O’SULLIVAN, Harriet Hannah Makia Awana
Makia: The stake which holds the main beams of a house together, that its roof will remain firmly over everyone’s head
Harriet Hannah Makia Awana O’Sullivan, of Kailua, died peacefully at her home on January 8, 2011, ninety-three years after taking her first breath.
She was a beloved woman who descended from a distinguished line of Hawaiian and Tahitian chiefs. Her great-great-grandfather, Tau`a, journeyed from Huahine to Hawai`i in the company of Reverend Ellis and became a revered spiritual teacher to Keopuolani, Kamehameha’s sacred wife. Her great-grandmother, Hannah, for whom she was named, was a relative of Queen Emma and a member of her household. John Kamanoulu, Harriet’s grandfather, was elected to the Territorial House of Representatives, Fifth Legislature. While, her grand aunt, Jennie K. Wilson, was a distinguished dancer in the court of King Kalakaua and the wife of Mayor John Wilson.
The daughter of Jennie Kamanoulu Awana Ezera of Wailuku, Maui and Theodore Awana, of Makawao, Harriet was born at the Kapi`olani Children’s Hospital in Honolulu on November 20, 1917 and raised on Maui and O`ahu. With scholarship awards from Princess Bernice Pauahi and Ida Pope, she graduated from the Kamehameha School for Girls, Class of 1936, where she was Class President, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education, 5th year Teaching Certificate, and a Masters Degree in Educational Administration from the University of Hawai`i at Manoa. Choosing to serve in the public school system, her illustrious career spanned thirty years of service in classroom teaching and school administration in urban and rural communities, from Kalakaua to Ka`a`awa, Hau`ula, Ala Moana, Kahuku, Waiahole, Kailua, American Samoa, and beyond.
A revered hulu kupuna, “Aunty Harriet” was a passionate educator who treasured her work, her students, especially those with special needs, and her colleagues throughout her life and continued to motivate and inspire them, even decades after her retirement as the District Special Projects Director for the State Department of Education
Her distinguished lifetime of leadership and service to the community epitomized excellence in education, the empowerment of women, and the rights of the Hawaiian people. Harriet’s gifts were numerous, and she shared them abundantly, with a “can do” attitude: As chair of the Kailua Neighborhood Board; Founder of the Hoku Le`a Preschool; Advisor to the Queen Lili`uokalani Children’s Center; Community Advisor to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands; President and Board member of the Girl Scout Council of the Pacific; Special Projects Coordinator and O`ahu Island Representative of ALU LIKE, Inc.; Project Coordinator of the Native Hawaiian Education Council; President of the Foundation for Hawaii Women’s History; Board member of the Aloha United Way; Officer and Board member of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs O`ahu Council (AOHCC); lifetime member of the Ali`i Pauahi Hawaiian Civic Club; Chair of the AOHCC Hanai Task Force; member of the Polynesian Voyaging Society; and, on. With the support of Papa Ola Lokahi, Harriet authored seminal articles on the health and well-being of Native Hawaiians, adding to her list of important publications.
She was actively involved in numerous civic, professional and social organizations over the years, among them: The Young Farmers Association; Hawaii Education Association; Hawaii Government Employees Association; National Educational Association; and, the Hawaii Foundation for History and the Humanities.
Residents of Ko`olauloa and Ko`olaupoko fondly remember how Harriet enriched their lives by organizing the University Extension (UE) club, coaching team sports, hosting dances, gathering and raising food to supplement the school budget, and, even, operating the 1st volunteer Fire Engine Company out of the family’s garage in Ka`a`awa.
Though her philosophy was one of service without expectation of recognition, she was honored by numerous organizations, including the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Hawai`i State House of Representatives, the Kamehameha Schools Alumni Association, the YWCA, and the Girl Scout Council of the Pacific.
Harriet was preceded in death by her college sweetheart and husband, Patrick J. O’Sullivan, Jr., as well as her siblings, Theodore Kauanoe, William John, and Benjamin Onaona Awana and, step-brother, Daniel Ezera. A great-great-grandmother seven times over, she leaves a legacy of 79 descendants, and one yet on the way, including her children: Lynette Ku`uipo Lum (Winston); Patrick “Sonny” III (Lynn); Lois Mikahala Blackstad (Stan); Peter Mike (Lisa), and, Rachel Kealaonapua Watson; 29 grandchildren; 38 great-grandchildren; many nieces and nephews; and, loving friends.
No one will forget her aloha, compassion, honesty, humility, integrity, passion for learning, and wisdom. Her words and deeds comfort and inspire us at this time of great sadness. Hawai`i is blessed to have known such a woman as Harriet Hannah Makia Awana O’Sullivan, who tirelessly held the roof strongly over all of our heads.
Memorial services will be held on January 23 at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Memorial Chapel. Visitation at 2:00 p.m. Service at 3:00 p.m. Shuttle service will be provided between designated parking areas and the Chapel. Burial will take place at Diamond Head Cemetery at 2:15 p.m. on January 24. Flowers and lei are welcomed. Aloha/casual attire. Services will be managed by Borthwick Mortuary.