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Kim honored at annual BIVB lunch

KARIN STANTON/Hawaii247.com Contributing Editor

WAIKOLOA — Harry Kim has worn any number of hats during nearly 50 years serving the people of the Big Island, so it was only fitting that the members of the Big Island Visitors Bureau tipped their hats to him at their annual luncheon.

Kim was presented with the Hoomaikai Award at Friday’s luncheon at The Fairmont Orchid Hawaii, attended by 180 industry, business and community leaders.

Harry Kim speaks about his mission of peace Friday, Dec. 5 at the Big Island Visitors Bureau annual luncheon at The Fairmont Orchid Hawaii. (Photo by Karin Stanton/Hawaii247.com)

Harry Kim speaks about his mission of peace Friday, Dec. 5 at the Big Island Visitors Bureau annual luncheon at The Fairmont Orchid Hawaii. (Photo by Karin Stanton/Hawaii247.com)

The annual Hoomaikai Award is given as a way of expressing thanks and gratitude to a person or company that embodies and demonstrates the spirit of aloha.

Kim said he was honored by the award and would continue to work to promote harmony, tolerance and peace in Hawaii and around the world.

The two-term mayor, who passed the mantel to former student and assistant Billy Kenoi on Dec. 1, said he is mulling offers as a consultant in Asia and elsewhere, but first will take a break.

Kim spent his last weekend as mayor in hospital, dealing with paralyzing pain in his back and legs, and will need additional treatment.

“Well, with five ruptured discs, it’s not an easy problem,” he said.

Neither is world peace, he acknowledged.

Kim recalled being just 19 years old when Hawaii was considering statehood and being troubled by news of civil rights struggles on the mainland.

“I thought this is a world that needs laws to treat people right and I realized Hawaii becoming a state would make America a better place,” he said. 

Hawaii is the quintessential example of the melting pot America claims to be, he said, and even has a word for people of mixed blood – hapa.

He mentioned President-elect Barack Obama and the reigning Olympic decathlon champion Bryan Clay.

“Hapa haoles,” Kim said, going on to talk about Oahu’s Little League world champions. “I haven’t met any of those boys, but I’ll bet half of them are hapa.”

Each is an example of the best Hawaii has to offer.

“I want the world to ask ‘what the hell is hapa?'”

Kim said his driving force – though years as a teacher, coach, law enforcement administrator, Civil Defense Agency director, and finally as mayor – has been promoting harmony.

“Peace is my greatest mission and nothing else matters,” Kim said. “I’ve changed greatly my opinion of tourism in the last 18 years.”

Kim said he now regards the visitor industry as central to exporting Hawaii’s brand of peace, harmony, tolerance and aloha.

“Other places might beat us in sand and surf, but there is no other place in the world like Hawaii,” he said. “We’re not here by accident. We have a special role in this world of conflict. It’s the only place on God’s given Earth that it can be done.”

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