College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources announces 2016 industry and alumnus awardees

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Cheryl Ernst, (808) 956-2405
Events & Public Info Officer, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resource
Posted: Mar 9, 2016

Ernest Tottori
Ernest Tottori
Williiam Aila Jr.
Williiam Aila Jr.

Ernest Tottori, chairman of HPC Foods and its iconic Taro Brand, has been selected to receive the 2016 Ka Lei Hano Award from UH Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR). He will be honored along with William Aila Jr., who was named the 2016 Outstanding Alumnus for environmental and cultural leadership at two state agencies, during CTAHR’s 28th Annual Awards Banquet on May 6. 

“Both men are invaluable resources to the college and to Hawai‘i,” said Maria Gallo, CTAHR dean and director for research and Cooperative Extension. “Ernest brings the voice of experience, both within the local food industry and as a member of the CTAHR Advisory Council. He demonstrates how to pair hard work with entrepreneurship to carry a family business successfully into the fourth generation.  Bill Aila is the voice of advocacy, long active in efforts to preserve Hawai‘i’s natural and cultural resources through the Department of Land and Natural Resources and Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.”

The banquet will also recognize U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka for the work of the Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests and CTAHR’s Fashion Design and Merchandising program for the 50th anniversary of its Senior Fashion Show.  Faculty, staff and student awardees will be honored, as well as CTAHR scholarship recipients and the donors who made the scholarships possible.

The event will be held Friday, May 6, at the Ala Moana Hotel Hibiscus Ballroom beginning at 5:30 p.m. The RSVP deadline is Friday, April 29. Information is available at

About Ernest Tottori: The grandson of immigrant dairyman/farmer and Waipahu poi miller Kakuichi Tottori, Ernest Tottori heads the state’s largest poi and sprout producer. Together with wife Miriam and their children, he oversees 180 employees, three major facilities on O‘ahu and a fleet of refrigerated delivery trucks. HPC Foods has an in-house quality assurance and food product testing laboratory and earned Global Food Safety Initiative certification in 2013. It has been an innovator, expanding the market to mainland expatriates with frozen poi and value-added products, often in partnership with fellow producers such as Aloha Tofu and Chun Wah Kam Noodle Factory.

About William J. Aila Jr.: Deputy chair of the State’s Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, William Aila graduated from Wai‘anae High and earned a UH bachelor’s degree in general agriculture from CTAHR in 1980. He served as Wai‘anae harbormaster in the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation for 24 years before his appointment to head the department and chair the Board of Land and Natural Resources. A Hawaiian cultural practitioner as well as a steadfast environmentalist, he has served on numerous boards, panels and task forces, and helped found the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

About CTAHR: The founding college of the University of Hawai‘i, the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources is integral to UH Mānoa’s Carnegie designation as a very-high activity Research University and works extensively with the citizens of Hawai‘i in fulfilling the university’s federally mandated Land Grant mission of instruction, scientific research and extension outreach to address state needs.  

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