History of the Hui Nalu O Hawaii Canoe Club

Hui Nalu Canoe Club History
1908 to early 1970’s

An impressively large wave rolled into shore at Waikiki as three young men sat pensively under the hau tree in front of the Moana Bath House. The year was 1908, the young men were Knute Cottrell, Kenneth Winter, and Duke Kahanamoku, their dilemma what to name a new hui or club. As the wave grew in speed and size Kenny shouted “Nalu” and the three simultaneously shouted “Hui Nalu”. A most appropriate name for the “Club of the Waves” whose members would challenge and give much needed competition to the other new Waikiki club, the Outrigger Canoe Club.

Hui Nalu was guided by Edward K. “Dude” Miller the only Canoe Captain on Waikiki Beach. He was renowned for his expertise in canoeing, surfing, and swimming during the day and his outstanding musical talent and ability directing his own orchestra at night. Dude served as the Club President and Captain from its inception in 1908 through 1910 and Commodore, Manager, and Beloved Skipper until his death in 1935. Members met under the hau tree on the Moana Hotel lawn and the Moana bathhouse served as their club room. The dues were one dollar a year which included the privilege of having a black hook on which the member could hang his clothes. Dude was a disciplinarian and all club rules were strictly enforced or members were barred from the club room and the use of their clothes hook until reinstated. One of their unique rules was not allowing one strap of their long and itchy woolen bathing suit to slip down for ease and comfort. Another, surfboards were not to be upended against a building where they might fall on unwary passersby.

The primary goal was to develop Hawaii’s young and talented athletes to vie for supremacy on the waves and also to play water polo on their surfboards, to race their canoes in paddling and sailing competition, and to develop top notch swimmers for island as well as mainland competition. Though many of the members had dual membership in Hui Nalu and the Outrigger Canoe Club, there were many that could not afford the expense. These young men showed their ingenuity and their ambition to be a success by donating part of their meager earnings derived from taking the tourists for canoe and surfboard ride to the club. This plus the 6 dollars a year Hui Nalu dues made it possible for many young athletes who would otherwise
have not been able to compete, prestige on the beach, the security of belonging, and the meaning of team spirit under most capable leadership.

Another display of their adeptness for raising money was the Hui Nalu Follies, February 11-13, 1914. These Follies were made possible by the able assistance of Honolulu’s fair young ladies Lorna Jarrett Desha, Mele Williams L’Orange, Pleiades and Ina Colburn, Ellen Dwight Smythe, Hazel Williams Auchbach, Bernice Kahanamoku Lee, Eleanor Holt Desha, Charlotte Dorsett Morris, Laura Low Gay, Fenella Miles, and Anna Harrison.
The musical talent, natural showmanship and long hard hours of rehearsals spearheaded by Ned Steele, Lew Henderson and Watson Ballentyne paid off with a “Smash Hit” at the Opera House which was located on the Ewa side of Kamehaneha’s statue where the Federal Building now stands. Ernest Parker’s artistic abilities were reflected in the visual effects of staging and costuming and the program was so unique and such a success, was repeated the following week. Patronesses of this successful endeavor were among others, Her Majesty Queen Liliuokalani, the Princess Kalanianaole and notable matrons Mrs. Henry G. Smart, Mrs. Robert W. Shingle, Mrs. Walter Macfarlane, and Mrs. George Beckley. It was for these Follies that Ned Steele and Watson Ballentyne put the following words to the then popular tune, “I Love You, California”:


We love you Hui Nalu
Our club of the ocean waves
And we shall never cease to love
Our royal colors brave
Firm friendship will entwine you
Round our hearts where’ere we go
We shan’t forget the fellows
Who adore and love you so


Where the wild ocean waves are a’ foaming
Our fellows are sure to be
Where the big rollers burst
And the surf is the worst
We’ll be there and yell with glee………. (Hip Hip Hurray!!!)
With our surfboards we always are ready
To leap in the deep blue sea
Our royal black and gold
In victory will unfold
Always on top

