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Maui’s Sam Ka‘ai Recognized as OHA Living Treasure

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Maui’s Sam Kaha‘ieuanalio Kaʻai was recognized on Monday by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for his expertise in carving and carrying his cultural knowledge forward. Ka’ai, who was born in Hāna and raised in Wailuku and Waiehu, was recognized as a master carver, artisan, teacher and mentor. He was among a list of master practitioners and knowledge keepers who were honored at OHA’s inaugural Nā Mamo Makamae o Ka Po‘e Hawai‘i: Living Treasures of the Hawaiian People event.

Nā Mamo Makamae o Ka Po‘e Hawai‘i: Living Treasures of the Hawaiian People. PC: Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Other honorees included:

Patience Nāmaka Bacon of O‘ahu for hula; Josephine Fergerstrom of Hawai‘i Island for lauhala weaving; Marie McDonald of Hawai‘i Island – for lei making and kapa making; and Nainoa Thompson of O‘ahu for navigating.

Two posthumous awards were also issued and went to: Elizabeth Malu‘ihi Ako Lee of Hawai‘i Island for lauhala weaving; and Abraham “Puhipau” Ahmad of Hawai‘i Island for videography, documentary.

According to OHA, the honorees were nominated and selected by a group of cultural experts and practitioners. The event is a collaboration between OHA and the PA‘I Foundation to honor kūpuna and esteemed elders.


“They are not just keepers of the flame, they are the connection and bridge to our past,” said OHA Ka Pouhana (CEO) Kamana‘opono Crabbe on the organization website. “The more we learn from our kūpuna and apply what we learn from them, the more we maintain that bond with our ancestors, our homeland, and our identity as kanaka ‘ōiwi.”


PA‘I Foundation Executive Director Victoria Holt Takamine also commented saying, “The PA‘I Foundation is pleased to provide partnership support to this important event, which aligns well with the PA‘I Foundation mission of preserving and protecting Native Hawaiian culture and arts for future generations.”

For more in-depth history on each honoree, visit the following direct LINK.

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