|The idea germinated not long after the 1974 founding of the “Hawaiian
Businessmen’s Association”, which, of course, became the Native
Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce.
The idea was that a “Hall of Fame” to honor Hawaiians in business
and the professions who had excelled in their chosen fields should be established.
Early on, it was decided that those honored should be recognized not only for
their financial success in business or contributions in their chosen professional
field, but be given merit for their contributions to the communities, especially
the Hawaiian communities, they were a part of. Each, it was thought, could serve
as a paragon for younger Hawaiians to emulate in their own lives. Accordingly,
although their success would primarily be measured against western standards,
one necessary criterion would be that such success must have been achieved in
uniquely Hawaiian ways or with adherence to our Hawaiian values or both.
At the time of its establishment in 1976, it was the late Senator Richard Lyman,
Jr. (himself to become a recipient of the award in 1986) who suggested that
the award should be given the name “The ‘O‘o Award”
and that the symbol of the award be the ‘O‘o Award. His reasoning
was that the primary tool of the Hawaiian mahi‘ai (farmer) was the ‘O‘o
digging stick and that it would become a very apt symbol of the hard work that
each future recipient of the award would have had to do in order to excel in
life and, thus, become a salutary example for others.
The 'O'O is a symbol of recognition for Hawaiian business professionals who
have excelled in our community.
The 'O'O Award honors men and women who have demonstrated skill, creativity,
innovation and industry - all key ingredients for survival and success in ancient
and modern Hawaii.
Each year, the Chamber recognizes Native Hawaiian business or professional
persons for exemplary achievement in business, the professions or community