Categorized | Education

Eddie Aikau Foundation rewards young writers

L to R: Shari Jumalon, Konawaena Middle School teacher, with KMS student winners Justin Jennings, Thomas Johnston, Danielle Uemura, and Ku'uipo Bettencourt and Tania DuPont of Waimea Middle Public Conversion Charter School, with Eddie's brother Solomon Aikau (Photo by Bernie Baker)


The Eddie Aikau Foundation presented its 7th Annual Essay Contest awards, Saturday, March 17, honoring 25 statewide winners, ten from Big Island Schools. Eddie’s brother Solomon and wife Linda Gillette Aikau of Waimea joined family members on Oahu for the awards presentation.

“We’re very happy to see so many Big Island students among the winners,” said Solomon, co-owner with Linda of the Eddie Aikau Restaurant in Kings’ Shops. “It shows that Eddie’s story, and the values he represents, are spreading across the islands and beyond. It’s a story that everyone wants to connect with, and we and the Foundation are very proud of all these young writers for sharing it in their own words.”

The essay contest awards presentation takes place each year on March 17, “Eddie Aikau Day,” as proclaimed by the 2004 Hawaii State Legislature.

Cash prizes were awarded as follows: 1st Place $500, 2nd Place $350, 3rd Place $250, and $100 for each of the Honorable-mention winners.

A total of 627 entries were judged on essay content, presentation and writing skill, in both English and Hawaiian divisions.

Contest themes focus on the values and spirit of big wave surfer Eddie Aikau, who was lost at sea March 17, 1978 while paddling for help for his shipmates of the capsized Hokulea, a traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe.

This year’s theme asked students to comment on that heroic decision: “Eddie’s actions reflected the Hawaiian values of KOKUA (to help) and KAHIAU (to give generously with the heart, without expecting anything in return). How do these values inspire your actions and how do they influence your decision of who to help, when you can’t help everyone?”

In the English language division, Hawaii Island winners are:

* Tania Dupont, 3rd Place Grade 7, Waimea Middle School, teacher Liz Noetzel
* Danielle Uemura, 1st Place Grade 8, Konawaena Middle School (KMS), teacher Shari Jumalon
* Kuuipo Bettencourt, 3rd Place Grade 8, KMS
* Thomas Johnston and Justin Jennings, Honorable Mention, KMS

In the Hawaiian Language Division, Ke Kula O Nawahiokalanio Puu in Keaau swept the awards with five of five winners, all students of teacher Kealohi Reppun.

* Alakai Iaea-Russell, 1st Place Grade 7
* Kaualiliko Baclig, 2nd Place Grade 7
* Iona Kumupono Kim, 3rd Place Grade 7
* Tuvae Nerveza-York and Hokulani Fortunato, Honorable Mention, Grade 8

The Eddie Aikau Foundation’s annual Essay Contest is open to all students, grade 7-10. The Contest theme is announced and submissions open in November, with a January deadline to enter.

The Foundation is a charitable organization created to share Eddie Aikau’s life, contributions and accomplishments while promoting education and the advancement of Hawaiian culture.

The Foundation strives to inspire people to develop a strong sense of pride in themselves, their heritage and their community through Eddie’s remarkable spirit and character.

For more information, visit

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