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Kalaheo group honors kupuna

Regency at Puakea resident Ora Tashiro was concerned about the annual New Year meeting of the Kukuiolono Community Association Friday as she watched Boy Scout Eagle candidate Shayn Shibuya and his helpers unload the planter boxes.

“I’m getting my delivery at 12:15 p.m.,” said Tashiro, who was an avid participant of the association’s monthly events prior to moving to Regency. “I was wondering if they were going to do anything because of the pandemic. This month is when the Kukuiolono Community Association usually holds its New Year’s get-together.”

Tashiro was one of three recipients of bento meals delivered to the Regency by Joyce Takahashi Saturday, Takahashi making the rounds of delivering lunches to association members in care homes.

“Due to the pandemic still going on, we will be doing the same lunch distribution for our annual mahalo kupuna (and) annual meeting at Kaua‘i Kookie here in Kalaheo,” said Dan Momohara.

“We have about 40 kupuna in our community who are 80 years and older that we will be honoring with this lunch, as we have done each year. This is also our annual meeting where members vote on a new slate of officers and board members. All of the current people have decided to carry on their duties from the previous years.”

Aster Tateishi sat quietly in a corner of the room where association board members and volunteers anxiously waited for the arrival of food from the Hanapepe kitchens to assemble the 140 lunches that would be distributed in a drive-thru (with face masks and social distancing) distribution facilitated by Momohara, Francis Takahashi and Larry Marugame, who “lives just up the street.”

“We have five generations here,” said Laurie Tateishi, one of the helpers assembling the bento that was accompanied by a small token of appreciation to all 40 of the kupuna.

“This is not as big as their stimulus checks, but just to show our appreciation and gratitude for their community status as our mentors and living treasures,” Momohara said.

“The mahalo kupuna luncheon honors our original pioneering ancestors and grandparents who made the sacrifice of leaving home in Japan to find a new life in Hawai‘i, here on Kaua‘i,” he said.

Many made the journey with another pandemic running rampant in the world, the Spanish flu.

“On top of the devastation wreaking havoc with the flu, the bubonic plague also made its way to our shores on merchant ships coming in from the Orient,” Momohara said.

“Working in the sugar plantations was overwhelming for our ancestors living in cramped and crowded living conditions, and a back-breaking work ethic of long hours and minimal to no accommodations for health and safety,” he said.

”They survived this trying lifestyle to give us all a better life. We celebrate and honor their sacrifices each year, putting our kupuna on a pedestal of recognition they so well deserve. I’m sure in their minds, while enduring the toils of hard labor, they were doing it for the sake of their children, and their children’s children, (or) kodomo no tame ni (“for the sake of the children”),” he said.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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