Hanapepe Heritage Media Center opens Friday

Storybook Theater of Hawai’i social media manager and go-to girl Tiffany Gampong said she didn’t know former US Senator Spark Matsunaga’s 105th birthday coincides with the new Heritage Media Center at the Storybook Theater this Friday. next.

“I grew up in the area just behind Hanapepe Park,” said Gampong, walking through the special exhibit in honor of Sparky. “But I did not know the Matsunaga family or the senator.”

The late Matsunaga was from Kaua’i.

A limited number of tickets are still available online through Eventbrite at: tgilinks.com/3A9Czta for the event which runs from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and will include a special treat, sake tasting and kampai. (“Cheers”, or, literally, “empty your glasses”) of sake thanks to the efforts of World Sake which brought the drink from Hiroshima Prefecture to Matsunaga.

Friday’s event will adhere to current COVID-19 health and safety rules, including the wearing of face masks, social distancing and hand sanitization.

“We want the Sparky statue to be loaded with lei,” said Mark Jeffers, director of the Storybook Theater. “People can walk around Sparky’s Garden and enjoy special entertainment from Michael Barretto & Friends and Cindy Combs from 6.30pm after kampai, which is scheduled to take place around 6pm.”

Gampong will be behind the scenes when the Heritage Media Center unveils the new podcast, “Sparky would go,” a talk with kumu Sabra Kauka and the Nualolo ‘Ohana in the specially created viewing theater.

Other facets of the Heritage Media Center include a reproduction of a plantation-era kitchen – the most important room in the house, using items on loan from the community and Gerald Hirata.

The tour moves to the Cultural Zone, where keiki can organize hands-on activities with several make-and-take-out items, and a culturally historical pohaku exhibit on loan from the Kaua’i Museum.

An interactive competition, this one in Pidgin English, allows people to move through the Matsunaga exhibit, with artifacts provided by the family of the late senator, including relatives who still live in Hanapepe.

“Gerald Hirata of Kaua’i Soto Zen Temple will also be on hand with special clothing from the era of Senator Spark Matsunaga so people can put them on for a photo at the statue,” said Jeffers, passing the special setup from oral history to the media library. “Gerald is also full of stories from the plantation days. We only recorded Mamo Kaneshiro recently when we were supposed to organize the Koloa Plantation Days.

There is a bronze statue of Matsunaga in the Peace Garden of the theater.

Discourse about the past sparked Gampong’s memories of living in Hanapepe as a child.

“We and the elders were playing in front of the Banana Patch art studios – back then it was a pool hall,” Gampong said. “Even this Storybook Theater building. I remember it wasn’t that pretty back then. The goal of the Heritage Media Center is to educate the younger generation about how far we have come from where we are.


Dennis fujimoto, the editor can be reached at 245-0453 or [email protected]

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