Henry Tai Hook, the unofficial mayor of Hanalei

  • Contributed photo

    Henry Tai Hook

During the 1960s, when my mother-in-law, Julie Beralas (1928-1992), worked as a bartendress in the “House of Happy Talk” bar at the Hanalei Plantation Hotel, she would sometimes go to Black Pot at pau hana to talk story and drink with Henry Tai Hook (1909-1976) and her other Hawaiian friends.

Black Pot, the place where Julie socialized, is located by the mouth of the Hanalei River and got its name from the big black pot that Henry Tai Hook used there for cooking.

Born in Wainiha Valley and employed by Kauai County as a road supervisor, Henry Tai Hook was a friendly, likable fellow who loved people and parties and was known to his countless friends as the Mayor of Hanalei.

On Saturday night, July 31, 1971, he gave his biggest party ever at his Wainiha home — with a lot of help from his friends.

Tai Hook said of his party: “I threw this party up on account of my 62nd birthday, my (42nd wedding) anniversary (to Annie), my retirement and my new house. I wanted to have it on my birthday (Jan. 11), but I can’t take care of it then, because I have no cash. And you know how that goes: No money, no honey. No green, no scene.”

Among the over 2,000 guests was Kauai’s first mayor, Antone Kona Vidinha.

Missing, however, was John Hanohano Pa of Wainiha, who was born in Kalalau Valley in 1888, when about 50 Hawaiian families lived there, and had died in June 1971.

Six-hundred-fifty people per sitting were fed under an orange, blue and red canvas tent Tai Hook built in his backyard.

Their menu included three cattle, four pigs, many chickens, about 6,000 lau lau, a huge amount of poi, fresh fish, an immense store of Primo beer, whiskey, and 50 cases each of Tuborg and Heineken beer.

When Henry Tai Hook passed away on Nov. 27, 1976, he left behind two sons, six daughters, 32 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His wife, Annie Tai Hook, had died in 1974.

  1. Ann February 13, 2018 8:19 am Reply

    The tent was made with bamboo, tied down with hau rope and coconut leafs, it took 3 weeks to building and was over a 100 ft long and 40 ft wide. There was olympic, budweiser, primo beer, all different hard. We killed 8 cows and 8 pigs to make laulau and kalua. It took the family two weeks to prepare the food.

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