Duke Kahanamoku's niece dies
September 21, 2017 | 80° | Check Traffic

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Duke Kahanamoku’s niece dies


Friends and family are planning a final sail aboard the Hokulea for two prominent members of the Polynesian Voyaging Society who died this week.

Jo-Anne Kahanamoku Sterling died Friday morning in her home in Kona, said daughter Patty Teruya. She was 80. An autopsy will determine an exact cause of death.

Leon Paoa Sterling, Kahanamoku Sterling’s former husband of 35 years, died Thursday on Maui, Teruya said.

“They went together,” Teruya said. “It was such a love story.”

Kahanamoku Sterling, niece of legendary waterman Duke Kahanamoku, was a female crewmember of the Polynesian Voyaging Society from 1977 to 1998, according to the Bishop Museum.

She participated in numerous sails throughout the Society Islands, Tonga, New Zealand, Rapa Nui, Samoa, the Cook Islands and Hawaii. She participated in a 34-day voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti in 1980.

The couple sailed together on the voyage to Tahiti in 1980, Teruya said.

Kahanamoku Sterling, who was born in Tahiti, was known for her skill in Hawaiian feather making, and her artwork remains on display at the Hilton Hawaiian Village and the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua on Maui. She perpetuated Hawaiian culture through her work with numerous community groups.

Teruya is working with the Voyaging Society to have her mother’s ashes picked up on the Big Island and carried back to Oahu on Friday. Her mother wanted her remains spread off Waikiki like her uncles.


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