Gone Fishin’ For a Good Cause

The 8th Annual Keiki Tilapia Fishing Tournament at the Kaanapali Golf Courses on Maui

May 16, 2017

The Kaanapali Golf Courses are 36 holes of immaculate greens and breathtaking views of the Kaanapali resort area of Maui, known for its pristine, three-mile beach.

In addition to the thousands of golfers who play the two courses every year, hundreds of keiki (children) congregate at the Kaanapali Golf Course Pond to take part in another sport altogether — fishing.

Maui Electric’s annual Keiki Tilapia Fishing Tournament — currently its eighth year — invites 600 keiki from across Maui to take part in a two-hour “tag-and-release” event, and vie for the biggest catch of the day in different age categories. The Tournament is a benefit for Maui United Way (MUW), a non-profit that raises and invests corporate and individual donations in 33 health and human services partner agencies, and 34 programs, to benefit the Maui County community (consisting of the islands of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai).

This year, the Tournament raised more than $20,000 for MUW, a testament to the generous support of the Maui community — as well as the popularity of the event!

With the 600 keiki came approx. 1,400 of their parents, family members and friends, cheering on their young fishermen and women and providing wisdom — welcome or not — on the best techniques, bait, and lures to tag the fish.

“Thank you to our community partners, Maui Electric and Kaanapali Golf Course, who coordinate and host this amazing event for our keiki,” said Kari Luna Nunokawa, Maui United Way president and chief professional officer. “We appreciate all of the love that goes into preparing and hosting this tournament that supports Maui United Way and our efforts to help those who need it the most in our community.”

More than 100 Maui Electric employees and their families dedicated 300+ volunteer hours to help organize this year’s event.

“Our Maui Electric ohana (family) looks forward to coordinating this beloved outing that benefits such an important organization in our community,” said Sharon Suzuki, Maui Electric president.

“I’ve been on the Maui United Way committee for four to five years now,” said Cheyene Hoshino, a Power Supply statistical clerk at Maui Electric. “Every year, this tournament is what Maui looks forward to. If you have keiki, this is the must-go event of the year. People make traditions here, they bring their families every year.”

Although the modern incarnation of the Tournament has been running for eight years, the event has quite a long history in Maui.

“I used to come here as a kid, my wife used to come here as a kid too,” said Lowell, a resident of Lahaina, Maui. “It was a good thing for the keiki. Now it’s my kids’ turns to enjoy the same experiences we had. It’s good that we continue traditions.”

Among the largest tilapia by age category awards, the Largest Tilapia of the Day — or the “Tilapa-Whoppa” Award — went to Austin Nishida, whose catch came in at a whoppin’ 959 grams.

Maui Electric president Sharon Suzuki with “Tilapa-Whoppa” award winner Austin Nishida