Thursday | August 17, 2017
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Hamakua Community Forum on Youth meets on Tuesday

By Carol Yurth

The newly formed Hamakua Community Forum on Youth meets Thursday, Jan. 17, at 6:30 p.m. at the North Hawaii Education and Research Center to continue its efforts to create solutions to challenges facing local youth and their families.

Co-sponsored by the Hamakua Youth Foundation and the North Hawaii Drug Free Coalition, The Third Thursday Thrive Group will host the gathering as part of its ongoing efforts to stimulate community involvement and volunteerism. The Jan. 17 meeting is the second round of a long-term process to create a locally focused, grassroots effort to discuss the challenges facing Hamakua area youth.

The goal will be to develop a communication network that includes people from youth serving organizations, schools, health and education, youth representatives and like-minded people in the community.

The first meeting of the forum was held on Nov. 16, with 50 adults and youths representing a cross section of the community attending that included Honokaa High and Intermediate School, the Hamakua Youth Foundation/Hamakua Youth Center, Hamakua Health Center, Hawaii Island Boys and Girls Club and North Hawaii Drug Free Coalition. Also attending were state Sen. Malama Solomon, newly elected County Council members Val Poindexter and Margaret Wille and County Prosecutor Mitch Roth, all who strongly support community involvement in finding solutions to solving our challenges.

January’s meeting agenda begins with a brief summary of topics discussed in November. Special emphasis at this meeting is on the organization of a communication and networking organizational plan and exploring collaborative ways to secure much needed funding from public and private sector sources.

Anyone interested in providing the best possible youth support services for our community is encouraged to attend. You can call Joel Cohen at 769-4490 for more information.


Hawaii Preparatory Academy in Waimea, in partnership with Bee Love Apiaries, The Kohala Center, Kohala Mountain Farm, and Slow Food Hawaii, will host a bee education program at the Gates Performing Arts Center on the HPA campus, from 6 to 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 25.

The free event will include tastings of locally farmed honey, a panel discussion and screening of the award-winning film “Queen of the Sun – What are the Bees Telling Us?” The public is encouraged to attend “Bee the Change” and learn more about the honeybee. Admission is free, though RSVP is appreciated.

Honey and bee products will be available for purchase, in addition to pupus, provided by Slow Food Hawaii as a fundraiser. Please email Koh Ming Wei at or call 443-9231 to RSVP.


Here’s the “stuff” that mochi (pounding) is made of…….the day after mochi pounding Connie Leyendecker remarked, “It always amazes me how quickly Wailea returns to the way it was.”

The kitties were curled up fast asleep on an old bench outside Akiko’s B&B, an occasional car drove by, a light breeze gently blew through the lemon tree across the street and a daytime coqui chirped. Just the day before, on Mochi Pounding Day, Connie was busy emptying the boxes of cooked mochi rice into the usu (mortar) while her husband Jim Ryndars kept the fires blazing to steam the 110 pounds of sweet mochi rice that Linda Jensen had washed and soaked for three days.

On Mochi Pounding Day, hundreds of people followed the red mochi signs to Hakalau Park, parked their cars there and took the “walk back in time” to Wailea Village. Many were returnees who make the annual pilgrimage to pound and taste the mochi, to get their palms read by Maile Yamanaka or get an I Ching reading, or eat Miyo’s (Harumi) chicken hekka or listen to Lito Archangel sing or cheer the Hui Okinawa Taiko group as they boom in the New Year.

And by 2 p.m. that day, Jim Antilla had collected all the mochi and parking signs from the highway. The tent that covered the pounding area had been disassembled and returned, the trash had been gathered and taken to the transfer station, and the two usu (the stone mortars) had been scrubbed and cleaned by Brad Kurokawa.

The steamer boxes and wood pounders were washed and returned to Akiko’s to dry out. The chairs were all neatly stacked and put away and the Motonaga Garage Gallery swept. The sound equipment had been packed away by Lito. The pots and pans that held the rice were washed and dried. Gene Monnier came down with his truck and all the tables, sign stands, and mochi-making supplies that Jean E. Monnier had so methodically packed were loaded up.

Janet Sorenson closed the cash box and turned it in. By 2:20 p.m., Brad and Yoko Gussman, the chief mochi turners, were receiving massages from Keri Yamamoto after a long hard day’s work of turning the hot sticky rice that so many many people of all ages took turns pounding. By 2:30 p.m., Main Street Wailea was still again, one of those ordinary regular days – an occasional passing car, a slight breeze.

But yet there was a very tangible feeling that something quite wonderful, traditional yet timeless, and extraordinarily human had occurred on an absolutely glorious day in an old, former plantation village — a place of old Hawaii where time has stood still and tradition is honored by an amazingly diverse group of people who come together every year to make mochi pounding happen.

One of Akiko’s B&B guests, Marilyn Lamoreux, made a photo essay on mochi pounding, from start to finish, showing all the many many folks who make mochi pounding happen.

We, the community participants, bow in deep gratitude to all of you who came to celebrate mochi pounding in Wailea. This year the 16th annual mochi pounding will be on Saturday, Dec. 28.

A gracious thanks to Akiko Masuda for sharing this day with the many, many more of us who were not able to participate this year.

Carol Yurth’s column is published every Sunday and spotlights activities on the Hilo-Hamakua coast. She welcomes items for her column. Reach her by mail (46-1240 Kalehua Road, Honokaa HI 96727) at least 10 days before the requested publication date, call her at 775-7101, or e-mail


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