PO’IPU — “He had tears in his eyes,” said Teiwingaro Henare, a Maui resident.
He was speaking of Michael Campbell, one of four professional golfers playing in the 23rd PGA Grand Slam of Golf, and Henare, a native New Zealander, flew in from Maui with about a half a dozen other New Zealanders now living on Maui, to greet the golfer.
“We were at the airport to meet him when he came in, and from the crowd came a shout, ‘Hi, Cuz!’ ” explained Henare, his presentation laced with the New Zealand accent.
That shout came from Warren Hikuroa, first cousin to Campbell, who said that, when Campbell recognized the familiar face, he could not help but shed a tear.
“It’s like Hawai’i,” Henare said. “You go somewhere, and when you recognize someone familiar, it’s special.”
Henare connected with Kapahi resident Jules Cannon, another native New Zealander, to make everything fall into place for Monday’s pro-am golf event at the Poipu Bay Golf Course.
“We were all born in New Zealand,” Henare said. “But now we live on Maui (and Kaua’i). Most of the boys are builders.”
Henare, who donned a weathered Japanese kimono topped with a straw hat adorned with a kukuinut lei, explained that he used to be a Japanese translator until the Sept. 11 disaster.
After that, the Japanese market softened, and he turned to other areas, but said his heart is Japanese all the way.
“I’m a Maori person with a Japanese heart,” he chuckled while stopping to help a honeymooning couple take a snap-shot against the backdrop of flags that lined the Po’ipu golf course.
Cannon said they got a lot of help from David Charles, who works for the PGA. David is the son of Bob Charles, another New Zealander who was the first New Zealander to win a major tournament when he won the British Open in 1963.
“He was real nice. He made sure that we had tickets for the three days, and made everything happen so we could perform the haka at the first tee before Campbell teed off,” Cannon explained.
“Don’t forget Aunty Stella (Burgess) of the Grand Hyatt Regency Kauai,” Cannon said. “She made the connections so we could get the costumes.”
Originally, the group from Maui (and one Kauaian) wanted to perform the haka for each of the golfers, but PGA (Professional Golfers Association of America) felt that one performance was adequate, Henare said.
The group has been accompanied by journalist Inga Newman, who writes for the Maui Times, a weekly publication, and has been doing coverage of the PGA event from the eyes of the Maui visitors. Newman said the group is known as Nga Hau e Wha, which translates to mean “The Four Winds.”
Candy Aluli, who handles some of the public relations matters for the event, said, “What a perfect place for a demonstration of the New Zealand culture. Hawai’i has such a variety of cultural people living here, it’s nice when they can present the cultural aspect of the golfers participating in the event.”
- Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or email@example.com