Gift for a king

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kauai Museum Director Chucky Boy Chock joins the audience in watching the Michael Drake ohana unveil the Ha‘akulou Thursday afternoon in the Kauai Museum main gallery.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Anolani Higashi of Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala performs a tribute hula to Kaumuali‘i against the backdrop of the Ha‘akulou that was unveiled Thursday at the Kauai Museum.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Lopaka Bukoski leads the procession of dignitaries that include the Royal Order of Kamehamea, Na Wahine Hui O Kamehameha, ‘Ahahui Ka‘ahumanu, Hale O Na Ali‘i O Hawaii, Daughters of Hawaii, and other VIPs Thursday during the unveiling of the Ha‘akulou at the Kauai Museum.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The audience, comprised heavily of the Hawaiian benevolent clubs, including The Royal Order of Kamehameha, Na Wahine Hui O Kamehameha, ‘Ahahui Ka‘ahumanu, Hale O Na Ali‘i O Hawaii, and Daughters of Hawaii, admire the Ha‘akulou (King Kaumuali‘i’s helmet and cloak), which was unveiled Thursday at the Kauai Museum in Lihue.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Guests to the unveiling of the Ha‘akulou (King Kaumuali‘i’s cloak) flow past the display of the feather helmet and cloak Thursday at the Kauai Museum.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Rick Makanaaloha San Nicolas, feather-maker, answers questions about the Ha‘akulou (King Kaumuali‘i’s cloak, behind him), while guests admire the helmet and cloak on display following the unveiling at the Kauai Museum Thursday.

LIHUE — When the curtains were pulled away Thursday to reveal the royal cloak honoring King Kaumuali‘i, it was the first time Maryanne Kusaka had seen it.

She, like the other 75 people gathered in the Ali‘i Gallery at the Kauai Museum, was in awe of its majesty and beauty.

“It’s hard to find words,” said the president of the Kauai Museum board of directors. “It’s just a feeling of pride. We’ve been emphasizing Kaumuali‘i and his history at the museum, and now to have his cloak is like the completion of our story.”

The unveiling of “Ha‘akulou” was an hourlong ceremony that included pule, oli and hula. The crowd included Hawaiian benevolent clubs dressed in full regalia, including The Royal Order of Kamehameha, Na Wahine Hui O Kamehameha, ‘Ahahui Ka‘ahumanu, Hale O Na Ali‘i O Hawaii, and Daughters of Hawaii.

It was led by museum Director Chucky Boy Chock.

The ‘ahu‘ula (cloak) and the mahiole (Hawaiian feathered helmet) were made by Rick Makanaaloha San Nicolas of Hawaiian Feathers. It resembles those worn by Kaumuali‘i during special ceremonies — and in battle — when he reigned on Kauai and Ni‘ihau.

“People didn’t realize they used it as a shield,” Chock said. “A lot of times it really protected them.”

The work was commissioned by the board of directors last year, and San Nicolas recently completed the project that includes about 250,000 pheasant feathers and took nearly 3,000 hours to complete.

It was be on display from now on at the Kauai Museum, with paintings of the king wearing a cloak by Evelyn Ritter all around it.

“It’s the crown jewel of the Pacific, as far as we’re concerned, for Kauai,” Chock said. “It’s going to be our Mona Lisa.”

Chock said Kaumuali‘i was a great leader, compassionate, who cared deeply for his people.

“He was the guy,” Chock said. “There was not one bad thing said about him. He was unbelievable.”

The cloak and helmet are a tribute.

“This is a gift,” he added. “We created this as a gift to honor him.”

San Nicolas, raised in Hawaii but who today lives in California, has completed five cloaks and has been commissioned to do several more. He’s been doing feather work about 20 years.

The feathers for the cloak are tied together to fine mesh netting. It’s a slow, detailed process.

“I love what I do,” he said. “I get to do this every day.”

He arrived on Kauai this week to set up the cloak and helmet. Before he lets it go on its final journey, he says a pule over it.

“When it’s unveiled it has a whole new look and whole new feeling. They’re just like children to me, I spend so much time with them,” he said. “It’s hard to let them go.”

Chris O’Connor made the steel frame at his Kapahi home that holds the cloak. He didn’t want the frame to upstage the cloak, but to enhance it.

It’s made to the height of a man just over 6 feet tall.

“I think the way it’s displayed is important,” he said. “This pose is as if he is in the process of pulling it around him. It’s something that is alive and dynamic.”

Kusaka called the display “phenomenal for Kauai.”

She said it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the museum to commission San Nicolas, and it didn’t miss that chance.

“We’re very, very proud Chucky brought it to us,” she said. “We were able to trust and get donors and believe in what we were doing.”

The down payment alone on the project was $20,000, so it took a lot of fundraising.

“It wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for our donors,” Chock said.

Chock had high praise for the museum’s staff, docents, volunteers and board members.

“We are here for the good of the museum. We are here as a team, to make Kauai and Ni‘ihau proud. This is their place, this is our place, this is everybody’s. We’re here to serve.”

The cloak’s name, Ha‘akulou, is for Deborah Kapule, King Kaumuali‘i’s wife and the last queen of Kauai.

Chock said it’s important to have the ‘ahu‘ula and mahiole on display in the Kauai Museum to pay tribute to King Kaumuali‘i.

“That’s why we do this,” Chock said. “To keep the traditions alive, to keep them moving forward.”

“And, culturally, it instills pride,” he said. “It’s a prideful thing to the Hawaiian people.”

Now, locals will not have to travel to the Bishop Museum on Oahu to see the king’s cloak.

“You can come here,” Chock said.


Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or

  1. harryoyama2 April 13, 2018 4:23 am Reply

    Those in attendance, Ka’ahunmanu, Kamehameha were impostors and back stabbers who plotted to overthrow and kidnap King Kamuali’i for their own political and inferior royalty rank. Kamehameha rank was of the wohi a low rank giving him the right to walk behind other higher ranking ali’i which included Kamuali’i and the reason why Ka’ahumanu forced him to become her husband, so that Hawaiians would recognize her in political standing that she lacked when Kamehameha died and she was obligated to give up her power which she refused. Now the descendants in presence are an insult to King Kamuali’i and Hawaiians with higher ranking that are inherited and not impostors who force themselves through blood letting and war.

  2. Sue April 13, 2018 10:09 am Reply

    So beautiful. Such a wonderful tribute. Lots of hard work and love put into this gorgeous cloak!

  3. No_They_Didn't April 13, 2018 12:19 pm Reply

    Actually, they didn’t have anything. I see China today as a more authoritative figure. Thanks for hype on the monarchy.

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