24-hour vigil allows for final alohas to Kenneth Brown

By Paula Akana
Published On: Mar 21 2014 05:41:00 PM HST

Community members share with the public and Kenneth Brown's family their memories of the beloved visionary leader and mentor.

HONOLULU -

The 24-hour vigil honoring Hawaii leader Kenneth Brown has come to an end.

Click here to watch Paula Akana's story.

Community members had a chance to share with the public and Brown's family what a visionary leader and mentor he has been to so many.

"He fundamentally drove the vision for our worldwide voyage called Malama Honua to care for the Earth because of his love for this place," said Polynesian Voyaging Society navigator Nainoa Thompson.

Thompson was among the many who came to Mauna Ala to honor Hawaiian leader Kenneth Brown who died last month at the age of 94.

The sound of the pu'ili signaled the end of a 24-hour vigil celebrating Brown's life. He was an architect whose vision extended far beyond just buildings. Brown dedicated his life to organizations that were devoted to building a healthier Hawaii, much like his Great Grandfather John Papa I'I who was a lawmaker, judge and advisor to King Kamehameha III.

Among those who stayed through the entire 24 hour vigil were Brown's grandsons. They say the outpouring of aloha from the public allowed them a glimpse into the life of the humble man they loved.

"This has had a big impact on me. I feel a lot of respect for him; feel a lot of mana flowing from him," said Nick I'i Kniskern White, Brown's grandson. "I'm very proud of my lineage and to be a descendant of his."

"My best memory of him is just watching him looking at the ocean the last couple weeks of his life, and just seeing the wisdom in his eyes, the whole beauty of him [and] his presence," said Sam I'I Johnston, another grandson of Brown. "As a whole, he really didn't have to say much. You could – you just feel him all the time."

Lei were presented at the crypt carrying the remains of the Kamehamehas and Brown's beloved Queen Emma. He served as the chair on the Queen's board of trustees for many years.

Then the group made its way down the road to Oahu Cemetery, to the John Papa I'I plot where Brown is interred. As the lei were presented all said a final aloha, but not goodbye.

Brown's middle name, Kamuokalani, will be inscribed on the palekai or the beam that holds together hokule'a's hulls.

"The palekai is the first to break the wave in the story. Kenny is that strength that we've had all this time and he'll be part of the palekai," said Thompson.

Hokule'a's newest navigators even named one of the stars they use Kamuokalani after Brown. The star had no Hawaiian name up until now, so Kamuokalani will help guide the canoe home.

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