Joined OCC: September 22, 1966
Elected to Winged “O”: August 1, 1983
Henry Ayau’s background reveals an exceptional Hawaiian man of rich experience and high achievement. Whether it be working out on the paddleboard or fishing with the late great Duke Paoa Kahanamoku in the decades past, doing business or donating generous amounts of time to many fine organizations, it all adds up to a big man with a big heart.
The son of Henry and Mabel Duvauchelle Ayau of Hoolehua, Molokai, Henry Jr. distinguished himself in athletics in many ways and for a long time. Punahou School, Oregon State University, the OCC, the Honolulu Quarterback Club, and other organizations all benefited from his athletic abilities.
Not only did Henry serve, but he did so with distinction. He sat on the Board of Directors of the Honolulu Quarterback Club and on the Pan American World Airways Selection Committee.
Ayau was bestowed the honor of Winged “O” and supported our Club as a member of numerous committees including Admissions and Membership, Entertainment, Surfing, Tennis and Softball. He actually coached, chaired and played for the winning OCC Softball team.
He served on the Board of Directors as Coordinating Director for Admissions and Membership.
Henry coached the winningest canoe paddling teams ever in HCRA history.
His profound interest in canoeing notwithstanding, Henry was committed to the sport of surfing, too, as the owner of the Duke Kahanamoku Hawaiian Surfing Classic which he inherited from the Duke and Kimo McVay in 1968.
Henry worked out and kept Duke company for the last two years of Duke’s life. “We’d go on bill fishing trips to Lahaina together. Back on Oahu, we used to paddleboard to the Diamond Head buoy and back. We’d come in and eat poi, ground onions and corned beef hamburgers on the Hau Terrace. You won’t see that on the menu but they always kept a special stash for Duke in the back.”
The multi-talented Ayau was an entertainer and performed, produced or managed shows with such greats as Don Ho, John Rowles, Dick Jensen, Andy Bumatai and Tavana’s Polynnesian Spectacular.
As a member of the Entertainment Committee, he used his skills to put on the Club’s annual Luau in the 1990s, including bringing in his family and friends to build an imu on the Club beach to kalua the pig for the luau. He took pride in building a fire in the imu that when lit the smoke would go straight up, instead of into neighboring condos.
Ayau and his son Bruce were free diving off Oahu on July 10, 2000 when they speared a 113-pound ulua. ESPN sports television and Skin Diver magazine covered the feat which set a national record.
Ayau died on May 8, 2002 after he was found unconscious in the ocean off the Elks Club. He was wearing snorkeling gear when he was found by a surfer.
In 2002 the Club renamed a men’s long distance canoe race in his honor. The Henry Ayau race is from Maunalua Bay to Nanakuli Beach each year. It’s a race the Club always tries to win.
In 2004 the Club named a fiberglass canoe in his honor, the Henry Keawe Ayau.
Henry will always be remembered by members of the Outrigger Canoe Club as Mr. Aloha, with a plumeria behind his ear and a warm kind word for everyone.