Renovating the Wahi Kapu, 2015-2019

The chapel in 2015

In 1999, the late Fr. Malcolm Chun commissioned an icon of our royal patrons, King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma, with the artist Robert Lenz. The finished icon was dedicated in November, 1999. The original remained in the possession of Fr. Chun, while a high-quality copy became the centerpiece of the Wahi Kapu, or royal chapel, though the chapel remained a bit dowdy and unfinished.

Dalani Tanahy, John Condrey, and Kilani Ventura discuss the floor design

In April of 2015, Bishop Fitzpatrick and Chapter approved a plan to renovate the Wahi Kapu. Committee Members included Leimalama Lee Loy, John Condrey, and Ann Hansen. Dr. Haʻaheo Guanson became Chair of the Wahi Kapu Renovation Committee in 2016. The committee engaged Dalani Tanahy, a traditional cultural practitioner of kapa making, to create a design for the floor. Her design combines wana (sea urchin), a female motif, juxtaposed with a shark tooth (male) motif for the floor of the Wahi Kapu chapel. On election night 2016, David Morowit, Pacific Decorative Concrete, stripped the top layers off the floor of the chapel. Later in the night, he printed the kapa stencil onto the floor. The Wahi Kapu glowed with beauty (see top photo)!

Marques Marzan with his art work.

The last phase of the renovation is to have a wall hanging designed to hang behind the icon. In 2018, Nohona Hawaiʻi commissioned Hawaiian cultural practitioner, Marques Marzan, to create a contemporary artwork of aluminum wire with sisal. Our icon had, over the years, collected some dirt, an it was decided to have it professionally cleaned. Workers from Warehouse, Distribution and Installation took down our icon, transporting it to Pacific Gallery and Frames on January 4, 2019.

While this phase of the project was under way, Fr. Chun unexpectedly passed away. Bishop Fitzpatrick asked Fr. Chun’s brother Nathan if he would be willing to donate the icon to the Diocese, and he graciously did so.

The icon without the frame is considerably smaller (28.5” x 33.5”) than the one that had been on the chapel wall. Further, as Sean Kimizuka of Pacific Gallery and Frames pointed out, there was some mildew on the picture and chips in the masonite. Art Preservationist, Larry Pace was hired, and he restored the icon. Shuzo Uemoto, a Honolulu Museum of Art Photographer, documented the unframed icon in case Nohona Hawaiʻi wishes to create postcards or other memorabilia.  Additionally, in case of natural or manmade disaster, the icon could be reproduced. Fortunately, we have the koa from the large replica icon that we can use to frame the original icon, as koa is hard to obtain and exceptionally expensive.

The icon is now at Pacific Gallery and Frames being re-framed.  When the original icon is framed and Marquez Marzan’s wall hanging is resized, both works of art will be hung and blessed at the Feast of Our Holy Sovereigns on Sunday, November 24, 2019 at the 8:00 service, and our chapel will be complete.

By Ann Dugdale Hansen, Coordinator: Wahi Kapu Renovation Committee