Awards and Testimonial

REALTOR® of the Year 2020

Pictured above: View from 31-230 Hawaii Belt Road,  Ninole.

Even though it sounds like something that might require extra strength antiseptic, being named REALTOR® of The Year (ROTY) is quite an honor. As the 2009 co-awardee, I can attest to how rewarding it is to be recognized. With about 650 members, the Hawaii Island REALTORS® (HIR) is comprised of members from all over Hawaii Island.

The nominees are…

To be selected REALTOR® of The Year, each nominee’s contribution to our industry is scrutinized against others using a broad range of selection criteria. Nominees are recommended by their peers, while the selection is made by a committee of former winners. Selectees are seasoned agents who dedicate themselves to serving the public, demonstrating the highest ethical standards. They devote countless hours to improving our professional organization at all levels. Consideration is also given for community involvement and promotion of the REALTOR® image.

The National Association of REALTORS® requires that their members subscribe to a strict code of ethics. Selection as REALTOR® of The Year underscores a personal and professional commitment above and beyond this already strict professional standard.

The 2020 recipient was selected from a wide field of anonymously nominated agents. The field of nominees was amazing. The dedication, qualifications, and contributions of the nominees are a testament to our professional organization.

The winner is…

In the end, Kapono Pa of Savio Realty Hilo, who for years has tirelessly served our organization, was selected for not only his commitment to our professional organization but for his contributions to our island community. Of note, is Kapono’s tireless efforts in support of our REALTOR® Political Action Committee. This important committee closely monitors legal issues of note to homeowners locally and nationally.

Kapono loves being a REALTOR® and sets high standards in all he does. His quick wit has made him our “go-to” guy when it comes to needing a Master of Ceremony. He definitely keeps us all entertained and engaged. Even Zoom can’t keep him down! Please congratulate Kapono when you see him. His warmth, dedication, and enthusiasm are so obvious that you’ll instantly understand his addition to the elite group of former recipients below:

  • 2019 Pat Halpern
  • 2018 Cathy Fedak
  • 2017 Wailani Herbst
  • 2016 Howard Meguro
  • 2015 Julie Hugo
  • 2014 CJ Kimberly
  • 2013 Peggy Yuen
  • 2012 Rochelle Augustin Beck
  • 2011 Julie Ching
  • 2010 Debi Au
  • 2009 Mealoha Kraus and Denise Nakanishi
  • 2008 Gary Rothfus
  • 2007 Heather Hedenschau
  • 2006 Arabel Camblor
  • 2005 Wade Park and Frank Goodale
  • 2004 Gary Davis
  • 2003 Christine Makaweo
  • 2002 Gae Callaway
  • 2001 Mary Begier
  • 2000 Adele Eggel
  • 1999 Chris Brilhante
  • 1998 Helene Tajiri and Donna Herbst
  • 1997 Edith Crabb
  • 1996 Nancy Cabral
  • 1995 John Tolmie
  • 1994 Robert G. Williams
  • 1993 Michael Shewmaker
  • 1992 Glenetta Bennett
  • 1991 Daniel Wilson
  • 1990 Doris Smith
  • 1989 Yukio Takeya
  • 1988 Pat Ito
  • 1986 Paul Ingledew
  • 1985 Patricia Scullary and Delene Osorio
  • 1984 Bill Pendered Jr.
  • 1983 Jerry Hirata
  • 1982 Alvin Inoue
  • 1981 Vern Yamanaka
  • 1980 Alma Prigmore
  • 1979 Elroy Osorio
  • 1978 Doris Smith
  • 1977 Beverly Paplimu
  • 1976 Peter Shayne
  • 1975 Helene Hale
  • 1974 Kenneth Griffin
  • 1973 Edward Araujo
  • 1972 Masashi Yamanaka
  • 1971 Leina’ala Devine
About the Author

Denise Nakanishi

Denise Nakanishi is a REALTOR Broker with Hawai'i Life. Denise Nakanishi is one of Hilo's most acclaimed real estate agents. She reached the rank of Major in the US Army and is now known by many as "Major Mom." The nickname fits–not only does Denise bring the discipline and mission-oriented attitude you'd expect, she's also caring and compassionate, always looking out for her clients like they're her own family. Having made the Big Island her home since 1987, Denise combines her extensive knowledge of the area with a sharp focus on customer service and the results speak for themselves. She's the recent recipient of the Best East Hawai`i, Best of Zillow, Chairman's Circle Award, President's Circle, Top Producing Agent since 2001, and Realtor of the Year awards. Denise stays ahead of the curve because she's passionate about education–she served as Education Chair for Hawaii Island REALTORS® for many years. She's one of Big Island's best real estate resources, known for her weekly article in the Hawaii Tribune Herald. Denise leads Team Nakanishi for Hawai`i Life, who is committed to their family, work, and community. In her little time away from work, Denise is a committed runner and Grandy. She also devotes many hours to various Veterans' Organizations, the East Hawaii Cultural Center, and the Hawaii Island REALTORS®. You can email me at or via phone at (808) 936-5100.

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