Awards and Testimonial

REALTOR® of the Year 2022

ROTY — I still say that acronym sounds like something that might require extra strength antiseptic but being named REALTOR® of the Year is quite an honor. As the 2009 co-selectee, I can attest to how rewarding it is to be recognized. With over 600 members, the Hawaii Island REALTORS® (HIR) is comprised of members from all over Hawaii Island. To be selected REALTOR® of the Year (ROTY), 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 selection is made by a committee of former winners. Selectees are seasoned agents who dedicate themselves to serving the public while demonstrating the highest ethical standards. They devote countless hours 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 benchmark.

realtor of the year award winner

I’m very proud to announce the 2022 recipient because she’s not only my daughter but the third member of Team Nakanishi to be so recognized. Her selection was unanimous. Those who have met her will completely agree that she perfectly fits the selection criteria. Not only does she devote a lot of time to our community and our professional organization, but as the Master of Ceremonies mentioned, she has the unique ability to make everyone feel good about themselves. Her Dad was a Hilo boy of Hawaiian decent, but “Nui” was actually born in Germany. When she was about 18 months old, I got worried her language development was delayed. It was Mealoha, who attended German school, that explained Nui was speaking perfect German “baby talk.”

Even though she wasn’t born here, make no mistake, she’s an Island girl thru and thru. I recall sitting on the banks of Honoli’i barely able to see her in the water because it was so dark. She also swam competitively for years. She loves the water. I really never thought she’d leave home but she showed me. After graduating from Hilo High, she enrolled at my alma mater, University of Florida for both her bachelors and her MBA. She began her real estate career in Miami and ended up staying in Florida for 18 years before returning home.

The MC also described her as “selfless, tenacious, kind, energetic and intelligent.” While she was undergoing her breast cancer treatment (she was first of 3 in my family), I watched her lie in bed raising money and buying shoes for students in Pahoa and a school she serviced as a speech therapist in Florida. In the end, she purchased and delivered 210 pairs of shoes to needy students. There were so many that her sister had to help her transport them. I could go on and on for sure but suffice to say, we are all very proud of our little Hilo girl! I hope you’ll get to meet our beautiful Nui one day. You’ll surely leave with a smile on your face and a song in your heart. I always wonder how I came to be so lucky to have such amazing children. Congratulations, Kealohanui “Nui” Browning on having your name add to the elite group of former awardees below.

2022 Kealohanui Browning
2021 Tracy Lewis
2020 C Kupono Pa
2019 Pat Halpern
2018 Cathy Fedak
2017 Wailana Herbst
2016 Howard Meguro
2015 Julie Hugo
2014 CJ Kimberly
2013 Peggy Yuan
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 Griffi n
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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Beth Thoma Robinson, R(B)

January 24, 2023

Congratulations to Nui and Team Nakanishi! What illustrious company to be joining! Your spirit of service and total professionalism are legendary.

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