It’s an iconic image: the regal statue of King Kamehameha bedecked with lei on his special day in June. What the public doesn’t see is the army of volunteers who craft the dozens of lei for ceremonies across the state, including the 30-foot creations Governor Ige presents in the ceremony fronting Ali‘iolani Hale in Honolulu.
Ever since the governor took office in 2015, a corps of 80 to 100 volunteers has gathered every year at Washington Place to do their part. “It’s an honor to help Governor and Mrs. Ige participate in the lei draping ceremony,” said volunteer Faith Kaneshiro. The Iges also offer a ho‘okupu as a tribute to the king who united the islands and played such a critical role in Hawai‘i’s history.
A CEREMONY FIT FOR A KING
The statue of King Kamehameha I, draped in dozens of fragrant lei.
Gov. and Mrs. Ige stand as Kumu Hina Wong-Kalu performs the opening chant and others carry the ho’okupu.
Students from the Mālama ʻĀina program in Waiʻanae helping at Washington Place.
A volunteer works on the governor’s 30-foot lei, composed of Song of India leaves, bougainvillea and purple crown flowers, said to have been Queen Liliʻuokalani’s favorite.