A Hawaiian Life (Book)


A Hawaiian Life
George Kahumoku, Jr. and Paul Konwiser
Foreword by George Winston
Illustrated by George Kahumoku, Jr.



George Kahumoku, Jr., the Hawaiian slack key guitar player, is a superb story teller. He has always wanted to write some of these stories down, and finally has. If you’ve had the opportunity to see George in concert, you may have heard some of them, or parts of them. They are highly personal, and distinctly Hawaiian.

George was raised mostly by grandparents, and in some respects he is like a Hawaiian of a generation or two earlier. But he is also a thoroughly modern fellow who’s traveled the world, played music for the Queen of England, and gotten a mainland college degree. He has even been known to carry around a notebook computer from time to time.

These are tales of poverty and tough times that illustrate the difficulties of growing up Hawaiian in a modern western setting. But more than anything, these stories will make you laugh. This is principally because of George’s sense of humor and his ability to overcome life’s obstacles with an upbeat attitude and good grace and above all, a very traditional spirit of Aloha.

About the Author

George Kahumoku, Jr. was raised in the old ways, with a large family. He worked the land and the sea and grew up with the music of his people. By the time he was 12 years of age, he was playing professionally with the legendary and influential Kui Lee (“I’ll Remember you” , “Lahainaluna”, etc.).

After graduating from the Kamehameha Schools in 1969, he went on to get a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Oakland’s California College of Arts and Crafts. Not only has he achieved recognition and accolades for his music (Hoku awards in 1979 and 2000), and his art ( sculpture, etc.), but also for his skills and experience with the land, with several state-wide and national awards for farming. In 1993 he graduated from the Hawai’i State Agricultural Leadership Program.

George is a community leader as well, working with children in native language studies, farming, and other programs, and teaches the Special Motivation Program at Lahainaluna High School. Auntie Nona Beamer has dubbed George “Hawai’i’s Renaissance Man”, because he is one ofthe few who still knows the old ways — farming, fishing and herbs — and can survive on the land, and yet gets up every morning and works the internet, fielding international requests for his CDs and performances.


  1. Foreword, George Winston
  2. Introduction
  3. Acknowledgments
  4. Da Stories
  5. Ping! Ping! Thuck! – a Hawaiian child learns about storytelling from an expert
  6. Almost Dead at Six Weeks Old – How a brushh with death as an infant turned out to be a lucky break
  7. A Stubborn Child – George busts up his first ukulele
  8. The 13 Fight Chicken – Another “unlucky” break keeps George on the straight and narrow
  9. George Turns Pro – A major career move at age 12
  10. Going for a New Record – George and friends write 200 songs in two weeks
  11. A Shark Attacks – George makes a connection with his past
  12. Going First – Modesty pays a big cash dividend
  13. When Electricity Hit Kealia – The arrival of modern times ruins a business
  14. Cancer – Some help from the ancients to cure a disease
  15. Keoki’s Debut – A young man begins his musical career, helped by Dad
  16. A Fishy Hotel – George among the tourists
  17. He Had A Dream – A dream comes true
  18. Looking for a Grandfather – A trail of music leads to his missing grandfather

Kealia Press
Lahaina, Hawaii