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May 24, 2017

Kamaliʻi honor Queen with Sandbox mural

With tons of wall space in the new Liliʻuonamoku second floor “Sandbox,” the idea of installing a great work of art arose. "How about a mural," Bob asked. And so, early one Saturday in March, our very own kamaliʻi, in collaboration with well-known muralist John “Prime” Hina from 808 Urban and his assistant Laetitia “Kukui” Mahoney, all got together and went to work.

Before starting to paint, Prime and Kukui gathered the kamaliʻi to discuss the Queen’s legacy and her many passions which could be reflected in the mural – her love for her people, the ʻāina, her passion for composing music, among others.  


The kamaliʻi began by imprinting their hands on the wall in numerous vibrant colors, which signified putting their work – their mana – into the mural. The handprints also represent the hands of all the youth taken care of by the Queen, and an expression of their gratitude for what she has done for them, their ʻohana, and their communities. These handprints serve as the base of the mural. 

The water used to blend and mix the paints was fetched from Waikahalulu Falls in the Queen’s Botanical Gardens, and Kunawai Pond which once fed Nuʻuanu and Liliha ahupuaʻa and its loʻi kalo.

There are many symbols honoring Queen Liliʻuokalani in the mural:

  • On both corners of the wall, we see pō, the darkness and constellations symbolic of the Kumulipo, our creation story that the Queen translated while imprisoned at ʻIolani Palace.
  • The five triangles represent the interrelatedness of heaven and earth. There are rivers running mauka to makai, painted in the shape of sashes that adorned our Queen.
  • The clouds represent the heavens. Hidden in the clouds are musical notes and lyrics from mele the Queen composed, like Aloha ʻOe, Ke Aloha ʻĀina, and Ahe Lau Makani. These mele are sung and heard throughout the islands today.
  • In the center of the mural are the Queen’s favorite pua liliʻu (crown flowers) and much loved pulelehua (monarch butterflies) gathering around the blossoms. The flowers are symbolic of her legacy: her love for and care of Hawaiian children and all her people. 

Today the Queen’s legacy lives on through the hands of many.


Mahalo nui to Prime and Kukui of 808Urban, as well as our talented kamaliʻi for donating their Saturday and creating such a beautiful piece of art that we can appreciate and share with visitors for generations to come. Mahalo also to Vernon Viernes who gathered the all-important wai, and to both Vernon and Bert Oka for bringing the ʻōpio and spending the day with us.

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