamber of Commerce, Kaua`i Rotary Club and American Society of Safety Engineers, and the former director of the Kaua`i Economic Development Board and Hawai`i Visitors Bureau-Kaua`i.

Tad Miura, Sr., honored for Excellence in Public Service, is an award-winning business owner and Realtor who has long volunteered his expertise and hard work to the communities of Kaua`i and Niihau. Born in 1929 and raised in Kapa`a, Tad was the administrative assistant to Mayor Antone Kona Vidinha, Jr., served as the County Clerk from 1973-1979 and is a Realtor at Kauai Realty Inc. He has served as the president of the Kapa`a Businessmen’s Association and the Kapa`a High School PTA, as well as been a member of the Hawai`i Housing Authority Commission and the Wilcox Hospital Board.

David Pratt, honored for Excellence in Public Service, is a philanthropist and the former president and CEO of Grove Farm Co. for 25 years. He has worked to improve education and quality of life through his service on boards of numerous organizations. In 1984, he co-founded the Kaua`i Economic Development Board, later serving as its president and director. This past director of the University of Hawai`i Foundation also served on the board of Wilcox Hospital for more than a decade, including time as chairman. In addition to serving as board president of Island School from 1997 through 2009, he remains an active member of the board of directors.

Julia Chandler Sueoka, honored for Excellence in the Art of Lei Making, is an acknowledged master lei maker and floral designer. As a child, this nonagenarian would gather flowers from her yard in Kekaha and from her favorite place, Koke`e, to make lei of all sorts — akulikuli, mailelauli`ili`i and mokihana, to mention a few. A multiple grand-prize winner for her lei both through institutions here and in Honolulu, you may still find her picking maile and lehua papa in Koke`e. She continues promoting the history, culture and art of lei making, thereby enriching our lives. Kupuna Julia has been part of the Kaua`i Museum Lei Day contest from its early days.

Thomas Ho`ohie Takahashi, honored for Excellence as a Hawaiian Spiritual Practitioner, was born in 1928 on the island of Niihau. Known also as Bishop Takahashi and Papa Takahashi, he is a respected Hawaiian spiritual healer and practitioner. People from Hawai`i and abroad seek his guidance, prayers and blessings. He blessed the county’s buses, giving each a name. Papa Takahashi’s life is committed to doing the will of Akua in service as a spiritual leader and he is an inspiration to the community.

About the Gala

What: Seven new Kaua`i Museum designated Living Treasures will be honored.

When & Where: Saturday, July 14 from 11 a.m. to  2 p.m., Kaua`i Marriott Resort & Beach Club

How Much: $50/person. Tickets available at museum; reservations available by phone or email.

Contact: 808-245-6931;