Kamehameha Schools Trustee Corbett Kamoa Kalama once went from paddling the Moloka‘i Channel to a Kamehameha Schools graduation without missing a stroke. He once brought a roomful of bankers to tears with a powerful performance of the haka. He once paid the full KS tuition for a Native Hawaiian keiki out of the kindness of his heart.
These and other mo‘olelo were shared by members of the KS ‘ohana recently as they bid a heartfelt “Aloha” to Kalama, whose term as KS trustee ended on June 30. The stories speak to his strength of character and deep devotion to Princess Pauahi and our lāhui.
“We as people should behave like ancestors, not descendants – always mindful of the footprint we leave for future generations,” said KS CEO Jack Wong at Kalama’s farewell pā‘ina. “Corbett is an ancestor living among us, who represents the spirit, culture and deep wisdom of our people. We love you, we honor you and we appreciate your service to Pauahi and our people.”
With that, Wong presented Kalama with a Kamehameha Warriors football helmet signed by KS leaders. Kalama played tight end for the Kailua High School Surfriders football team.
“This helmet is symbolic of you being a warrior for Kamehameha Schools,” Wong said. “A warrior for life. We hope and pray that you will always be on our team.”
The daylong farewell celebration for Kalama included pule, oli, mele, mana‘o, and the presentation of treasured makana. A man of great humility, Kalama was at times visibly uncomfortable with being the center of attention. But he graciously let the wave of aloha wash over him. And when given the opportunity to speak directly to KS employees, he shared what was in his heart.
“You folks have been like the many stars in the heavens,” Kalama said. “Millions of promises, millions of aspirations and millions of dreams will come true because of you and the kuleana that you embrace. The acknowledgement of what you do may not be very visible to you, but when you look around you’ll see that Hawai‘i has benefitted from every single one of you – one person at a time, one task at a time.”
In addition to the autographed football helmet, the KS ‘ohana also showed its gratitude to Kalama with the following makana:
Although his term with Kamehameha Schools has come to an end, Kalama will continue to serve the community as executive vice president of the Weinberg Foundation’s Hawaiʻi office.