University of Hawaii 2006 "Stars of Oceania" event to honor Pacific Islanders who have enriched Hawaii with their contributions

Proceeds from the event will go towards scholarships for UH Pacific Islands scholars

University of Hawaiʻi
Dorothy Chen, (808) 956-2495
Pacific Business Center Program
Kristen Bonilla, (808) 956-5039
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Nov 3, 2006

HONOLULU — Ten individuals of Pacific Islands ancestry will be honored for their stellar contributions to the state of Hawaiʻi, their leadership in perpetuating traditional Pacific Islands culture and values, and their service to the community at "Stars of Oceania," an inaugural recognition dinner and scholarship fundraiser, on November 14 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Four prestigious awards will be presented that evening. Honored with the Shining Stars award, which is given to individuals or organizations who are pioneers in their fields, are Kalo Mataele Soukop, producer and director of Kalo South Seas Village Revue for the past 35 years, and Tihati "Jack" and Cha Thompson, owners of Tihati Productions. Presented with the Rising Star award, which is given to a young community and professional leader who serves as a role model to Pacific Islands youth, is Lubuw Falanruw, a native of the Micronesian island of Yap and CEO and president of Digital Mediums, a Honolulu-based interactive software development company.

Four individuals have been selected to receive the Guiding Star award, which honors cultural leaders who perpetuate traditional Pacific Islands culture and values. They are Mau Piailug, a native Micronesian who was instrumental in resurrecting traditional navigation skills for the Hawaiian people; Tuione Pulotu, a master traditional canoe carver from Tonga; Pulefano Galeaʻi, a native of American Samoa and a powerful advocate for traditional values in community development; and Kupuna Auntie Malia Craver, a "Living Treasure of Hawaiʻi" honoree and cultural consultant noted for her peacemaking efforts and promotion of traditional healing practices.

The Stellar Navigator award, which honors individuals who represent the synthesis of the Pacific Islands and Hawaiʻi, will be presented to Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, a Kalihi-raised Harvard University graduate and Fulbright Scholar who has served under four U.S. presidents, and Polynesian Voyaging Society President Nainoa Thompson, the first Hawaiian to practice the art of wayfinding on long distance ocean voyages since such voyaging ended in Hawaiʻi about 600 years ago.

UH Board of Regents Chair Kitty Lagareta and UH President David McClain are honorary co-chairs for the event. Al Harrington, popular entertainer and American Samoa native, will serve as Master of Ceremonies, and entertainment will be provided by Tihati Productions.

Funds raised from the event will be used to establish a scholarship for University of Hawaiʻi students who are from the Pacific Islands or are participating in work that benefits the Pacific Islands. Due to overwhelming response, the event is sold out, but donations to the scholarship fund for Pacific Islands students will continue to be accepted. For more information on making a donation, contact the Pacific Business Center Program at UH Mānoa at (808) 956-2495 or email

This inaugural UH event is sponsored by Pacific Magazine, Tihati Productions, Kalo South Seas Travel & Tour, Bank of Hawaiʻi, Pacific Islanders in Communications and Pacific American Foundation.

Brief bios of all the award honorees follow.



  • Kalo Mataele Soukop is the CEO/President of Kalo South Seas Travel, a special associate and relative to the Royal Family of the Kingdom of Tonga, and a civic leader for the Tongan and Hawaiian communities. In 1991, Soukop became the first woman and first Polynesian to be named to the Board of Directors of the Polynesian Cultural Center. She is also the founder and CEO of the Tongan Cultural Society.

  • Tihati "Jack" and Cha Thompson are the co-founders and owners of Tihati Productions, a local company started in 1969 that has grown to nearly 1,000 employees statewide with 18 major productions around the state and Japan, and more than 50 lounge acts, making it the largest and longest running entertainment company in the state. Tihati Productions has been invited to perform in China for the 2008 Summer Olympics.

  • Lubuw Falanruw is a native of the Micronesian island of Yap and a graduate of UH Mānoa. He founded Digital Mediums at the age of 25, and has served more than 100 clients from Hawaiʻi and the Pacific since its establishment in 2000. The company was recognized as the second-fastest growing company in Hawaiʻi by Pacific Business News in 2004, and he has received many individual awards, including the 2003 Small Business Association Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

  • Mau Piailug, from the Micronesian island of Satawal in Yap State of the Federated States of Micronesia, was the first navigator of the Hokuleʻa. He guided it 2,300 miles to Tahiti in 1976, completing the first voyage on an ancestral Polynesian sea route without the use of navigation instruments in over 600 years. His success inspired a renaissance of voyaging, canoe building, non-instrument navigation and cultural pride for Hawaiians and Polynesians that has continued to spread across the Pacific.

  • Tuione Pulotu is a master traditional canoe carver who has been honored as a "Living Treasure of Hawaiʻi" for his contributions in perpetuating the traditions, spirit and values of Hawaiʻi through Polynesian carving and craftsmanship. Born in Tonga, he came to Hawaiʻi over 40 years ago as a labor missionary to help build the second phase of the Church College of Hawaiʻi and the Polynesian Cultural Center. Many of the tiki and other carvings at the center are examples of his work, and he has built several canoes, including a 105-foot sailing canoe for King Taufaʻahau Tupou IV of Tonga, launched in 2000.

  • Pulefano Galeaʻi is a world champion fire knife dancer who personifies the importance of family as the core of Pacific Islands culture and the basis of Pacific Islands identity. He is the cultural artistic director at the Polynesian Cultural Center, and encourages the use of traditional knowledge rooted in family values and cultural skills as models for community development and security. A native of American Samoa, he uses this cultural knowledge as the cornerstone of his efforts to promote these issues among Pacific Islands immigrants to Hawaiʻi, many of whom have little formal education.

  • Kupuna Auntie Malia Craver has been honored as a "Living Treasure of Hawaiʻi" for her dedication to the Hawaiian culture and the spirit of aloha. A social work assistant with Queen Liliʻuokalani Children‘s Center for 30 years, she is a soft-spoken kupuna who often guides emotionally fractured families to reconciliation using the Hawaiian practice of hoʻoponopono. In 2000, she addressed the 53rd Annual U.N. Conference of Non-Government Organizations where she received a standing ovation.

  • Muliufi Francis Hannemann is the sixth of seven children of Samoan immigrants Gustav and Faison Hannemann, and the 12th mayor of the City and County of Honolulu, the 13th largest municipality in the United States. Hannemann is the founder of the Pacific Century Fellows, modeled after the White House Fellows program, and volunteers with various non-profit organizations. Following an illustrious career in business, government, and politics, he took office on January 2, 2005, Honolulu‘s first native-born mayor in almost 40 years.

  • Nainoa Thompson, navigator and crewmember of the Hokuleʻa, has for more than 25 years helped to inspire a revival of traditional arts associated with long-distance ocean voyaging in Hawaiʻi and throughout Polynesia. He developed a system of wayfinding, or non-instrument navigation, synthesizing traditional principles of ancient Pacific navigation and modern scientific knowledge. Thompson is president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, a Kamehameha Schools trustee, and serves as special advisor on Hawaiian affairs to UH President David McClain. He is a graduate of Punahou School and UH Mānoa.