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Committee accepts statue donation, favors new location

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Park patrons look at the statue, “Ho‘omalule ‘Upena Kiloi” — or “Metamorphosis of a Net Fisherman,” in Liliuokalani Park and Gardens.

After previously rejecting it in March, a Hawaii County Council committee on Tuesday accepted the donation of a statue at Liliuokalani Gardens with the stipulation that it be moved.

“Ho‘omalule ‘Upena Kiloi” — meaning “Metamorphosis of a Net Fisherman” — is a bronze statue that was installed in the park in February. The installation quickly drew criticism from park users.

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Although the statue was formally donated to the county in March, a County Council committee rejected the donation based on concerns about how the location was chosen and because it was installed before being formerly accepted by the county.

The abstract statue, some said, clashed with the traditional Japanese aesthetics of the gardens, and council members were critical of the Department of Parks and Recreation’s apparent lack of consultation with members of the public regarding the statue’s placement.

However, council members were much more amicable toward Parks Director Maurice Messina Tuesday, when he presented a new location for the statue.

“We’ve talked with different members of the public about this new location, and we’ve heard no negative comments,” Messina said.

Messina proposed that the statue be moved a short distance away to a part of the park referred to as the “Isles,” which is immediately to the north of Hilo Bay Cafe and a park parking lot. Henry Bianchini, the Hilo artist who created the statue, will consult with work crews to ensure the statue’s safety.

Bianchini was present during Tuesday’s committee meeting, where he called the piece a reflection of his love for Hilo. He also reassured council members that some of his other artworks — which have been installed on each of the main Hawaiian Islands — have received more pushback than this latest one.

Puna Councilman Matt Kaneali‘i-Kleinfelder thanked Bianchini for his patience and agreed that the new location at the Isles is more appropriate for the piece.

“I’m glad we were able to find a place that everyone can agree on,” said Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz.

There was no testimony on the subject at Tuesday’s meeting. However, a statement from the Friends of Liliuokalani Gardens last week in a statement disagreed with placing the statue anywhere within the park, because it would limit the usability of the park’s open space. That statement was not discussed at Tuesday’s meeting.

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The committee voted unanimously to forward the matter to the full council in two weeks.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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