The heavy passenger canoe, the “Black Maria” that Dude used to take his tourists out into the waiting surf was quickly pressed into service to train these young men no longer paddling in their old lazy way, but bearing down on their paddles in preparation for the surprise they would hand their competition, Some of the old timers that enthusiastically join the club were

Billy Campbell,
Sam Mahelona,
Bill Jordon,
George Ii and Francis Ii Brown,
Harold and Alfred Castle,
Kaniau and Francis”Doc” Evans,
Spider and Luther Evans,
Francis Bowers,
Jack and Ainsley Mackenzie,
Bill Dickson,
W.H.D, “Bill” King,
Watson Ballentyne,
Jack, Harold and Ernest Lishman,
Henry and George Beckley,
Louis, David, Sam, William and Sergeant Kahanamoku,
Dan, William and Major Keaweanahi,
Buck Kahele,
George Manoha,
Boy, Audie and Tommy Holstein,
Fred Wilhelm,
Bob Kaawa,
Harry Steiner,
Ludy Langer,
John D. Lukela Kaupiko,
Kim Wai, Allen “Carnegie” Wilcox,
Kaipo Kalei,
Archie Robertson,
George Harris,
Zen Genoves,
Fred Lucas,
George Froeth,
Curtis Hustace,
Joseph Bishaw,
Hilo and Cleghorn Boyd,
Willie and Jimmy Whittle,
Clair Tait,
Iona Jonah,
Henry Kane,
William Dole,
Bob Purvis,
Leon Sterling,
Bill Hollinger,
Ted Cooper,
Ned Steele,
Lew Henderson and many more.

It was during the Presidency of Judge William Rawlins from 1911 through 1916, that the Amateur Athletic-Union was formed. In the first Aquatic Meet of the AAU on August 12, 1911, Hui Nalu took first place in all eleven events with members Vincent Genoves, Watson Ballentyne, Duke Kahanamoku, Edwin Gibb, W. A. Cottrell, Dan and Major Keaweamahi, Lukela Kaupiko, Harold Hustace, Pat O’Sullivan, Archibald Robertson, Hiram P. Kahela and Harold Lishman. Harvey Chilton, one of the best trainers and masseurs had joined the club and under his able training produced these fine swimmers. Because of the scarcity of swimming pools in Honolulu and through the generosity of Thelma Parker Smart, the Hui Nalu team was invited and did train in the swimming pool at her home in Manoa. The team needed unifrom swim suits so when Dude found a mainland outlet that would let him have black swim suits cheap, he suggested a contrasting band of gold and hence the black and gold colors of Hui Nalu. The Hui Nalu boys were happy with their club colors but even happier with the price of their new suits fifty cents.

In February, 1912, Duke left Honolulu to take part in the Olympic tryouts held in different U.S. cities. All his expenses were paid for by the Hui Nalu Club with money raised by subscriptions and donations. Then in June, he left for Stockholm with the rest of the U.S. Olympic team where he went on to fame. The following year Riley Allen, the Editor of the Honolulu Star Bulletin, received a letter from Otto Wahle of the AAU Record Committee in which he said: “I take great pleasure to make use of this opportunity to inform you that I would not mind to have it known publicly that not only Duke Kahanamoku’s performances (which is understood) but also his conduct have reflected nothing but credit upon the organization who have stood as his sponsors. I have been in charge of the swimming team of the U.S. at the last Olympic games and during a trip to the German championships at Hamburg and my memories of Duke are most pleasant in every respect.”

Hui Nalu continued to dominate the AAU meets and on June 18, 1913, left Honolulu aboard the SS Wilhelmina to challenge the top West Coast teams. After arriving in San Francisco, the Hui Nalu swimmers trained for three weeks then took the Pacific Coast Championships at Sutro Baths in San Francisco on July 4th and 5th with a total 34 points. The nearest club, point wise to Hui Nalu was Redondo with a score of 18 points. They brought home two large silver cups, one for winning the most points and one for winning the relay (300 yds – Hustace, Kaupiko, King and Kahanamoku). From San Francisco they entered the Los Angeles Athletic Club Meet where they once again emerged victorious. In a press release from W. T. Rawlins to the Honolulu Star Bulletin was the following: “The boys have worked hard, and their manner and behavior have been the admiration of all who have come in contact with them.”

