Living Treasures of Hawai’i™ Selects 2023 Honorees

NEWS RELEASE – for immediate release
February 1, 2023

Contact: Derrick Inouye 808-522-9200,

Living Treasures of Hawai’i™ Selects 2023 Honorees

Honolulu, Hawai’i – A dedicated historian, a respected preservationist, a devoted landscaper, a lifelong educator. These are just a few of the attributes that describe this year’s Living Treasures of Hawai’i™ honorees.

The Living Treasures of Hawai`i™ has selected four individuals who have made significant contributions in their respective fields and positively impacted the quality of life in our local communities and Hawai’i’s unique culture. The honorees for this 48th year event are Fred Cachola, Jr., Peter Young, Fred Nonaka, and Hiromi Peterson. This recognition takes into account social and cultural impact, professional commitment, and character that embodies the values of our distinct and diverse island community.

The Recognition Program and Gala Luncheon will be held on Saturday, February 11, 2023, 11 a.m. in the Coral Ballroom at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort.

Additional recognition for the 2022 honorees will be held for Kenny Endo, Patrick Kirch, and Keali`i Reichel.

The following individuals have been chosen as this year’s Living Treasures of Hawai’i™:

Fred Cachola, Jr.

Fred CacholaFred Cachola, Jr. has been a leader and educator throughout his life, holding the belief that to know one’s past and the source of one’s existence is to lead a person to a Pono path forward.

Cachola began his career as a seventh-grade history teacher at Waiʻanae Intermediate School – introducing Hawaiian culture and studies. He designed the first program in Hawaiʻi to acclimate teachers to Hawai’i’s unique culture and Oahu’s westside. He quickly advanced to school administration, serving as vice principal for the Nānākuli Schools Complex, and principal of Nānāikapono Elementary School, the largest elementary school in the state at the time.  He then served as director of Kamehameha School’s newly created Extension Education Division, a position he held for 25 years until his retirement. He was a practitioner of ‘aina-based learning before it became widely adopted.  During his tenure, outreach to the Native Hawaiian community blossomed to over 30,000 students annually.

Born and raised on a sugar plantation in Kōhala on Hawaiʻi Island, Cachola spent his adolescent years learning about the history and significance of Kōhala and the greater Hawaiʻi community from his elders. Those conversations were a foundation for his local, state and national advocacy for native Hawaiian cultural and historic preservation and restoration. He was an early leader of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana, and he authored legislation to preserve the Kamehameha birthstones at Kokoiki in Kōhala. He has also given his time to community organizations that support children and seniors, conservation, and native Hawaiian businesses, cultural research, documentation and understanding.

Fred Nonaka

Fred NonakaFrederick Nonaka has cultivated a legacy and established a level of excellence in landscape architecture. As the owner of Fred’s

Nursery, Nonaka has been a successful landscape contractor for 50 years and has been the pebble that created the positive ripples for the Hawai’i Island landscape industry. His attention to detail has set a very high bar of excellence for landscape contractors. He is a master rock setter and plant pruner and he willingly shares all that he knows with anyone.  Nonaka is highly regarded because of what he brings to every landscaping project.

He has devoted countless volunteer hours to the Hongwanji and Hawai’i community for almost 70 years.  Nonaka is one of the original Lion’s Club members who organized the Cherry Blossom Park at Church Row in Kamuela, and he helps to maintain the trees.  He helped to establish the North Hawaii Community Hospital (presently Queen’s North Hawaii Community Hospital) and served on the board of Lucy Henriques Medical Center.

The Hongwanji has been part of Fred’s life since he was 6 years old at Honohina Hongwanji Mission’s Dharma School. He was President of the UH Rainbow YBA, and President of Kamuela Hongwanji Mission. He was the first neighbor island member to become President of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawai’i, a position he held for 10 years.  Along with Bishop Chikai Yosemori, he was co-founder of Pacific Buddhist Academy, the first Shin Buddhist high school in the United States.

Many who know him are unaware of his achievements because, more than anything else, he is a humble man who lives by actions, not words.

