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Queen Liliuokalani-Inspired Artwork By Honolulu Artist Kaiwi Nui Yoon To Become Centerpiece Of Multi-Million Dollar Renovation At Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa

August 15, 2015 Destination Hawaii No Comments Print Print Email Email

It’s a Native Hawaiian work of art regal enough and rich with enough Hawaiian meaning and storytelling to honor Hawaii’s last reigning monarch.


A massive 60-by-20-foot carved wood panel artwork honoring Queen Liliuokalani, who reigned over the Kingdom of Hawaii from 1891 to 1893, is the centerpiece of an $18 million beautification project currently underway at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.

Created by Honolulu artist Kaiwi Nui Yoon, the artwork’s design motif is intended to reflect the queen’s love for the people of her kingdom and the values she wished to instill in them. Yoon’s piece is the focal point of a larger resort transformation project launched in March, with work continuing in phases through a scheduled fall 2015 completion. The multi-million dollar beautification project spans the resort’s porte cochere, main lobby, front desk registration area, meeting spaces and popular Kuhio Beach Grill restaurant.

Yoon, who is of Hawaiian ancestry, is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools and earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from theUniversity of Hawaii at Manoa. His areas of study and expertise are Hawaiian architecture, planning and design.

What word came to mind for the design concept?
The Hawaiian word, onipaa, means steadfast. Queen Liliuokalani’s words and actions have resonated over time, leaving Hawaii and its people with a sense of place, a calling to live righteous, and a chance for Native Hawaiians to thrive. The Kumulipo, or Hawaiian creation chant, serves as an account of evolution throughout time and a reminder of the Native Hawaiian people’s connection to the land, environment and heavens.

Why was it important to show such an evolution in your artwork?
As a record of evolution, the Kumulipo reveals the progression of life over time as having a past, a present and a future. The queen understood the importance of looking into the past to help deal with the present and create a prosperous future.

What is the concept of the storyboard?
The front, wood panel, titled Ka Maka Hinu (“The Bright Face”), is designed to interpret and encapsulate Hawaiian values and have an overarching concept of hope. Ka Maka Hinu is also designed to remind us of where we are in this unique place, educate and communicate our values, and leave us with a feeling of hope for a bright future.

The many layers of storytelling in the design of Ka Maka Hinu will encourage people to go on a Hawaiian cultural journey.Can you take us through the steps of the artist renderings?
First, there’s ahupuaa, which is the overall Native Hawaiian land management system extending from the mountain to the ocean. Second, there is Hawaiki. Early Maori settlers came to Hawaii from Hawaiki — their mythical homeland — traversing thousands of miles of ocean without the use of navigational instruments. The kanaka maoli (Native Hawaiians) were the first to discover Hawaii.

There are dramatic diagonal strands as part of the artwork. Why is it referred to as the embrace?
These strands are designed to be an interpretation of embracing strands, or arms, wrapping around a central stand. The Kumulipo strand is considered the past, the kanaka strand is our present, and the central stand (shown with the manu, or bird) represents the future.

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