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Hawaiian Discovery – Importing Quality Products Since 1969
During World War II, Texas born Andrew B. White Sr., nicknamed “Pai Pai”, was deployed to Wallis Island, a French territory near Tonga. It was there that Pai Pai realized he was a natural linguist. He became one of the nearly 4,000 U.S. servicemen to become fluent in the Wallisian language. From there he developed an appreciation and kinship with the local people. Island monarch, King Leone Matekitoga, so impressed with the young Marine, formally adopted Pai Pai and dubbed him Prince Mulikihaamea Matekitoga.
In the 60s, during one of his visits to Tonga, Pai Pai decided to start an island arts trading company. By creating opportunities for Polynesian artisans to receive a fair price for their handcrafts, Pai Pai believed this was giving back to those who’d given him so much.
Tonga Trading Co., Ltd. was incorporated in Hawaii in 1971. The business specialized in quality replicas of Pacific art and artifacts, including Tiki statues, tapa cloth, canoe paddles, ceremonial kava bowls, woven mats, and baskets. Product from Tonga Trading found their way into homes, restaurants, hotels, and even cruise ships in Hawaii and beyond.
In 1989, as Pai Pai and his wife Sapeta began slowing down, their “calabash” son, James Kahekili (“Jim”) Foti joined the business to help perpetuate Tonga Trading’s rich and successful legacy. Fresh out of college, Jim had a passion for both the culture of the Pacific Islands and international trade. Soon, Pai Pai and Sapeta entrusted Tonga Trading to Jim, allowing them to become full time grandparents.
Jim developed Hawaiian Discovery as a division of Tonga Trading, focusing on quality wood furniture for both residential and commercial spaces. Throughout the years, Jim stayed true to Tonga Trading’s original ethics and approach to providing quality products and unparalleled customer service.
In 2022, Sea Imports acquired the Hawaiian Discovery brand from the Foti family. Leveraging the strong foundation Hawaiian Discovery has built, Sea Imports will be growing the business to include indoor and outdoor furniture and accessories from Indonesia and Vietnam, reaching markets throughout the U.S. and beyond.