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Navigating Economic Realities: Insights from the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce

By Andrew Rosen, Executive Director

Our kūpuna taught us, “Na ke kanaka mahiʻai ka imu ō nui (Pukui 2239)” A well-filled imu belongs to the one who tills the soil. As we continue to rise out of the chaos of the pandemic, we take stock of all of the ways we protect, nurture and preserve waiwai, richness. We look to our ʻōiwi leaders in community, politics and business to work with us to ensure a thriving lāhui. The Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce its honorees for The 46th Annual ʻŌʻō Awards, Dr. Diane Paloma and Kahu Kenneth Makuakāne.

When not dancing or teaching hula at Ka Pā Hula O Ka Lei Lehua, Dr. Paloma divides her time between her husband and children, serving on the boards of 12 community organizations, and fulfilling her role as CEO of Hawaiʻi’s largest dental insurance provider, Hawaiʻi Dental Service. The recent Omidyar fellow and University of Hawaiʻi Regent was named one of the “20 for the next 20” by Hawaiʻi Business Magazine. Rooted in the traditions of our people, Diane’s passion for the health and wellbeing of Hawaiʻi is evident in her decades of commitment to the field and her dedication to preserving our way of life.

Kahu Kenneth Makuakāne is a household name across the paeʻāina. A renaissance man in his own right, he now leads Kawaiahaʻo Church as its Senior Pastor. Kenn is a prolific singer and songwriter with 21 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards, and is the 2015 recipient of the Hawaiʻi Academy of Recording Arts Lifetime Achievement Award. He is an accomplished entrepreneur, producing music for some of the biggest names in Hawaiian music. Kahu Makuakāne’s personal and professional lives have been dedicated to Hawaiian culture and to the caring of Hawaiʻi’s people.

This award was conceived 46 years ago, to showcase and honor Native Hawaiian business leaders that demonstrate courage, resilience and dedication to their craft and the people of Hawaiʻi.  These ʻōiwi leaders are reminders that Hawaiian culture and values continue to be important pillars for how we do business and what we pass on to the next generation of leaders.