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A Reflection on Two Legends


A web exclusive

Kahauanu Lake (sitting) was the leader of the Kahauanu Lake Trio that consisted of his late brother Tommy (left) and Al Machida (right), the last surviving member of the group.

In the past few days, Hawaii has lost two legends, Kahauanu Lake and Herb Kawainui Kane. Lake, also known as Uncle “K,” was the leader of the Kahauanu Lake Trio and contributed to the renaissance of Hawaiian music during the statehood years from the ’50s to ’70s. We included him in our June 2004 piece “The Fifty Greatest Hawaii Albums of All Time”:

Although Kahauanu Lake played a mean left-handed ukulele, he chose to strum rather than pluck, even when playing rhythm. Studying under Hawaiian authority Mary Kawena Pukui, Lake insisted on accurate pronunciation of Hawaiian words.

“The Trio offered an alternative to the backyard style of Gabby,” says panelist Robert Cazimero. “They added a sophisticated kind of elegance that brought along with it the hula, and the marriage was so sublime.”


We last wrote about Herb Kane, notable artist, historian and one of the founders of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, in “Kane’s Revenge.” After thieves had walked off with a 34-year old mural in 2005, he re-created it. Read about it here. We have also had the privilege of having Kane write for our publication in the ‘70s and ‘80s. In fact, he wrote six features.

An excerpt from our November 1983 issue, “The Woman of the Canoe,” by Herb Kawainui Kane:

Photo: David Croxford

Ask a hundred people who have sailed on Hokulea about their experiences and you’ll get a hundred different stories. Some will tell of the difficulties of the 1976 voyage to Tahiti. Others remember the smooth return voyage and the triumphant arrival in Honolulu. Some will recall the capsize off Molokai and the tragic loss of Eddie Aikau. Or the skillfully executed round trip to Tahiti in 1980 led by Gordon Piianaia and navigated by Nainoa Thompson. But each story will be a unique account of a deeply personal experience. Each participant came with expectations, and each was gratified or disillusioned by the reality of serving and sailing a replica of an ancient double-hulled voyaging canoe.

My own thoughts go back to the beginning; to the designing, funding and building of the canoe; to its launching, and the first shakedown and training cruise throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Thinking about that time, I remember Aunty Clara.


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Honolulu Magazine January 2018
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