Aunty Pinau Kalaukalani
We've all wondered about Auntie Pinau...who Blanding mentions in
Hula Moons. There is also a character with that name in Stowaways in
Paradise. In Memory Room (1935) Blanding dedicates a poem to her,
which often made me wonder if she died that year. Not so, as
I've recently discovered.
Harry Owens, the popular Hawaiian band leader from the thirties and
forties, wrote an autobiography entitled SWEET LEILANI in 1970. He
has a chapter entitled `Auntie Pinau.' He met her in 1933
shortly after he got the job of band leader for the Royal Hawaiian
Hotel (the old director Johnny Noble had become quite deaf.) He
wanted to compose a bunch of tunes based on traditional Hawaiian
songs, and was advised to meet with Auntie Pinau in Pupukea. At that
time she was described as "a smiling, gracious, adorable young
lady of eighty Hawaiian summers."
Pinau was the caretaker of Aikane the Kahuna, venerable last of the
priests of Polynesia. Harry Owens became friends with both Auntie
Pinau and Aikane, and in 1946 or 1947, when Aikane passed away, Pinau
was seen by neighbors "walking slowly, silently and alone, down
the mountain. In her arms she cradled a package, the size and shape
of a large book." She had mailed Aikane's Hawaiian Book of the
Dead, Onipaa, to Harry Owens...a great honor. "Auntie Pinau was
never seen nor heard from again. And, on the very night following
Auntie's disappearance, Pele, the Fire Goddess, had paid a visit
to the mountain and the Long House of Aikane. At dawn, only ashes
So we can deduce that Auntie Pinau Kalaukalani was born circa
1853...and passed away around 1946...thus making her about 93
when she died. She seems to have been quite famous in her day, and
knew all the important people of the time. Surely there's some
kind of record of her life somewhere.
Thanks for the intriguing story of Aunty Pinau. The poem you mention
was published in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin on June 11, 1935. It
carries the following note:
"Mr. Blanding, former Honolulan, now living in Hollywood, retains a
strong affection for the islands and for his friends here, to the
memory of one of whom, a Hawaiian woman he held in deep regard, he
dedicated these lines."
Very clearly, the poem speaks of Aunty Pinau's passing. However, I
have found no documentation of her death in reading the 1935 Star-
Bulletins. Perhaps Aunty Pinau simply disappeared from public view
about that time and everyone thought she was dead?
My next batch of microfilm will concentrate on the 1920s, but I do
have both 1946 and 1947 on the request list. Eventually we'll find
- I started looking at the Star-Bulletin microfilm from Jan-June 1922
in an attempt to find more portraits by Blanding, the start of the
Ajinomoto ads, and any general news on him.
On January 7th there is a six-paragraph story about him, with a large
photograph. The photo is the same as the one from the Rockford
newspaper which tells of his Mardis Gras Ball participation in 1920.
DON BLANDING TO TELL WOMEN WHAT COLORS TO WEAR
~Local Artist, Creator of Fish Decorations, to Lecture on Hues and
Shades at Mission Memorial Hall~
Don Blanding, an expert in color whose work for the Gurrey studio
during the past season has attracted considerable attention and
resulted in the creation of Hawaiian souvenirs of a distinct and
characteristic type, proposes to tell the women of Honolulu just what
hues and shades are conductive to a proper manifestation of their
particular and individual style of beauty.
"Color -- Its theory and Application" is the subject of a lecture
Blanding will give for women only at Mission Memorial Hall on the
11th, at 4 o'clock. Tickets will be sold at door.
The article goes on to explain some of Blanding's theories on color
theory and fashion. Isn't it amazing that Blanding was lecturing as
early as the beginning of 1922...almost two years before his first
book was even published. That man was blessed with the ability to
self promote himself.
He also appeared in the Outdoor Circle production of 'Rip Van Winkle'
in March of that year...but I haven't gotten to March yet.
- Dear Keith and Cadia
I believe that there could be two Auntie Pinau. The word Pinau has several
meanings and can refer to one who is very sociable,rascal, or even flighty.
It was not an uncommon name although it is often one that is earned later in
life and not necessarily a given name. Thus 1935 and 1946 could be two
Did Blanding ever mention Pupukea in reference to Auntie Pinau. I don't
remember him mentioning that she lived at Pupukea, Waimea or North Shore when
she wasn't at Kaupo. But you guys are the scholars. Thus I could believe
these were two different people.
PS I don't remember if I knew Auntie Pinau's last name "Kaukalani" when I
asked elders in the Hana, Kaupo area if they remember her. I will try again.
Of course you are right, there could be more than one Auntie Pinau. I
know that the one Blanding knew had the last name
of "Kalaukalani" ...so that's the only lead we have.