Hiromi Peterson

Hiromi PetersonWhen Hiromi Peterson saw the lack of Japanese language teaching materials for high school students, she took it upon herself to do something about it.  She led a team of her colleagues to publish a five-volume textbook.  Today, Adventures in Japanese is now the most widely used Japanese language textbook in the nation at the secondary school level, and on several continents.

Born in Hiroshima City, Japan, Peterson is Hibaku Nisei, a child of atomic bomb victims of World War II.  The fourth volume of Adventures in Japanese includes Peterson’s family’s war experience, with a strong emphasis on peace education.  To help students truly understand the importance of Hiroshima and world peace, royalties from the textbook were fully donated as an endowment to support two students and a teacher to travel to Hiroshima. As a counterpart to the Hiroshima Peace Scholarship, Peterson is now beginning a similar program for Hiroshima students to come to Hawai’i to learn about the World War II experiences from the island’s perspective. The program will be funded by Peterson with earnings from property she inherited in Hiroshima.

To further peace education, Peterson involved her students in helping to raise funds to exhibit of one of Sadako Sasaki’s origami cranes at Pearl Harbor. Peterson also engaged volunteer teachers and students to introduce the story of Sadako through paper folding lessons to visitors to Pearl Harbor. The project included thousands of paper cranes from students of all ages from Japan, each carrying English messages of peace.

Peterson was a high school Japanese language teacher at Punahou School for more than 30 years before her recent retirement.  She also has a teaching degree for shodo (Japanese calligraphy) and her students’ work has been exhibited locally and in Japan. Even in retirement, Peterson continues to focus on educating others.

Peter Young

Peter YoungPeter Young has and continues to serve the community by preserving both Hawai’i’s natural environment and cultural history. Young is a life-long learner, and a planner, historian, researcher educator, collaborator, strategic thinker, and consensus-builder, with wide-ranging experience and contributions to our community.  He has helped spread understanding and awareness of Hawai’i’s history and culture with kama’aina as well as the rest of the world, and has been an advocate for environmental preservation and sustainability.

During his term as Chair of the State of Hawai’i Board of Land and Natural Resources, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) was given an appropriate Hawaiian place name, Papahanaumokuakea.

He prepared the Wao Kele O Puna Comprehensive Management Plan covering the largest landholding of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, for which he received an award from the American Planning Association-Hawaii Chapter, in part because the plan featured “culture as the driving force and lens through which the [Comprehensive Management Plan] is created, will be implemented and allowed to evolve.”

Young participated in preparing the Master Plan update and Comprehensive Management Plan update for the University of Hawai’i lands on Mauna Kea. He also assisted Kona’s Mokuaikaua Church, Hawai’i Islands’ oldest intact western structure, in working with Hawai’i County on building permits.

Born and raised in Hawai’i, his community service includes local and national work relating to the environment, agriculture, cultural preservation, and business.

The 2022 honorees will also be included in the luncheon because the last year’s luncheon was canceled due to the pandemic.

Kenny Endo is an acclaimed taiko drum master who is also a prolific composer. He is at the forefront of marrying old traditions with contemporary musical forms.  He sees taiko as not only entertainment but as a means to create a more harmonious and compassionate society.

Patrick Kirch, PhD, is a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa faculty member.  His current research focuses on the origins and settlement histories of Pacific peoples. He believes that practitioners of diverse fields of study can work together to give a fuller picture of ancient civilizations.

Keali`i Reichel is a world renowned kumu hula, musician and recording artist, scholar and cultural practitioner.  He has received numerous Na Hoku Hanohano awards. He has been at the vanguard of Hawaiian cultural revival and sustainability.

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The Living Treasures of Hawai’i™ program was created by the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawai’i in 1976, inspired by the Living National Treasures of Japan. The late Bishop Yoshiaki Fujitani started the program at the suggestion of Paul Yamanaka, a local insurance executive, who wanted to honor those unique to the islands who demonstrate excellent and high standards of achievement in their particular fields and continue to make a significant contribution towards enriching our society. For more information on Living Treasures of Hawai’i™, please visit