Completing the Renovation of Our Royal Patrons’ Chapel

In 2002 the Royal Patrons Chapel  was created in the Cathedral. Popularly known as the Wahi Kapu (sacred space), it is dedicated to the memory of King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma and is a place in which one can reflect on their “spiritual generosity and magnanimous accomplishments.”

The chapel in 2015

By 2015, the chapel included an icon surrounded by kāhili lima paʻa (small kāhili that can be hand-held.)  The space was set up for contemplation with movie theater stanchions that set off its boundaries.  The overall effect was rather dowdy.

On April 28, 2015, the Hawaiian Committee, now known as Nohona Hawai‘i, led by Leimalama Lee Loy and John Condrey, requested Chapter to allow them to renovate the Wahi Kapu.  The Renovation Committee is currently made up of:

  • Reverend Dr. Haʻaheo Guanson, Chair
  • John Condrey, Artistic Director
  • Ann Hansen, Coordinator
Dalani Tanahy showed possible designs to the committee.

On October 4, 2015, kapa artist Dalani Tanahy showed possible designs for the floor of the chapel to the Hawaiian Committee, who chose a contemporary design with a strong diagonal pattern. Elements of wana (sea urchins) with a female motif are mixed with sharks teeth, which are a male motif, for a balanced design.

Stripping the old flooring preparatory to placing the design.

On November 8, 2016, David Morowit of Pacific Decorative Concrete striped off the top protective layer of the green concrete floor of the Wahi Kapu.  He proceeded to stencil the kapa pattern onto the whole area of the Royal Patron’s Chapel.  Then he sealed it with the protective semi-glossy layer.  Now the kapa design clearly delineates boundaries and area of the chapel.

Fiber artist Marques Hanalei Marzan and his proposed wall hanging for the Wahi Kapu.

Going one step further to enhance Our Royal Patrons’ Chapel, the Renovation Committee, with the approval of Nohona Hawaiʻi, commissioned Marquez Marzan to create a wall hanging that will go on the chapel wall above and behind the icon. Marquez is a Cultural Advisor for the Bishop Museum. As Honolulu Magazine described him, “Fiber artist Marques Hanalei Marzan brings a contemporary eye to this ancient craft, creating works that bridge old and new while weaving a continuum of culture” (p. 138, December 2018 issue.).  Our contemporary weaving is completed and ready for hanging.

Removing the icon for refurbishment

On Friday, January 4th, the icon was taken off the chapel wall and transported to Pacific Gallery and Frames to be “refreshed”. On Saturday, January 5th, a small committee including Reverend Haʻaheo Guanson, Ed Lapsley and Ann Hansen met with Elaine Kimizuka, one of the co-founders of Pacific Gallery and Frames, on how best to proceed.  We acknowledge the value of the beautiful koa frame with the finely crafted joints.  Koa is so difficult to obtain and so expensive, we do not wish to change the size or proportion of the frame.  It is large and dignified in its appearance.  The soft green background surrounding the actual icon is not matting, but rather linen. The group chose a soft blue-green linen, which Elaine will investigate to determine if it is available. Elaine will guide Chromaco, a company in Iwilei which does art level printing, to determine the printing style and the most appropriate type of paper for the collect (prayer) that goes in the lower portion of the artwork.

The committee discussed our timeline, deciding that it is better not to name an artificial deadline. Finishing this renovation needs to take as much time as it needs to produce the best result, a work of art that will last for decades. When it is complete, it will be blessed at whichever Feast Day is the coming up next.

Ann Dugdale Hansen, Coordinator,
Wahi Kapu Renovation Committee
(photos by Ann Hansen)