Hana Pa'a Fishing Tournament - Y2K Feature

Photos and Story by Mike House


Y2K, what a tremendous year.  For some, the cliché is old, just another event that was hyped up to ridiculous proportions only to become the most anticlimactic non-event in recent history.   For Haleiwa’s Kenneth Terukine, however, Y2K had a whole new meaning. 

To smell the flowers, to watch the sun come up, to live like a child all over again, that’s what he wanted.  To witness the new Millennium, something his doctors said would never happen, was a dream to Terukine.  You see, he had cancer of the liver.

Terukine is, among other things, a fisherman from Haleiwa.  As he approached his senior years, he decided to build a new boat that could be used for anything the waters of the North Shore could produce.   Crabs, bottom fish, pelagic fish, trolling, hydraulics, didn’t matter.  The boat was designed and built to handle it.

As the fishing machine to be continued along in construction, Terukine needed to decide on a name.  But before he could get serious and concentrate on a name, he was suddenly diagnosed with cancer of the liver in September of 1998.  His doctors told him he would never live to see the new Millennium and would probably be dead by August of 1999.  Terukine thought to himself that if he could just make it to the Millennium, he could have his family all come to Hawaii to visit and have one last celebration before he passed away.  He was just fifty-nine years old.

He decided then and there that his new boat would be called “Millennium, Y2K.”  And as the rest of the world wearily prepared for the new thousand years, inundated with computer fears and marketing hype, Terukine thought about seeing his family one last time.

Y2K, the boat, neared completion, and long time friends from Kauai Jack Caneda and Kawika Moniz asked Terukine if they could enter the North Shore Hana Pa’a tournament with it.  Terukine said the boat was not ready to fish, and unless it could be safe, he would not allow it.  That was all Caneda needed to hear, and soon a rally of dozens of friends and family appeared with everyone pitching in something to get the boat ready.

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Kenneth Terukine


Terukine couldn’t help; he was “three-quarters dead,” as he described it, at the time.

Come May, Terukine’s doctors told him about a new injection treatment whereby an alcohol solution was injected into the area of the tumor to slow the cancer.  Though not a cure, it would buy Terukine time while a liver donation could be secured. 

Running on borrowed time, Terukine and the friends and family of Y2K worked diligently to get the boat running in time for the tournament.  Finally it was ready, and the team entered.  For three grueling days, Caneda and Moniz braved rough seas and wet conditions with a mission.  Every fish they caught and landed on deck resulted in another phone call to Terukine to keep him abreast of their status. 

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Y2K prepares to weigh their fish in the 2000 Hana Pa'a

On day three, Y2K was in the lead, but Rusty Spencer on the Kuuloa Kai had a huge Marlin that threatened to take over the first position.  After Spencer’s fish was scaled at 509 pounds, the Kuuloa Kai did in fact take over first place, meaning the boys on Y2K had to produce 301.5 pounds to reclaim the lead and the victory.  For most anglers, 300 pounds in a single day of trolling is a huge task, but for the Y2K boys on a mission for their friend lying in bed, that tally proved to be an easy target.   They weighed in three more Ahi for a total of 533 pounds for day three, thus giving them a total of 1034 pounds and the $10,662.50 grand prize for the tournament.

Caneda and Moniz were so overwhelmed with emotion over their accomplishment and the condition of Terukine that they went to Haleiwa Joe’s after the tournament to simply be together.  Assistant manager Beth Smith remembered it well.  She recalls the whole group celebrated together, huddled in the bar area, crying and laughing, unsure of what to do.  Emotions poured out and the boys suddenly declared they were going to donate 100% of the winnings to Terukine for his medical bills.  Smith said the restaurant stayed open well into the night as everyone spent the evening together in a bittersweet celebration of life.


Terukine appreciated the gesture of the donation, but refused to accept more than his small share of the winnings for putting up the boat.   He felt the team earned it, risked their lives and poured their hearts into the tournament, and should be paid accordingly.  Even as the reaper was beating a path to his doorway, Terukine remained the model of strength. 

Following the tournament, Terukine was in terrible shape.  His family feared his doctors were right and he would never see the new Millennium.  Terukine himself said he mentally prepared for his mortality more than a few times.  He went to the hospital a couple of times after being told a suitable liver was available, but both times they weren’t compatible with his body.  Elation and gut-wrenching disappointment within hours became difficult to cope with.

After one meeting with his doctors, Terukine lay waiting to die.   They came into his room and said they needed to perform a surgery to inspect and determine if the cancer had spread.  They told him if the cancer had spread, they were going to send him home to be with his family. 

Fortunately, as the doctors opened him up, they found the cancer had not spread to other parts of his body, and there was still hope.  Then, on July 24th, 1999, just a month after his boat won the tournament, Terukine got the transplant he had so patiently waited for.  He went to the hospital, prepared for surgery, and hoped he would survive.  At one point during the surgery, his heart arrested for three minutes, adding to the already dire situation.

But he made it through surgery, and Terukine got his new lease on life.  Two more weeks in the hospital was required to recover, and when he came home, he was very weak.  Brushing his teeth and walking, two things most of us consider as mundane as the turning of the Millennium itself, were tasks requiring intense assistance.   But it looked like he was going to see Y2K, the year, after all.

Terukine’s strength grew, and soon he was able to walk.  He even went for a few rides on Y2K, the boat, on days when the seas were calm.  Though he could never go to sea to earn his living again, Terukine did get to see the new Millennium, and his family visited from all over the country.  They celebrated Y2K at their home with Kalua pig and all the fixings, and as the fireworks began to erupt in Haleiwa, even Joe Lazarus of the famous Haleiwa Joe’s was at his side to help usher time in.

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The crew of Y2K in the 2000 Hana Pa'a


Now, sitting under his lean-to at his home in Halewia directly across from the harbor and looking every bit as healthy as the family surrounding him, Terukine reflects on what the Millennium meant to him.  Each day the sun rises in his bedroom window he looks up, thanking the Lord that he is still alive.  Each day he watches as the fishermen of Haleiwa go to sea and is glad to see them return.  And as he watched Caneda and Moniz run his boat in the 2000 North Shore Hana Pa’a, he knew he had a new lease on life.  Not only had his boat beaten the rest of the incredible anglers entered in the tournament, he had beaten his cancer.

For this Haleiwa man, Y2K meant more than an elevator missing its computer signal or a hard drive crash in Bangkok,or even his boat winning the 1999 Hana Pa’a tournament.  For him, Y2K meant life itself.

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1999 Hana Pa'a Tournament Report featuring Y2K

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