Makani Christensen (whose full name is Paul Edward Kamakani Kehaukalehua o Maui) was born in January of 1980 on Maui. Raised for many years by a single mother of three, Makani understands many of the hardships Hawaii families struggle through. His mother, Belinda Long (a granddaughter to the Wedemeyer and Kaono families) and two younger sisters moved to Hilo, Big Island when he was five years old. Makani's mother later remarried and Makani enjoys a close relationship with his stepfather, Kenneth Chang Jr and the Chang family.
Makani's childhood in Panaewa on the Big Island instilled his love of fishing, surfing, cooking and team sports. Born into a large part-Hawaiian family, he is grateful for all they taught him of the land, sea and spirituality. His notable family memories include digging the imu ovens, learning lua (the Hawaiian form of martial arts) and hearing stories of their genealogy. His summers were spent raising pigs and chickens on his Uncle's farm.
Though faced with many struggles in his youth, Makani strived for better opportunities. He attended public schools in Hilo, then transferred from Waiakea High School to board at Kamehameha Secondary School at the Kapalama Campus in Oahu. There he completed grades 10th -12th and excelled in swimming, becoming Swim Team Captain and WaterPolo Captain.
Today, Makani lives in Manoa, on the island of Oahu, with his family. His wife, Sarah Naomi Cooper, born to a school teacher, Karen (Komo) Cooper, and Martin Cooper, an architect, goes by her middle name, Naomi.
Granddaughter of Judge Richard Komo and school teacher, Yuki Komo (Kamitaki), she was raised in upcountry, Maui, before moving to Oahu to attend Hawaii Pacific University, where she graduated with a BSBA in Corporate Communication. She has been a professional model and actress for over 16 years.
Naomi and Makani met in 2011 through the triathlon community, when Makani was training for an Ironman Competition. They are very involved in each other's lives, sharing interests in social gatherings, cooking, the arts, ocean leisure, music and creative writing. Their children are their greatest joy - a daughter age 3, and a son, one year old.