Although, Hui Nalu was renowned for its championship swimmers both here in Hawaii and on the mainland, equally successful were the paddlers in their canoes, surfers on their boards both on the waves and playing water polo on their boards in the relatively calm water in front of the Outrigger Canoe Club, and sailing their outriggers in the waters off Waikiki. Many members excelled in all these sports and their pride of achievement paralleled their pride of their club and of those leaders who led them and stood by them through both trying times and jubilant victories.

So, well were the Hui Nalu paddlers trained that one Old Timer recalled the early races as “Winning by hardly anything less than six to eight canoe lengths”. In 1930, the Hui Nalu Senior Crew won the blue-ribbon event of the First Kamehameha Day Regatta bringing home the beautiful Los Angeles Steamship Company silver trophy. The Moana bathhouse continued to serve as their clubhouse until 1939 when they were asked to vacate the premises as the hotel needed to remodel the facility for a beach service for their guests. Regatta days in Honolulu Harbor were colorful with much music and cheering from the respective clubs and supporters. Healani and Myrtle Boat Clubs had club houses on the water’s edge of the harbor and their lanai and boat ramps were always full to overflowing with cheering spectators.

In September 1935, Hui Nalu’s beloved Dude Miller passed away after having served the club in so many different capacities but perhaps the most significant as Father, Disciplinarian, and Guardian of all the young aspiring athletes for 27 years. His shoes were difficult ones to fill and fortunately for Hui Nalu Lukela Kaupiko accepted the challenge. He was known as “John D.” and affectionately as “Old Man” for his manner was as expansive as Rockefeller’s purse. With a firm but loving hand he guided his club through many victories and many adversities. When Hui Nalu had to vacate the Moana, he moved his clubhouse under a hau tree next to the Outrigger and his home was the store room for all the Hui Nalu equipment which wasn’t much.

Perhaps the most famous of the Hui Nalu canoes is the Lio Keo Keo or the White Horse donated by Dr. Alfred C. Hall and named after the white caps of the waves off the old Grays Beach next to the Halekulani Hotel. Many a race was won in this revered boat and though she is old and worn, only the deepest love and respect is shown her by today’s paddlers.

As hard as Hui Nalu and the Outrigger tried to keep the interest in paddling alive there was a definite slump commencing and during the duration of World War II. It wasn’t until the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association came into being in 1950 that the real spark was reignited and more clubs were formed to compete once again in racing. By then, John D. had moved his boys to the Ala Wai Canal as Hui Nalu was still without a home and Walkiki Beach was at a premium. It really didn’t matter to the paddlers where they were as long as they had John D, to guide them and teach them for he truly exemplified the spirit of Hui Nalu.

In 1954 his boys won the Molokai to Oahu Canoe race in the borrowed “Malolo” as the Lio Keo Keo was being refurbished. Whether they were the young beginners or the seasoned seniors, all loved the “Old Man”. In 1962, Hui Nalu once again lost a beloved leader and once again a seemingly impossible void to be filled.

A year passed and it looked as though Hui Nalu was to be a club of the past until founder Dude Miller’s brother and longtime member Kenneth “Enay” Makinney stepped into the picture. He quickly sought the help of the other dedicated members Kim Wai, Gilmer Shingle, George Ii Brown Jr., Richard Sutton, Joe Akana, Adrian McPherson, Ernest Steiner, Fred Paoa, Red Mcqueen and Sargent Kahanamoku. He then persuaded Louis Kahanamoku to serve as Captain and Head Coach and once again the Li Keo Keo was pressed into service along with Toots Minville’s “Niuhi” and the fiber glass canoe “Mehe Manu Ala”.

The 1963 Walter Macfarlane Regatta was like old times once again between Hui Nalu  and their long-time friendly rival Outrigger with Hui Nalu winning in very close competition. Since then the club has had many outstanding teams such as the team of 1972 that won the First Around Oahu Canoe Race in 19 hours and 50 minutes under coach Sam Mokuahi’s direction. That same year Hui Nalu won the Oahu Championship Regatta by edging out rival Healani.