Wilma Holi’s testimony to the U.S. Navy was used in the film, “Kaho‘olawe Aloha ‘Āina.”

Aunty Wilma Healani Holi was an educator, an activist and a cultural practitioner whose kuleana was with her family’s traditional salt pond in Hanapēpē, Kaua‘i, where her grandfather was the last konohiki.

Holi was a secondary teacher and librarian on Kaua‘i for 39 years, as well as an active member of her community before and after her retirement.

A direct descendant of Lot Kapuāiwa, Kamehameha V, Holi died Jan. 16.

Papa Ola Lōkahi published a rememberance of Wilma Healani Holi. – Photos: Courtesy of Papa Ola Lōkahi/Caitlin Scott.

Holi submitted a biography to the Department of Land and Natural Resources in 2015, which demonstrated her extensive work in the community, on top of her responsibilities as a teacher. She was a founding director of the Garden Island Canoe Racing Association, later becoming its secretary and race director. She was also the elected president of the Hanapēpē Community Association.

Hurricane Iniki ended Holi’s tenure as the association’s president and she shifted focus to coordinating recovery efforts with the community and military. She also served on the Habitat for Humanity board, and opened a local chapter.

A nonprofit focusing on the health needs of Hawaiians, Ho‘ola Lāhui Hawai‘i, recruited Holi, who became the organization’s president. Under her lead, Ho‘ola Lāhui Hawai‘i opened two community health centers and a pharmacy that makes discounted medicine available in Hawai‘i. As Papa Ola Lōkahi’s third president, she advocated for Native Hawaiian health programs and resources, and later helped lobby for the creation of a College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawai‘i-Hilo.

Aunty Wilma Healani Holi advocated for programs and services to improve Native Hawaiian health, including community health centers and discounted medications. – Photos: Courtesy Lei Sullivan

Papa Ola Lōkahi published a remembrance of Holi on its website, offering more insight into Holi’s activism. She occupied Kaho‘olawe and her testimony to the U.S. Navy was included in the film “Kaho‘olawe Aloha ‘āina.” The biography she provided to DLNR was for her advocacy involving Mauna Kea; Holi presided over contested case hearings and testified as a witness.

Holi attended Pepperdine University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in secondary education with an emphasis on health and physical education, followed by a master’s in education in 1979. She earned another master’s degree in library and information sciences from the University of Hawai‘i-Mānoa.

Holi is survived by her sisters Gwendolyn Holi, Belle Ka‘iwi, Mona Joy Holi and Henrietta Holi Helm (Zachary Helm); nieces and nephews Denise, Janice, Kailianu, Barbara, Bruce, Benetta, Benehakaka, Tiare, Johanna, Douglas, Carlton, Curtis and Raiatea, and godson Kapono. Services were held last month in Līhu‘e. Condolences can be sent to P.O. Box 368, Hanapepe, HI 96716.

He Mele Kanikau

Mele kanikau, a chant of lamentation, appeared often in the old Hawaiian language newspapers and all segments of the populous were honored. The life story, and the legacy of the deceased were shared with a large community of readers.

We are bringing the practice of publishing kanikau in the newspaper back with the hope that it will give our people a way to honor those who have shared their aloha with us.

The following kanikau was written by the parents of a baby girl who had changed their lives forever.

Kuu Pua Ohelo Ke Aloha

Na Mama Lei Aloha me Papa Kui Imu

kuu pua ohelo ke aloha nui
i Makalii i ulu ke aloha
ke aloha o na makua
ka pua o Kauai
ka aina o na kupuna
e hanai mau i ka lahui

kuu pua ohelo ke aloha nui
ka hua momona
ka lau kapalili
ka pua mohala aela
i ka honua makuahine
e aloha mau ka lahui

kuu pua ohelo ke aloha nui
i Ikiiki i puka mai ke aloha
ke aloha o na makua
hiipoi ia i ka poli makua
pulama ia me ke aloha
e hooheno mau ka lahui
kuu pua ohelo ke aloha nui

ka lei poina ole
ka lei ai na ka makua
ka lei nani mau loa
ka lei hala ula wena
e hiilei mau ka lahui

ke aloha nou e Kaaiohelo