Hawaii MVP: Ikaika Marzo
The 34-year-old from lower Puna has been looking out for his community since his childhood.
Behind the shades and holding back his smile is a face Hawaii Island residents are all too familiar with: Ikaika Marzo.
People around the world are used to seeing him in front of lava.
From day one, until now. The 34-year-old from lower Puna has been looking out for his community since his childhood. He grew up in Kalapana where the home of his family and extended families were taken.
Marzo has seen homes destroyed before. He is used to what happens next, the community coming together to help each other.
Marzo helped create Pu'uhonua o Puna, a donation center where evacuees and others can go for food, water and other living necessities.
Helping is what they do in these parts. It's almost tradition passed down over generations just like Kalapana's music.
Slack Key legend Ledward Kaapana is Marzo's uncle. Some call Ikaika a jack of all trades
"He does a terrific job of stepping forward taking action wanting to help the community in a real tangible way and he organizes everybody," Governor David Ige said.
He also documented the Leilani Estates eruption to give the most up to date information to those in need of it. Gov. Ige learned the first eruption through Marzo's Facebook page.
"That was the first news I heard that the eruption actually started and was happening," Ige said.
As for his day job, Marzo owns his own business called Kalapana Cultural Tours.
Marzo recalls how it all began.
Just shy of turning 20, opportunity came knocking while at his grandfathers house in Kaimu. Five tourists were looking for someone to show them lava.
"We had shorts, slippers and t-shirt and we said 'yeah we'll take you guys in', took them in, didn't expect to get paid, they came out, they gave us money. We said we don't want your guys money, they said 'no no this is like a earth wonder, that this is like a bucket list'," he said.
The next day, 20 more visitors showed up. The numbers kept increasing in the days following. Eventually, Marzo hired more than 80 employees.
Many of those the same family and friends who lost their homes in Kalapana.
Marzo puts most of his company on hold these days, dedicating time now to volunteering.
"It takes a village to take care a village, it takes a community to take care a community," he said.
Marzo says he is in this for the long haul. On some nights, residents in need of something to make them smile again can hear his music too.
Ikaika Marzo, our Hawaii MVP.