Clement Kanuha, Jr., better known as “Junior” to almost everybody, has died. Junior passed away at home last Saturday evening at the age of 61. He’d battled prostate cancer for quite a long time. Junior was one of six children of Betty and Clem Kanuha, raised in a home just next to what is now the ABC Store at Emma’s Square, just north of Mokuai’kaua Church. Junior’s siblings included Rosemary, Zachary, Monica (generally called Moniques), Lovena (called Pocho), and Jerome, plus a hanai brother, Ipo, recently deceased.
Junior’s oldest sister talked of him as a beachcomber who loved the ocean and anything having to do with marine life. He was invited by the government of New Caledonia to advise them on how to protect their reefs. He was an avid waterman. He sailed on the Hokule’a, and paddled, mostly for Kai Opua Canoe Club, which was co-founded in 1929 by his grandfather. Junior’s great love was cultural preservation for land with ties to the family, including Keolonahihi Heiau and the Keakealani Wahine Complex, both south of Kailua Village. He was also actively involved in trying to preserve Kohanaiki (Pine Trees). His brother Jerome said Junior continued, even as his health failed, to push for people to work together and work things out to ensure the Hawaiian culture and heritage was preserved.
Junior Kanuha is survived by his wife, his sons, and a very large extended family and circle of friends and those in the community whom he touched. His memorial service is planned for Saturday, January 8 at Kona’s Old Airport Makae’o Events Pavilion, starting at 9 a.m.–remembrances of Junior, fellowship, sharing, and food. Junior’s ashes will be scattered Sunday, January 9. Brother Jerome says the family–brothers, sisters, cousins, will all leave from the beach nearest Hulihe’e Palace in canoes, and paddle down to Kamoa Point where Junior’s ashes will be scattered. We’ll add more details as we learn them.