Jean Miyahira to be honored as a ‘Living Lahaina Treasure’ on Prince Kuhio Day
LAHAINA – In celebration of Prince Kuhio Day, Tuesday, March 26, Jean Hatsue Miyahira will be recognized as a “Living Lahaina Treasure” by Na Kupuna O Maui on the lawn of the Baldwin Home Museum in downtown historic Lahaina.
Hosted by Lahaina Restoration Foundation, festivities begin at 10 a.m. joined by students from the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program opening the event with a mele. There will be lei making, cultural demonstrations, cake and Hawaiian music.
“It is our honor,” Aunty Patty Nishiyama (Na Kupuna O Maui) said, “to recognize Jean Miyahira on this occasion. She has truly represented all the good that is our community for the past 60-plus years.”
Miyahira is a child of the Lahaina Plantation, small town era of the last century.
Born in the Pioneer Mill Hospital (900 Front St.) in 1940, she attended King Kamehameha III Elementary School and then graduated from Lahainaluna High School in 1958.
The image of Miyahira and her sister Jane M. Kupau (late) are emblazoned in the collective memory of the community, working together with their mother, Edith K. Miyahira, at the Seaside Bar (now Lahaina Fish Company), serving some of the most ‘ono dishes Front Street had to offer, like homemade saimin, hamburgers, floats, sundaes, flavored sodas and banana splits.
During her years at the Seaside, Miyahira met many Hollywood celebrities, and she appeared as an extra in the film “Twilight for the Gods” starring Rock Hudson and Cyd Charisse.
Miyahira was a dedicated student of Kumu Hula Aunty Emma Sharpe.
As a teenager during the summer months, she worked at Baldwin Packers (now Lahaina Cannery Mall) packing pineapples and peeling mangoes.
Education was an integral part of Miyahira’s upbringing. After graduation from Lahainaluna, she attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa for one-and-a-half years. Later she enrolled in Honolulu Business College and received a certificate with honors.
In the late 1960s and ’70s, she was employed at different West Side business locations, including the Sheraton Maui as cashier, office manager for Ron Kawahara (CPA) and manager and account clerk for the Deli Corner gift shop at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel.
But it was in 1979 that she discovered her true niche in life, when then-Lahainaluna High School Principal Henry “Bruno” Ariyoshi hired Miyahira to serve as the school’s account clerk and later as School Administrative Services Assistant (SASA).
Amazingly, March 27 marks her 40th anniversary at Lahainaluna.
Miyahira served the community as well. For 30 years, she was a board member of Lahaina Federal Credit Union (now Valley Isle Federal Credit Union). Her work on the board over the years included serving as president and organizing the union’s annual meetings.
She was also a board member of the Lahaina Business and Professional Women’s Club for three decades, helping to raise funds for scholarships for Lahainaluna graduates.
Miyahira has two nieces, one nephew and one grand-nephew who lovingly refer to her as their “second mom.” In the community, they say, she is known as “Aunty Jean” because of her endless aloha for her hometown and unwavering loyalty for Lahainaluna.
“Jean is a dear friend and a pillar of the Lahaina community. She has enriched the lives of residents and visitors alike for many years, and I am so pleased that she is being recognized for her significant positive impact in Lahaina,” Sen. Roz Baker affirmed.