You could think of Josiah “Uncle Black” Ho‘ohuli as an unofficial ambassador for his hometown of Nanakuli. He’ll gladly take the curious around to discover the histories and tales that seem to be hidden in plain sight. If anyone should know, it would be Ho‘ohuli, who’s a fixture at Nanakuli High School and loves everything about his West Side town. His father owned the bus line that took people between the Wai‘anae Coast at Kaka‘ako, and he says, “I pretty much know everyone here.” When asked about his youth, he chuckles about being “naughty” but adds that he joined the Marine Corps for a change of scenery.
Ho‘ohuli humbly adds that he likes to get involved in the community, pointing out that people recognize him and others as the elders in Nanakuli. “You have to pay attention to the kupuna,” he says. He credits his late wife, Leina, as the source of his humility. They were married for over 40 years and together they had three boys and three girls. Grandkids? “I don’t know, I can’t keep count—that’s the parent’s job,” he chuckles. Ever the gracious host, he enjoys sharing the beauty of Nanakuli with guests, even those from beyond Hawaii. A few years back, he took a spur-of-the-moment trip to New Zealand that proved to be life-changing. “I hooked up with some good people … I decided to do a cultural exchange,” he says. “It was completely different, and I really wanted to learn more.” Now, his Kiwi friends know that “Uncle Black” will always take care of them when they’re in town.