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Danny Kaopuiki's

Kama`aina Profile

October 2004

Larry Kamahele

Take a kanaka `opio (young man) from Keaukaha on the Big Island…educate him at the Hawaiian Mission Academy in Honolulu…fly him across the sea to Seattle, Washington where he excels academically, earning honors and a degree in micro-biology from the University of Washington…meld a huge, melodic, romantic baritone voice with tall, handsome Hawaiian features…instill in him a driving desire to perpetuate all things Hawaiian (mele/song; mo`olelo/stories; hula/dance; `olelo/language)… combine these factors and you know what you get? A guy who has been one of the most significant contributors to the well-being of the Northwest Hawaiian community that we are all now a part of!

His name is Lawrence McCully Kamahele, one of the primary founders of the Wakinikona Hawaiian Club (WHC)! Larry says WHC was created in 1962 because back in the early 1960s, a lot of seamen and longshoremen migrated from Hawai`i to work the Seattle waterfront and they were lonely, longing for a club where they could gather and socialize in their Hawaiian ways. The WHC evolved into a family-oriented organization with a mission to teach, practice and preserve Hawaiian culture. The WHC is still Larry’s pride and joy and he remains an active participant in the club!

Larry Kamahele lives in Edmonds, Washington with his lovely wife Wanda! To visit his home is to enter a refuge of Hawaiiana. Larry has stacks upon stacks of Hawaiian literature including some very old, Wanda & Larry Kamaheleoriginal, valuable and fascinating books about Hawai`i and a huge library of Hawaiian music and a glassed-in atrium where Larry proudly nurtures several plants of Hawai`i (coconut, banana, wild ginger, dry land taro etc.) His home is indeed a treasure trove of Hawaiiana! Larry’s primary interests are Hawaiian history and culture and he is today considered by many to be an authority on things Hawaiian (he has been an advisor to the Burke Museum and a lecturer on Hawaiian culture at the University of Washington .) Larry still has his beautiful singing voice but now only sings on special occasions.

Larry’s genealogy is extremely interesting. While many of us are happy to claim a tie to just one Ali`i (member of Hawai`i ’s ruling groups during the Hawaiian Monarchy,) Larry can claim ties to THREE Ali`i families (Ma`uhili; Kuamo`o; Kamahele.) A grandfather was a descendant of Keawema`uhili (a chief of the Hilo and Hāmākua districts.) A grandmother was a descendant of Kuamo`o Ka`oanaeha, niece of Kamehameha the First. Larry’s father was born a Kuamo`o but back in the “old days,” a custom of the Hawaiian culture was for families to hānai (adopt) children from within their family groups and Larry’s Dad was adopted by Moki Kamahele, whose ancestry included Chief Kamahele of the land district Kahuwai in Puna. Thus, Larry was born into the Kamahele family.

Larry retired from the Seattle-King County Public Health Department in 1988 after thirty years of service. Later in 1988, Larry became co-founder and CEO of an asbestos removal company with offices in Seattle and Nānākuli; he retired from that business in 1996. Larry also served in the US Army for two years during the Korean Conflict.

Larry is currently Deputy Director of NAPALI (National Pacific American Leadership Institute) a non-profit organization established to enhance the well-being of people of the Pacific. NAPALI trains young Pacific Islander leaders at annual “Leadership Forums,” from which these young leaders (ages have ranged from 28 to 48) go back and use their new skills to help their respective cultures. Students over the past five years have come from the Hawaiian, Samoan, Fijian, Tahitian, Micronesian, Tongan, Maori, and Chamorro cultures; this year’s group will include the first ever student from Saipan. Larry is very proud of the early success of the program!

Mahalo Larry Kamahele…for helping perpetuate the spirit of Aloha up here in the Great Northwest as well as throughout the Pacific!

Auwē, it’s time to go…until we meet again, be kind to each other…me ke Aloha pumehana kākou (with warmest wishes to all)…a hui hou.......Danny


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