kaneohe court sculpture
A hula performance and prayer followed the unveiling of the Mamalahoe sculpture. Bottom left: The new sculpture will be noticed by all
who approach Abner Paki Hale. Right: Chief Justice Moon congratulates Viliami Toluta`u.

On December 9, the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts held a ceremony for the dedication and unveiling of a bronze sculpture by artist Viliami Toluta`u at Abner Paki Hale in Kane`ohe. The 9-foot sculpture, which depicts the two fishermen and a child, is named Mamalahoe, the Law of the Splintered Paddle.

According to legend, Kamehameha the Great was engaged in a battle in Puna when he attacked two innocent fishermen. In defense, one of the fisherman struck Kamehameha down with his paddle. The men were later captured and brought before the king. Instead of punishing the men, Kamehameha ordered their release and issued the Law of the Splintered Paddle: that no one, even a king, has the right to attack the innocent.

“It is fitting that the bronze sculpture we dedicate today was inspired by the Law of the Splintered Paddle, decreed by King Kamehameha the First,” said Chief Justice Ronald Moon at the dedication ceremony. “The Law of the Splintered Paddle survives to this day in Article 9, Section 10 of our State Constitution and states in relevant part:  ‘The law of the splintered paddle . . . shall be a unique living symbol of the State’s concern for public safety.  The State shall have the power to provide for the safety of the people from crimes against persons and property.’”

The Chief Justice thanked Viliami Toluta`u, the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, and the Kane`ohe Courthouse Art Advisory Committee, led by current Chair Rochelle Hasuko and former Chair Jean Yamane, for their hard work and commitment to the project.

An Associate Professor of Ceramics and Sculpture in the Fine Arts Division at Brigham Young University – Hawai`i, Mr. Toluta‘u has designed several public artworks, including sculptures at the Fua`amotu International Airport in Tonga and Hickam Elementary School.

 “When we look at the sculpture, may it remind us of the humility and compassion of Kamehameha,” said Toluta‘u, who explained that the two fishermen in the sculpture symbolize the balance of the prosecution and defense in the judicial system.

 The 28,000 square-foot Aber Paki Hale was opened to the public in March 2003. The bi-level courthouse features two courtrooms and spacious areas for both public and staff. “With the support of the Legislature and all those who labored to build this facility, the Judiciary has been able to better serve the people who live in, and between, Kahuku and Waimanalo over the past five years,” said Chief Justice Moon.

Funding for the Mamalahoe sculpture was made possible by the State of Hawaii’s Art in State Buildings Law, which designates one percent of the construction costs of new buildings for the acquisition of works of art, either by commission or purchase.

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