homepage logo

New ‘Voices of Maui’ book captures diversity of natives and newcomers

By Staff | Jul 1, 2010

George Kahumoku Jr., the subject of three Lahaina News columns, accepts the first copy of the book “Voices of Maui” from author Norm Bezane during an appearance at a Sunday brunch.

LAHAINA — “Voices of Maui: Natives and Newcomers,” a new book authored by award-winning Lahaina News columnist Norm Bezane, is being previewed on a YouTube video and will debut online and at selected locations in Lahaina this week.

A collection of profiles and talk stories described as “giving voice to remarkable people,” the fully illustrated book includes sections on “Entertainers, Entrepreneurs, and Colorful Characters;” “Hawaiians and their Culture;” community leaders in a “Movers and Shakers” chapter; and “Islanders and Usurpers,” a special section on the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy and the impact that continues today.

Internet users can go to the YouTube website, type in “Voices of Maui,” and watch a preview i-movie created by Bonnie Nelson of i-magic maui featuring the music of Grammy winner George Kahumoku Jr.

The first “Voices of Maui” book signing will be held at Kaanapali Beach Hotel on Friday, July 2, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Tiki Bar hula show.

Copies are now available in West Maui at the Baldwin Home/Lahaina Restoration Foundation, MauiGrown Coffee at the base of the old Pioneer Mill smokestack and Village Coffee at the Fairway Shops in Kaanapali. Books can also be purchased at Amazon.com with free shipping if two books are ordered, Bezane said.

A special photo essay, “Paradox in Paradise,” and commentary in many of the book’s profiles contrast the clash between traditional Hawaiian values and desire to preserve the ‘aina (land) with new values associated with tourism and economic development.

The wide range of people profiled include entertainers Willie K, George Kahumoku Jr. and Rudy Aquino; community treasures such as the late Ed Lindsey and Pua Lindsey; cultural specialists Hokulani Holt, Hinano Rodrigues and Clifford Nae‘ole of the Celebration of the Arts festival; and activists Charlie Maxwell Sr. and Bumpy Kanahele.

Others, all originally profiled in the “Beyond the Beach” column in Lahaina News, include Theo Morrison  and Keoki Freeland of Lahaina Restoration Foundation; community leaders Joan McKelvey, Jerry Kunitomo, Elle Cochran and Gordon Cockett; legislators Jo Anne Johnson, Angus McKelvey and Mike Victorino; and businesspeople Jim Killett of Lahaina Galleries, Jamie DeBrunner of Old Lahaina Luau and Concierge Malihini Heath of Kaanapali Beach Hotel.

Bartender Dale Simonsen reports on the 400,000 Mai Tais he’s made, and retired barkeep Blackie Gadarian offers the claim that he only threw six customers out of his Blackie’s Boatyard jazz venue.

Talk show host and world traveler Nick Nikhilananda comments on what’s wrong with county government, and Minister David Kapaku talks about core Hawaiian values.

The author and his family visited Maui 27 years ago after a 1969 honeymoon trip with Sara Foley, his wife of 41 years. They became full-time residents in 2001. Bezane launched his Lahaina News column, “Beyond the Beach,” in 2006.

“I put on my old — and I mean old — journalist’s hat again to better understand the culture and try to figure out things that have been rarely written about in depth: aloha, a unique culture so different from the Mainland, the drive to overdevelop the land, the peculiar doings of our politicians and why common sense decision-making appears to be so rare on Maui,” he explained.

Bezane said a local developer once told him, “Once you figure this out, let me know.”

“I now know this is a long journey, but knowledge gained from each interview became a building block for the next,” the former reporter for Business Week magazine said. 

“I still have a lot to learn, but my hope is that others can learn from the remarkable people who have been interviewed so far.”

In 2009, “Beyond the Beach” was among three columns statewide to win awards of excellence from the Society of Professional Journalists in Honolulu.

Updated news on book outlets and more information is available at www.voicesofmaui.com.