Skip to content

PHOTOS & VIDEO: In Hilo, Senator Hirono Meets with Lahainaluna Students, Visits Local Businesses, and Tours Puainako Repaving Project

~ Senator Hirono met with Lahainaluna students participating in Merrie Monarch, spoke with small businesses, and viewed a federally funded repaving project in Hilo ~

HONOLULU, HI – Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) spent the day in Hilo where she met with Lahainaluna students participating in the 61st Annual Merrie Monarch Festival, toured small businesses participating in this year’s 8th Hawaii on the Hill, and viewed the Puainako Paving Project at Waiakea Intermediate School.

“During my visit to Hilo, I spent the day meeting with students and businessowners, and viewed a local infrastructure project funded by the federal government,” said Senator Hirono. “As we continue our support for Maui’s recovery from last year’s wildfires, it was great to see Lahainaluna students—honored guests of this year’s Merrie Monarch Festival—while they were being hosted by the YMCA of Hawaii Island, as they prepared to perform later in the evening. Hawaii Island is also home to many successful local businesses, and as we get ready to welcome some of these businesses to Washington, D.C. for Hawaii on the Hill, I enjoyed connecting with these entrepreneurs and learning more about their work. And the Puainako Street infrastructure project, which has received funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, will provide much needed repairs to improve road safety for students and the Hilo community.”

Senator Hirono started the day meeting with 15 students from Lahainaluna High School on Maui who are participating in the Merrie Monarch Festival. The students are members of the Papa Hula O Lahainaluna halau and are being hosted by the YMCA of Hawaii Island during their visit to Hilo. Senator Hirono had brunch with the students and spoke with them about how she and the rest of the Hawaii congressional delegation will continue working to make sure the Lahaina community has the necessary resources to heal and recover. This year’s Merrie Monarch Festival honors the people of Maui, in the wake of last year’s devastating wildfires.


Senator Hirono, Representative Jill Tokuda, and Mayor Mitch Roth with Lahainaluna students from the Papa Hula O Lahainaluna halau.

Senator Hirono then visited Big Island Coffee Roasters and Creative Arts Hawaii, where she met with businessowners and employees and spoke with them about how they started, grew their businesses, and what they expect for the future. Following these visits, Senator Hirono, a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, visited craft fair vendors at the Merrie Monarch Festival.


Senator Hirono with Lee Mori, general manager and art director at Creative Arts Hawaii.

Following the small business visits, Senator Hirono ended her day viewing the Puainako Street paving project near Waiakea Elementary and Intermediate schools in Hilo with representatives from the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT). The paving project was funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), bipartisan legislation that Senator Hirono voted to pass in 2021. The $4.8 million project will reconstruct the lower portion of the road, improve the connections between the elementary and intermediate school parking areas, and help reduce traffic back-ups during school drop-off and pick-up times.


Senator Hirono with members of the Hawaii Department of Transportation viewing the Puainako Street paving project.