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Hata Foundation all in to get name recognition

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The newly established Hata Foundation, which helps other nonprofits—including Hawaii Foodbank, Child and Family Services and the Next Step Shelter—was working hard to figure out a way to get its name out there so its mission can take flight.

"In turbulent times it’s so difficult to solicit, and if you’re a new foundation it’s even much more difficult," said Liz Hata-Watanabe, a founder. Hata-Watanabe is from the family that founded Y. Hata & Co., a top Hawaii food distributor and the former owner of the O Lounge and Harbor Court Bistro. She is hapai with her third child and has embarked upon her third business—though it is a nonprofit.

She has come up with a novel awareness-building tactic: a reality poker show, called "Hawaii’s Big Deal."

The show will air on KHON-TV on Saturdays at 5:30 p.m., starting Aug. 7. "Right before the news, a great time slot," Hata-Watanabe said.

"We’re going to put on a really great tournament for people so that we can get the name of the foundation out there … to further our work helping Hawaii’s keiki," she said.

However, "Hawaii’s Big Deal" involves no gambling, Hata-Watanabe said.

The winner of each 13-week season will receive a trip for two to Las Vegas where accommodations, food and other perks will be provided by the Golden Nugget. The winners of each season will also battle it out in a final tournament after one year for a similar but larger prize.

Foundation director Matt Matsunaga, a former state senator who is also a CPA and an attorney, was instrumental in crafting the show’s rules. Other directors and members include Tammy Kubo and "all the Hata kids. … We’re kind of doing this together."

Players for the show will be chosen randomly from those who register free online through the foundation website when it goes live Thursday.

It will be shot by IMF Visions at Aloha Tower Marketplace beginning July 26 from 5 to 7:30 p.m., and shoots are open to the public. The show’s host will be Gregg Hammer of the Gregg Hammer Band and Clear Channel Radio’s KDNN-FM 98.5.

OHA radio’s new direction

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ refurbished radio show, "Na Oiwi Olino," will debut at 7 a.m. Thursday and will repeat daily from 5 to 6 p.m. on KKNE-AM 940.

The overhauled show’s mission remains the same: to "provide information on current events and hot issues such as the native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act as it nears passage," said OHA Chief Executive Officer Clyde Namu’o in a statement.

The show will also air on Oceanic Digital Cable 856 and will stream online via its website.

It will be hosted by Randy Hudnall, said Ed Nishioka, OHA communications and media manager. Hudnall is the afternoon host on KKNE sister station KINE-FM 105.1, owned by Cox Radio Inc.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Advertiser. Reach her by e-mail at


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