By Karl Klooster • Staff Writer • 

Mac grad makes waves in Hawaii

Submitted photoKina Mahi and her husband, Zach McNish, enjoy an evening out in Honolulu.
Submitted photo
Kina Mahi and her husband, Zach McNish, enjoy an evening out in Honolulu.
These brochures show just a sampling of the dozens of authentic Hawaiian products offered through the gift basket program.
These brochures show just a sampling of the dozens of authentic Hawaiian products offered through the gift basket program.

The name Kilikina “Kina” Mahi should be familiar to many McMinnville residents. She is a 1995 graduate of McMinnville High School, where she was a three-sport athlete who served as student body president her senior year.

But some who knew her then are unaware that she now lives in America’s 50th state, Hawaii, where she has launched a company steeped in island culture and her own family heritage.

Kina Mahi is the first person to be profiled in a new series titled, “Where Are They Now?” Our hope is to receive recommendations from you, our readers, about Yamhill Valley natives who have gone on to pursue interesting careers or achieve notable successes elsewhere.

Mahi’s parents, Henry and Nancy, are well known to locals themselves. They have made extensive contributions within the community and across the Valley.

Henry taught at Amity High School for many years, then served 10 years, from 1995 to 2005, as principal before retiring. He continues to keep his hand in, even picking up occasional substitute teaching assignments.

His ancestry stretches back to Hawaii’s age-old tradition as a kingdom. And he’s a 1966 graduate of Honolulu’s private St. Louis School, which was founded in 1846 to serve Oahu’s rapidly growing Catholic population under the rule of King Kamehameha III.

Nancy’s family history is rooted in Sheridan’s pioneer past. A devotee of local history, she volunteers with the Yamhill County Historical Society.

Their daughter, Kilikina, known as Kina, has taken the Hawaiian half of her heritage very much to heart. So much so that she moved to the islands after completing her higher education in California.

She enrolled first at Santa Clara University, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1999 with a degree in economics. She went on to earn an MBA at the University of California at Berkeley in 2004.

While studying for her MBA, she worked in investment portfolio management with a San Francisco firm. Her niche was socially responsible investing.

After graduation, she landed a job in equity research and analysis with the Bank of Hawaii. Then the nonprofit world beckoned.

Mahi was offered the executive administrator post at Ka’ala Farm, a cultural learning center dedicated to nurturing the ancient agricultural traditions of native Hawaiians. The farm was in dire need better management, organization and funding, and she set about providing it.

That very special, albeit challenging experience was just the beginning of her immersion in the world of Hawaiian history and culture, as it turned out.

She next took a post as executive director of College Connections Hawai’i, a college access program serving first-generation college students in general and native Hawaiians in particular. Then she became senior program officer at the Hawai’i Community Foundation, which supports the Island Innovation Fund and Hawai’i Community Stabilization Initiative.

After eight years in the nonprofit realm, Mahi segued into consulting with Storyline. That convinced her she belonged in the private business realm, but she wanted to be her own boss.

Last fall, she and a partner, Wei Fang, founded, an online business engaged in the shipment of traditional Hawaiian foods and keepsakes around the world as gifts. And she has assembled an amazing line of products.

“Makana” means gift in Hawaiian, and the company’s line of gifts includes such irresistible Island palate-pleasers as Hawaiian honey macadamia tart, mango ginger granola, Lilikoi passion fruit, apple bananas, Hawaiian chili pepper, vinegar hot sauce, and, of course, Kona coffee.

Mahi’s business model is built around memberships. Her company offers memberships in increments of one, three, six and 12 months.

For $27 to $30 per month, you can put yourself in line for authentic Hawaiian items from selected artisanal producers, all creatively gift-wrapped.

November featured Mana Magazine, Manoa chocolate, Hawaiian Kine seasonings and a recipe magnet. December, Anahola granola, Jo’s coconut soap and Aloha Letterpress cards in a Lehua print pattern. January, “Historic Hawaii” calendar, Kauai Nut Roasters Kona coffee products and lilikoi lavosh.

The lineup continued with organic sugar cane swizzle sticks, Queen Bee Maui chapstick, Brett Weston’s Big Island photo note cards, Kaminari Primo popcorn, North Shore Goodies’ coconut peanut butter and a map print of Oahu by Ashley Johnston.

Mahi and her husband, Zach, a local attorney, have a 2-year-old daughter named Ke’ala. And they have a second on the way, at this writing.

While at Santa Clara, she played lacrosse on a women’s club team. She’s continued her involvement with the sport by refereeing games in Hawaii.

She is also, I’m told, trying to master the fine art of hula dancing.

And that’s what I found out while OUT and ABOUT — weighing the considerable pleasures of a Hawaiian vacation against the ever-rising costs.

Karl Klooster can be reached by e-mail at or phone at 503-687-1227.


Do you know a Yamhill Valley native who has gone on to a life of considerable achievement or been accorded high honors?

If so, please e-mail Karl Klooster at with your name and phone number, the name of your nominee and the reasons he or she should be featured in the News-Register series, “Where Are They Now?”

Questions? Call Klooster at 503-687-1227.

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