Hawaii TV Pioneer Emmeline Tomimbang Burns Remembered After Death

By Kevin Eck 

A celebration of the life of Hawaiian broadcast pioneer Emmeline Tomimbang Burns was held over the weekend.

Tomimbang Burns died in February during emergency open-heart surgery at Queen’s Medical Center. She was 73.

She was known for working in journalism when women were still greatly outnumbered by men and for her work with the Filipino community.


She started her TV career at KITV in Honolulu before moving to KHON. In 1995, she started her own video and production company called Emme Tomimbang Multi-Media Enterprises Inc., aka EMME Inc.

“I join people across Hawai‘i in mourning the loss of my friend and beloved local broadcaster, Emme Tomimbang Burns. Emme was a fixture of Hawai‘i TV and radio for decades and devoted her later years to expanding opportunities in medicine and journalism for students, particularly in the Filipino and Native Hawaiian communities,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i). “She will be dearly missed – but her impact across the state will live on. My condolences and aloha go to Emme’s ‘ohana.”

“From her early days on the anchor desk for TV news to later producing television specials, Emme told stories from her heart,” said Hawai’i Governor Josh Green. “She tackled some tough subjects as a broadcast journalist, but also shared stories of compelling island people in her ‘Emme’s Island Moments’ specials and that is how most people knew her. Privately, as the wife of former Intermediate Court of Appeals Chief Judge, the late James Burns, she became an important part of the state Judiciary ʻohana. The Office of the Governor joins Hawaiʻi in mourning the passing of a dear, caring storyteller and friend.”