Our Islands, Our Future

MEDB and Hawaii have lost a dear friend and inspiring leader with the passing of Pono Shim. The President and CEO of our sister organization, Oahu Economic Development Board, Pono was a gifted and respected visionary and storyteller. We were honored to share his presentation on True Aloha at the Hawaii Small Business Conference where he said, “A true leader works to bridge the members of the community, giving dignity to whom they are and what they have to offer” – words he inspired through his own actions.

Pono shared Aloha insights with many an audience over the years where he would provide techniques he learned at a young age from Lahaina-born Auntie Pilahi Paki. Auntie Pilahi wrote the Aloha Spirit Law (Hawaii Revised Statutes, Section 5-7.5) that was passed by Hawaii lawmakers in 1986. “According to the Aloha Spirit Law, all Hawaii citizens and government officials must conduct themselves with aloha, which is a real commitment to accepting others,” said Pono. Auntie Pilahi explained that the five values that make up the Aloha Spirit Law are: A: Akahai, meaning kindness, expressed with tenderness; L: Lokahi, meaning unity, expressed with harmony; O: ‘Olu’olu, meaning agreeable, expressed with pleasantness; H: Ha’aha’a, meaning humility, expressed with modesty; and A: Ahonui, meaning patience, waiting for the moment, expressed with perseverance.

Pono noted, “A person cannot do one of the principles without truly doing all. If you are not doing one you are not doing any. So, to be living Aloha is to live all of the principles.”

Pono served in leadership on many boards in Hawaii (Friends of Iolani Place, Economic Development Alliance of Hawaii, Hawaii Green Growth, Hawaii Public Housing Authority and Small Business Development Corporation) with his knowledge and skills sought by every sector of Hawaii.

In the words of Auntie Pilahi who knew the world would look to Hawaii for healing. “Aloha would be its remedy,” she said. We send strength and healing to Pono’s family and his vast circle of friends and colleagues.

Pono’s Celebration of Life will take place at 10.30am on May 7th at Bishop Memorial Chapel of the Kamehameha Schools Kapalama Campus on Oahu. Masks will be required.

Leslie Wilkins, President and CEO, MEDB