The Legacy of Uncle Tommy Hashimoto: Hoaʻāina of Hāʻena

‘O ka makua ke ko‘o o ka hale. 

The parent is the support that holds the household together. 

God bless Uncle Thomas (Tommy) Hashimoto our E Alu Pu and Limu Hui kupuna and founding member of the Hui Maka’ainana o Makana who left this mortal coil on February 12, 2019. Before passing he was visited by many cherished friends and shared favorite memories and wishes.

Photo Credit: Jonny Wichman

 “From the time of his birth July 13, 1934, in a small, wooden house in Hāʻena, Thomas Hashimoto was destined to be a fisherman.”(Excerpt) Hāʻena Through the Eyes of the Ancestors, Carlos Andrade 

Tommy was a farmer, a landscaper, a military officer and former bartender too.

To almost his dying day he and Auntie Annie could hardly be taken away from their loʻi (taro patch) in Hāʻena. Even from his bed he desired to work in the loʻi and fish as well. He once reminisced and asked that he could go “surround ʻakule” like he used to. Tommy knew the best fishing spots, where the limu and ʻopihi best grew, the right seasons to go and when to stay away.

He served on the initial State Aha Moku advisory council as a respected elder and used his indigenous and local knowledge, combined it with his own observations, work ethic as well as a long military experience to help build up the efforts to mālama Hāʻena as one of a few relatively intact ahupuaʻa in Hawaiʻi. Along with the passage of the Hāʻena community-based subsistence fishing area rules, one of his lasting legacies will be the map he helped make marking the traditional areas and names of Hāʻena’s shoreline.

Uncle Tommy Hashimoto with Haena keiki. Photo by Kim Moa

Photo Credit: Kim Moa

Beyond how much he cared about ʻāina nobody went unfed if Tommy was around and Aunty Annie continues the tradition with their children and grandchildren. He shared much of what he learned about fishing. At his own expense, he made throw nets which he gave away to keiki and members of the community. He taught them how to sew the nets and he instructed them on how to cast the net to catch their dinner.He breathed new life into the adage “Give a man fish, you feed him for a day. Show a man how to catch fish, you feed him for life”. Tommy Hashimoto will continue to feed the community for many more generations. 

Today the Hui Makaʻāinana o Makana continues the work of caring for Hāʻena and was recently recognized by the United Nation’s with the Equator Prize for their innovation in co-management, co-governance and use of indigenous and local knowledge. Tommy would have been humbled and honored that the quiet, determined struggle to preserve and pass on the knowledge that resided with him and a number of the founding kupuna of E Alu Pū has been lifted up and recognized globally.

In the short film, The Hoaʻāina of Hāʻena, Tommy sits under the shed at the Hāʻena loʻi at the northernmost end of the road on Kauaʻi. Speaking about his work on the Hāʻena State Park loʻi restoration and CBSFA he says:

“I think about all these things you know. About my people, or the people of this ʻāina. And that’s my style. Like even for this, I put a lot of effort inside this and support this thing. When we started this project I promised the people I going do all the leg work over here. That’s what you see around here. That’s why this place is nice and clean. I take care this place like my own house.”

Tommy found special purpose for what was important to him; mālama of the place where he was raised. It was not something he was paid for. It was a kuleana a legacy we all must find ways to carry forward.

Uncle Tommy is survived by his wife, Annie Tai Hook Hashimoto, children, Thomasine Leilani Romas, Valerie Ann Leolani Yokotake, Haven (Bert) Iwalani Dawbarn, Taryn (Kelii Alapai) Nalani Hashimoto, Dancette (Patrick) Lani Green, Kimberly (Ronnie Gorospe) Wailani Tai Hook, Shann (Kelly Boro) Anolani Hashimoto, Junedale Ualani Hashimoto and Jodi Keala Hashimoto-Omo; 15 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren; sisters-in-law, Wanda Hashimoto, Travis Leimomi Tubal; brothers-in-law, Wilbert “Afuk” (Mieko) Tai Hook and Henry (Rikki) Tai Hook Jr.; Hanai children, Chipper & Hau’oli Wichman, David “Kawika” Goodale, Lee Gushiken, Emily Cadiz; numerous nieces, nephews and cousins and extended family and dear friends.

Much love & aloha to the Hashimoto ‘ohana.

Services for Uncle Tommy will take place on his birthday July 13 at Waiʻoli Huiʻia Church in Hanalei with visitation from 8:00am and services celebrated at 10:00-11am, pāʻina (celebration) to follow.

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