Alesha “Ulu” Makuakane… Not Your Typical Teenage Saturday

Alesha “Ulu” Makuakane - goalie for the Kau High water polo team

Media Release:

Alesha ‘Ulu’ Makuakane played water polo in the morning and won Miss Ka‘ū Coffee in the evening. On Saturday, March 27, the Ka‘ū High School senior woke up, traveled to Hilo to captain her team as water polo goalie against Kamehameha Schools, and zoomed back to Pāhala to the pageant. She touched everyone by expressing her goal of helping native Hawaiians to improve health through good nutrition and fitness. Pageant Judge Nona Wilson, Director of Nursing at Ka‘ū Hospital, said that Ulu and her infectious smile are “from the heart.” Veteran Hawaiian entertainer and Judge Sammi Fo said, “Ulu’s hula brought tears to my eyes.”

Ulu also won both the Talent and the Interview trophies. During the interview, she talked about the future of Ka‘ū Coffee. She praised the hard work of the displaced sugar workers who have created a world-class coffee and industry for themselves since the Pāhala sugar mill closed in 1996.

Ulu is 17 and the daughter of Pāhala Community Center manager Winona Makuakane, and Paul Makuakane. The family lives in Wai‘ohinu. Ulu plans to attend college and major in health and human nutrition. “Obesity has become a major issue for Hawaiians, and I want to help these people lower these statistics so they can live healthy and active lifestyles,” she said.

Ulu said she loves Ka‘ū “because it is an undeveloped district with agriculture and pristine beaches. As a native Hawaiian, it is my duty to perpetuate the area for future generations to enjoy.”

Later in the evening capturing the Miss Ka‘ū Coffee Festival

Makuakane’s first public appearance since winning Miss Ka‘ū Coffee, will be dancing at the islandwide Youth Awards Banquet for the Boys & Girls Club on Monday, March 28 at Hilo Yacht Club. She and her court will represent Ka‘ū Coffee in the Merrie Monarch Parade on Saturday, April 10 and reign over the Ka‘ū Coffee Festival Ho`olaulea on Saturday, May 1 on the grounds of the Pāhala Community Center.

Miss Ka‘ū Coffee First Princess is Brandy Kayumi Haunani Shibuya, 21, of Na`alehu, daughter of Police Officer Dane Shibuya and Pāhala Boys & Girls Club director Terry-Lee Shibuya. Brandy won the gown and swimsuit competition. Second Princess is Eunice Nika Longakit, 15, of Pāhala, daughter of veteran sugar union leader Franco and Alejandrea Longakit.

Miss Ka‘ū Coffee Peaberry Queen is Karlee Kaliyah Kealaikamaile Fukunaga-Camba, 8, of Pāhala, daughter of Keala and Justine Camba. First Princess is Melia Kate Tabilin Okimoto, 8, of Pāhala, daughter of Sheilah and Malcom Okimoto. Second Princess is Kailee Kuhaulua-Stacy, 8, of Pāhala, daughter of Cheyenne Kaluahine and Sheldon L. Salmo.

The pageant was organized by the Ka‘ū Coffee Festival Committee and the Ka‘ū Coffee Growers Cooperative. Miss Ka‘ū Coffee earned a $1000 scholarship from the Edmund C. Olson Trust. Pageant Chair Gloria Camba, herself a coffee farmer and teacher at Pāhala Elementary School, said “it is wonderful that the entire community is coming out to support our coffee industry as it is important to the future of Ka‘ū.”

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