Honoring a Hawaiian hero’s vision for peace

HANAPEPE — Distinguished O‘ahu-based sculptor, Kim Duffett, is creating the first-ever sculpture honoring the life and work of the late Sen. Spark M. Matsunaga and his visionary efforts to create a world of peace. The sculpture, just over life-size, will be permanently installed in a children’s garden currently being constructed at the Storybook Theatre in Hanapepe, the hometown of Matsunaga.

The garden will be a “place where children will begin to understand Sparky’s legacy of making peace a living, breathing process for our nation and the world,” said the artist in a recent interview.

The project is funded in part by a grant from the state Legislature, the office of the governor and local efforts by Executive Storybook Theatre director, Mark Jeffers.

Exemplary leadership through public service characterized Matsunaga’s life. He represented the state of Hawai‘i from 1977 to 1990, being reelected to six succeeding congressional terms, a graduate of University of Hawai‘i in Honolulu in 1941 and Harvard Law in 1951. He was wounded twice in battle and became a prominent voice to end the Cold War and secure global peace.

“The whole garden is designed to relate to children on their level, through their direct experience,” explained Duffett, whose collaboration included designing the layout of the entire space. From the whimsical entrance gate that includes a pint-sized door just for children to curvilinear landscaping and walkways and terrariums with small reptiles for youngsters to look at. The garden will be home to an outdoor performance stage where the community will enjoy music, puppet shows and more.

The sculpture of Sparky and a young friend entitled “Walking in the Garden of Peace” encapsulates the forward-thinking philosophy behind Matsunaga’s work as a politician and civil leader. “I imagined this garden to be a manifestation of Sparky’s work and his dream,” she said.

When complete, the entire piece will weigh nearly 750 pounds, stand 8 feet high and be a permanent monument of a true Hawaiian hero whose message is as relevant today as it was nearly a half-century ago.

Duffett points out that in life, Sparky’s appearance “was always polished, a perfectly tied tie, a jacket. He was a consummate professional. Here, I wanted him to finally be home, relaxed and at peace.”

The Storybook Theatre is in need of additional funding to complete Duffett’s extensive process in bronze casting, as well as details within the garden itself.

• For additional information contact Mark Jeffers at Storybook Theatre in Hanapepe at 335-0712 or markjeffers@hawaii.rr.com.


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