Inspired by the courage and leadership of master navigator Nainoa Thompson ’72, a new financial aid fund was established on Sept. 15, 2017, by Franklin Tokioka Sr. ’54, Colbert and Gail Morikawa ’81 Matsumoto, and the Island Insurance Foundation.
“Nainoa is an exceptional leader,” said Colbert Matsumoto, chairman of the board of Island Insurance Company, Ltd. “We consider him to be one of Hawai’i’s most influential figures because the vision that he’s been able to articulate and realize is truly global.”
Island Insurance, Hawai’i’s only locally owned insurance company, was founded 78 years ago by Tokioka’s father, Masayuki, who helped many immigrants from plantations fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams by providing financial backing when no one else would. That same courage, leadership and vision is alive in Thompson, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. The group recently completed “Mālama Honua,” its most ambitious undertaking yet – sailing the traditional Hawaiian voyaging canoe Hōkūle’a around the world over three years to spread a message of aloha and care for the planet.
“I’m humbled by this gift,” said Thompson, noting that it honored not just him, but his parents and ancestors. “We’ve got to take care of the world and we need young people to do that, which is why the investment in the under 20 age group right now is so key. Those are the people who are going to have to figure out solutions for our future and we can’t do it without education, which is why Punahou is so important.”
President Jim Scott ’70 noted that essential 21st-century skills for success often mirror those of a navigator. “When thinking about how we educate the next generation to have an entrepreneurial mindset, it’s about a lot of things but ultimately it’s about being able to take risks. That’s why the story of the Hōkūle’a is such an inspiration for our students.”
The Nainoa Thompson ’72 Wayfinder Financial Aid Fund willsupport students who qualify for financial aid and have leadership potential in community service. Need-based student financial aid is a key priority of the Ku’u Punahou Campaign, which aims to increase the School’s restricted financial aid endowment by $40 million to secure long-term resources that will support a diverse student body and enable all qualified children to attend Punahou.
“Nainoa’s story is a tremendous model for young people in terms of what their potential might be,” added Matsumoto. “We’re going to need people who think big and are willing to lead in different ways to navigate the challenges that our society and our world will face in the future. We’ll all benefit if there are other young people who can come to this great school.”