A glance through the $137,000 in gifts Hawaii lawmakers received over the past year shows a lot of local items — malasadas, kadomatsu plants and lei haku, to name a few.

But no surprise, the gifts were predominantly food items. One lawmaker called them “gifts of aloha.” They show what a big role food plays in Hawaii politics.

And who hasn’t brought a box of manapua or Big Island shortbread cookies to the office? No wonder legislators get them as gifts, too.

Here’s a sampling of some of the food gifts legislators accepted. (While not required, many lawmakers listed gifts valued at below the $200 threshold for disclosure.)

Candies, Cookies

  • Li hing mui seeds, valued at between $1 and $5, from Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to several lawmakers
  • Fudge, valued at $8, to Rep. George Fontaine from the Maui Chamber of Commerce
  • Hawaiian Host chocolates, valued at $5, to Sen. Pohai Ryan from Meadow Gold
  • Big Island Candies brand cookies, valued at $10, to Rep. Mele Carroll from Puna Geothermal
  • Yoku Moku cookies, valued at $40, to Rep. Derek Kawakami from the Hawaii Insurers Council


  • Cupcakes, valued at $5, to Rep. Roy Takumi from Hawaii Women Lawyers
  • Apple strudel bites, valued at $8, to Rep. Scott Saiki from Equality Hawaii Foundation
  • Poi malasadas, valued at $10, to Rep. Gilbert Keith-Agaran from Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald
  • Baked butter mochi, valued at $10, to Keith-Agaran from City Council member Nestor Garcia
  • Manju, valued at $10, to Sen. Kalani English from Maui Community College
  • Malasadas, valued at $10, to Rep. Ty Cullen from the Department of Public Safety’s Sheriff Division
  • Cream puffs, valued at $12, to House Speaker Calvin Say from Eddie Hayashi

Dim Sum, Sushi

  • Sushi, valued at $12, to Rep. Say from Wendall Murakawa
  • Dim sum, valued at $20, to former Rep. Hermina Morita from the Kauai Island Utility Coop
  • Manapua and pork hash, valued at $20, to Sen. Brickwood Galuteria from Kamehameha Schools
  • Manapua and dim sum, valued at $50, to Rep. Denny Coffman from BioEnergy Hawaii.
  • Maki and cone sushi, valued at $11, to Keith-Agaran from the Maui Economic Opportunity


  • Hurricane popcorn, valued at $7, to Rep. Della Au Belatti from the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii
  • Gift basket, valued at $20, to Rep. George Fontaine from First Assembly of God
  • Goft basket, valued at $20 to Rep. Marilyn Lee from the Hawaii Government Employees Association
  • Gift basket, valued at $25 to English from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs
  • Island Princess snacks, valued at $28, to Rep. Cynthia Thielen from OHA
  • Fruit baskets, valued at $50, to Reps. Mele Carroll and Cynthia Evans from Bikers United
  • Gift basket, valued at $50, to Galuteria from Cox Radio Hawaii


  • Pa’i ai, valued at $5, from Legalize Pa’i ai Ohana to Reps. Au Bellati and Takumi
  • Molokai Bread and coffee, valued at $6, to Rep. Say from the Molokai Community Health Center
  • Kona coffee, valued at $30, to Coffman from the Hawaii State Teachers Association-Big Island
  • Gift card to Ruth’s Chris steakhouse, valued at $25, to Cullen from the the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii

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