Maui News

2019 Hui Holomua Biz Fest: The Business of STEM

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The Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce’s 13th Annual Hui Holomua Business Fest, takes place tomorrow, Wednesday, Oct. 23, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the King Kamehameha Golf Club in Waikapū. Organizers say registration for the event opened in September and the event this year, as in years’ past, is sold out.

The annual Hui Holomua Biz Fest offers a full day of expert speakers, panel discussions and networking along with an expo of locally-owned businesses.

This year’s theme is The Business of STEM: Nana i ka maka, Hoʻolohe ka pepeiau, Paʻa ka waha, Hana ka lima: Observe, Listen, Reflect and Create. (STEM refers to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.)

“Many people associate STEM with education and curriculum,” said new MNHCoC president, Frank De Rego, Jr., “but STEM’s practical impacts go far beyond that, cutting across all business sectors. This has implications for our future workforce development as higher waged STEM careers can help to reduce Hawaii’s dependence on its service-based economy.”


Keynote speaker Kaʻiu Kimura, executive director of the ʻImiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo, will explain her organization’s elegant blend of Hawaiian culture and science to advance a common vision for the future, bringing the cultural and natural history of Maunakea to students, teachers, local residents, and visitors from around the world. ‘Imiloa links to early Polynesian navigation history and knowledge of the night skies, and today’s renaissance of Hawaiian culture and wayfinding with parallel growth of astronomy and scientific developments on Hawaii Island. In January, she delivered the keynote address to an audience of 2,000 at the 223rd Meeting of the American Astronomical Society, held in Seattle, WA.

Kumu Ramsay Mahealani Taum, founder and president of the Oʻahu-based Life Enhancement Institute (LEI) of the Pacific, LLC will deliver opening remarks on the inseparable ties between Hawaiian culture and science.

Kumu Taum will be followed by Tiare Martin, program manager at the Maui High-Performance Computing Center in Kihei, who will explore the connection of gender and culture in the business of STEM. As a woman in STEM, she is committed to being a mentor and role model for aspiring women. As a native Hawaiian, she sees the importance of Hawaiian values to ground technology innovation. Martin is an alumna of Kamehameha Schools, Kapālama. She graduated as a merit scholar from the University of San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. In 2016, she was honored as a member of Pacific Business News’ “Forty Under 40 “ for her outstanding achievements as a young leader.


Omar Sultan, co-founder and managing partner of Sultan Ventures in Honolulu will moderate the first panel of the day, “STEM Entrepreneurism & Investment.” Panelists include Donovan Kealoha, a director of Startup Capital Ventures with offices in Honolulu and Silicon Valley. Additional panelists will be announced later.

Following lunch, the focus will turn to Hawaiʻi’s emerging generation of STEM professionals. The “Millenial Maoli in Tech” panel will feature four Kamehameha Schools graduates from the class of 2012 who have successfully entered STEM careers. Panelists include Honolulu electrical engineer Trey Fernandez; Stanford University Ph.D. candidate in computer engineering, Makai Mann; Apple mechanical quality engineer, Michael Gorman; and Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope thermal systems engineer Brialyn Onodera.

Representatives of Generation Z will follow with a presentation by members of the Molokaʻi High School Robotics Team, the unlikely winners of the Hopper-Turing Division Rookie Inspiration Award at the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) national Robotics Championship held in Houston, Texas this past April. Their teacher and advisor Edwin Mendija will serve as moderator.


Dr. Noa Kekuewa Lincoln, Ph.D., assistant professor of Indigenous Crops and Cropping Systems at UH Mānoa will close the day’s presentations. Kamaʻāina (native-born) to Kealakekua on Hawaiʻi Island, he grew up with unique training by Hawaiian elders in ethnobotany and traditional management methods for land and ocean resources. Dr. Lincoln is a graduate of Kamehameha School Kapālama, Yale University and Stanford University where he earned his Ph.D. in Biogeochemistry and Social Ecology. He has worked and studied across the Pacific Rim in California, Costa Rica, Brazil, and throughout Polynesia.

Former Hawaiʻi state senator and noted entertainer, Brickwood Galuteria will serve as Master of Ceremonies for the day. In between sessions, attendees may visit the BIz Expo, featuring MNHCoC member companies managed with traditional Hawaiian values. This year’s popular Chinese Auction will benefit the Makahiki Athletic Association (MAʻA) in support of their mission to bridge the educational and social gaps facing Hawaiʻi’s youth through cultural sports development and friendly competition. The conference will close a no-host reception featuring the music of Na Kane o Kaʻa.

The founders of MNHCoC created the Hui Holomua Biz Fest to explore important issues for business owners and managers who strive to incorporate Hawaiian values into their operations. Since its inception in 2006, the annual conference has grown to become Maui’s most important forum for exploration of the intersection between Hawaiian culture and modern business. Biz Fest sponsors underwrite scholarships for 50 Maui High School students to hear the speakers and learn networking skills from attendees.

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