46th Annual ʻŌʻō Awards Honorees

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Photo: Andrew Rosen

By Andrew Rosen

“Na ke kanaka mahiʻai ka imu ō nui – A well-filled imu belongs to the one who tills the soil.” (Pukui #2239)

As we continue to rise from the chaos of the pandemic, we take stock of all of the ways we protect, nurture and preserve waiwai, richness. We look to our ʻŌiwi leaders in community, politics and business to work with us to ensure a thriving lāhui. The Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce (NHCC) is proud to announce its honorees for The 46th Annual ʻŌʻō Awards: Dr. Diane Paloma, Kahu Kenneth Makuakāne, and Mr. Scott Seu.

When not dancing or teaching hula at Ka Pā Hula O Ka Lei Lehua, Paloma divides her time between her husband and children, serving on the boards of 12 community organizations, and fulfilling her role as CEO of Hawaiʻi’s largest dental insurance provider, Hawaiʻi Dental Service. The recent Omidyar fellow and University of Hawaiʻi Regent was named one of the “20 for the next 20” by Hawaiʻi Business Magazine. Rooted in the traditions of our people, Paloma’s passion for the health and wellbeing of Hawaiʻi is evident in her decades of commitment to the field and her dedication to preserving our way of life.

Kahu Kenneth Makuakāne is a household name across the pae ʻāina. A renaissance man in his own right, he now leads Kawaiahaʻo Church as its senior pastor. Makuakāne is a prolific singer and songwriter with 21 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards and is the 2015 recipient of the Hawaiʻi Academy of Recording Arts Lifetime Achievement Award. He is an accomplished entrepreneur, producing music for some of the biggest names in Hawaiian music. Makuakāne’s life, both personal and professional, has been dedicated to Hawaiian culture and to the caring of Hawaiʻi’s people.

Crediting his work ethic and dedication to Hawaiʻi to foundations built at Kamehameha Schools in his youth, Scott Seu was determined to be a successful engineer and serve his people. He earned two degrees in engineering from Stanford and served in the Air Force reserves, returning home in 1993. Seu has been with Hawaiian Electric for 28 years and is its current president and CEO. He has worked to increase the number of Kānaka engineers here at home and his community work includes serving as board chair for Hale Kipa and as a board member of Teach for America – Hawaiʻi and Partners in Development Foundation.

This award was conceived 46 years ago to showcase and honor Native Hawaiian business leaders that demonstrate courage, resilience and dedication to their craft and the people of Hawaiʻi. These ʻŌiwi leaders remind us that Hawaiian culture and values continue to be important pillars for how we do business and what we pass on to the next generation of leaders.


Andrew Rosen is the executive director of the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce and a long-time member. Contact Andrew at andrew@nativehawaiianchamberofcommerce.org.