Paddling matriarch Aunty Maile Mauhili to be memorialized Saturday

  • Aunty Maile Mauhili died Oct. 19 at her home in Keaukaha. She was 85 years old.

Aunty Maile Mauhili, who made the ocean her home and loved canoe paddling with all her heart, died Oct. 19 at her home in Keaukaha. She was 85 years old.

Born in Ola’a, she was a retired Hilo High campus security official. She was the founder of the Kailana Canoe Club and board member of the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association and Moku o Hawaii Canoe Racing Association. She was a member of the Malia Puna O Kalani Catholic Church.


Visitation will be held from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Malia Puna O Kalani Catholic Church Hall. Funeral Mass at 11 a.m., burial to follow at Homeland Memorial Park, Section 7. Casual attire.

For over a half-century, Aunty Maile shared her love of canoe paddling as a paddler, coach, official and race organizer.

“It is up to us to serve as good role models to the younger generation,” Aunty Maile said upon her induction into the Big Island Sport Hall of Fame a decade ago. “We, as adults have the responsibility to lead by example.”

She first learned to paddle back in March 1946 at the age of 11 but that was cut short on April 1 of that year when a tsunami hit Hilo. In 1953, Mauhili, along with a handful of others, helped revive the sport of canoe paddling in East Hawaii.

It was always held the keiki she close to her heart. In 2016, she reconnected with Canoe Kaniho-Reyes, who took up paddling under Aunty Maile’s wing as a 10-year-old.

Aunty Maile had coached her father Tommy Young, too.

She dropped out of paddling to dance hula with Johnny Lum Ho’s Halau O Ka Ua Kani Lehua, where she danced since she was 6 years old. In April of 2016, Kaniho-Reyes was part of Lum Ho’s wahine group that won the kahiko, auana and the overall titles at the Merrie Monarch.

Kaniho-Reyes returned to paddling in her senior year at Hilo High. By then, Aunty Maile’s daughter, Aloha, was the Vikings coach.

Asked if she remembered Sanoe, Aunty Maile said she did and knew her family’s paddling background as well. “Tommy’s dad, Buddy Young, was a well-known coach in Honolulu. She comes from a paddling family. I’m glad when they come back.”


Aunty Maile did her best work with anyone who had a love of the ocean as much as she did. She made her paddlers feel like family and treated everyone like a favorite Aunty.

Survived by, son, Jerome Mauhili of Keaukaha; daughters, Jewelyn Aloha Mauhili of Keaukaha and Jadyn “Tiga” (Kamaka) Kaneakua of Waimanalo, Oahu; hanai granddaughter, Jasha Anne Kanoe (Franklin) Mauhili-Kamaka of Kailua-Kona; brothers, Henry (Geri) Auwae of California, Allen (Riva) Auwae of Oregon and Charles “Kalani” Auwae of Keaukaha; sisters, Henrietta (Johnny) Miranda of Keaukaha, Jewellyn “Mary” Leialoha of Panaewa and Charlotte (Rabano) Keo of Las Vegas, Nevada; five grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.

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