Star Advertiser: 4 Living Treasures of Hawaii to be honored

(Source: Star Advertiser)

January 22, 2019

By: Pat Gee

(l-r) John M. Hara, Earl Kawa’a, Gertrude Yukie Tsutsumi, and James “Jimmy” T. Yagi.

Four individuals named as this year’s Living Treasures of Hawaii include a pioneer of environmental architecture, a practitioner of the Hawaiian culture, a master teacher of Japanese classical dance and a legendary coach.

John M. Hara, Earl Kawa‘a, Gertrude Yukie Tsutsumi and James “Jimmy” T. Yagi will be honored at the 44th Living Treasures of Hawaii Recognition Program and Gala Luncheon at 11 a.m. Feb. 9 in the Coral Ballroom at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort.

The “Living Treasures of Hawaii” program was created by the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii in 1976 to honor those who demonstrate excellent standards of achievement and continue to make a significant contribution to society, a press release said.

The deadline to register is Feb. 2 at Early registration is $75 by Sunday; then the cost increases to $90. Call 522-9200.

John M. Hara

For more than four decades, Hara has designed over 65 public buildings that are culturally sensitive and environmentally conscientious. His clients include the Honolulu Museum of Art, University of Hawaii at Manoa and West Oahu, and major private schools. Since 1974 his buildings have won over 55 “Excellence in Architecture” and other design industry awards.

His Case Middle School on the Punahou campus was the first major certified “green” project in Hawaii, attaining Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. In 2006 Hara was the first architect ever awarded the prestigious Governor’s Award for Distinguished Achievement in Culture, Arts, and Humanities from the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.

Hara is also a teacher and mentor to UH students, and a board member of a number of community organizations.

Earl Kawa‘a

Born and raised in Halawa, Molokai, Kawa‘a has been a consummate teacher of the Hawaiian culture and its emphasis on family resiliency and sustainability through various methods. His mission has been to preserve Native traditions and values, mainly by holding classes on carving poi boards and stone pounders, and pounding poi over the last 10 years.

He has been a social worker, community organizer and peacemaker, recognized for his skills in hooponopono, or conflict resolution. A Kamehameha Schools curriculum specialist, Kawa‘a has been an instrumental volunteer for several nonprofit Hawaiian organizations, including Hui Malama o ke Kai, a youth development group in Maunawili Valley.

Internationally, he became a spiritual leader of the Daisen project, a cultural and economic exchange program between young leaders of Hawaii and Daisen city of Tottori prefecture in Japan.

Gertrude Yukie Tsutsumi

For more than five decades, Tsutsumi has been committed to perpetuating the Japanese art of Nihon Buyo, a dance form that developed in the 17th century with roots in Kabuki and Noh. Her lifetime of dancing started at the age of 8.

In 1953 she was bestowed the “natori” (professional name) of Onoe Kikunobu, and nine years later opened the Kikunobu Dance Company in Honolulu. Tsutsumi stresses the importance of building self-confidence and camaraderie as a strong foundation for dance performance and life skills. As of 2014, 13 students under her tutelage had been recognized with professional names.

Tsutsumi also taught through the state Department of Education and UH Manoa until her retirement in 2014. She continues to teach through her school, which performs across the state and the country.

In 2015 Tsutsumi received the National Endowment for the Arts’ most prestigious honor, the National Heritage Fellowship.

James “Jimmy” T. Yagi

In his 60 years of teaching basketball, Yagi has earned numerous awards and honors, but his greatest accomplishment has been his reputation of bringing out the best qualities in those he coaches.

Yagi was the first collegiate Japanese-American head coach in his 18-year tenure at UH Hilo, leading the Vulcans men’s basketball team to three district title wins and playing in three National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) championships. He remains the winningest men’s basketball coach in UH-Hilo history, amassing 250 wins. He has won an NAIA District II Coach of the Year award and is a member of the UH-Hilo Athletic Hall of Fame.

His greatest legacy may be the development of youth basketball camps and clinics across the state for over 40 years, with emphasis on playing the game the right way and with respect towards others. At age 83 he recently led the 43rd Annual Jimmy Yagi Hoops Camp in Hilo, and has established a UH-Hilo scholarship program.

Via: Star Advertiser

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