I’m a Lana`i guy…born in the little village of Keomoku on the north/windward side and growing up in the slightly larger Kaumalapau Harbor village on the west side. Both villages are now gone, laughter and voices silenced with the passage of time; wooden frame houses with tin roofs reduced to dust and debris. One reason for my interest in writing for the NW Hawai`i Times is that writing is one way of preserving our Pacific NW version of the Hawaiian culture which might otherwise, like my home villages, also disappear into history. A year ago, I mentioned that there are over 40,000 of us Hawaiian Islanders living in this area of the world, all the real life stories waiting to be told! I take great joy in telling these stories through the NW Hawai`i Times.
I’ve been blessed with a good life, enjoying the love of a great family (wife Kathy, daughters Kerry and Shannon Malia/her husband Cory, sons Kapena, Dean, Darin and Dave) and the friendships of so many. I had the honor of being the first student from Lana`i selected to attend the Kamehameha Schools. After high school, I had two challenging and rewarding professional careers. My military career spanned twenty-two years during which I saw a lot of the United States , Europe and the Far East (including two combat tours in Vietnam ). I spent the subsequent twenty-four years as Facilities Services Manager at the King County Juvenile Detention Center . I had retired from the US Army as an Infantry officer, and was used to getting military salutes and “Yes Sir/No Sir” responses. This made my career working with troubled youth at King County “Juvey” enlightening to say the least (“Sir” was not part of their language and their salute was something called the “bird”). I enjoyed both my careers immensely.
I met my wife Kathy during my first tour in ‘Nam.
Kathy was working for the US government’s Agency for International Development in Saigon . Kathy is from Boise , Idaho and we were married here in Seattle in 1971 between my two 'Nam tours and eventually settled here as kind of a half way point between Hawai`i and Boise.
I’ve spent the past few years being actively involved with various Hawaiian community activities (Wakinikona Hawaiian Club Vice President/Trustee/member; Kamehameha Alumni Treasurer/Executive Board; Kau Inoa Registry coordinator; NW Hawai`i Times reporter; professional Hawaiian musician) plus doing my fun things (golfing and fishing).
Like many of you, I miss the Hawai`i I grew up in…but I know that Hawai`i has changed/is changing still and that the Hawai`i I remember, like my villages of Keomoku and Kaumalapau, no longer exist except in my dreams…but our culture lives on. I love our Hawaiian culture and truly care about those who share that love with me. For me, our culture is not limited by the circumstance of ethnicity nor by place of birth nor by “what school you went?” For what really makes us “Hawaiian” is the spirit of Aloha that we live by and perpetuate. If I can’t enjoy the warmth of sun and surf and sea back in Hawai`i, I can’t think of a better place to be than with all of you up here in our Pacific Northwest Hawaiian community where Aloha is alive and well!
Mahalo for letting me be a part of your lives and for allowing me to tell your stories…me ke Aloha pumehana…Danny Kaopuiki
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