Everybody Loves Rae


Photo: Rae Nam

Rae Makanani Nam’s ʻano is so powerfully beautiful that you can feel it come right through your computer email.

Ask the executive director of Kūkulu Kumuhana O Anahola to respond to nine email questions, and she will pour her heart out in 12-pages of response explaining exactly how much passion and aloha she has for her Anahola community.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs Grants Management System Administrator Karlen Oneha said working with Nam has been an inspiration.

“Every interaction I’ve had with her reminds me to keep pushing each day. Her passion and diligence inspire me to be a better worker and community member,” Oneha said. “Rae juggles multiple hats at KKOA and continues to get the job done with grace and dedication to the lāhui.”

“Everybody who knows Aunty Rae, loves Aunty Rae,” says KKOA Co-Founder and President Kuʻuleialoha Punua. “Rae expresses the heart of KKOA with such joy and excellence. Her ability to navigate through many waters in this stage of KKOAʻs journey is beyond commendable. She leads with so much aloha, wisdom, kindness, patience, inner strength, confidence and focus – everyone loves Aunty Rae!”

Nam was credited by Hawaiian Homes Commissioner Dennis Neves of Kauaʻi at an April 2022 Department of Hawaiian Homelands meeting for spearheading the community suicides training in Anahola, specifically bringing about a great amount of healing. The goal of KKOAʻs SAFETALK Suicide Prevention training is to have someone, or a family, trained on every street in Anahola.

Nam, a Kamehameha Schools graduate and Kauaʻi native, is so nice that back in the day when she worked as a front desk clerk at the Sheraton Moana/Surfrider Hotel, the bellhops placed a bet that she would not make it past her probationary period because she was too nice to deal with unhappy and rude tourists. Not only did she last 11 years at Sheraton and destroy the bellhops’ bet, “little did they know that I would end up marrying one of them,” Nam said.

If the Anahola community loves Aunty Rae, Aunty Rae loves them right back.

“Through all the years as a KKOA board member and serving the Anahola community, I have really loved this community. When I got this job I asked my friends to pray that I would get past my inadequacies and stay focused on the people,” she said.

“The best thing about this job is that I have a front-row seat to what could possibly be the most life-changing time for the Anahola community. I love working with the different organizations that impact Anahola as well because our common bond, aside from the love of the people, is that we all know we can’t do it alone. I love connecting with the people and KKOA opens opportunities for us to make a difference in individual lives, in revitalizing our lands, and allows us to learn and grow as well.

“I want to be clear that there is absolutely nothing that we’ve done that we did alone. From the very beginning, KKOA has had incredible partnerships that have helped us in every way that has allowed our organization to grow. Those partnerships continue to stand alongside us as we represent Anahola the best way we can.”

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