Hawaii became the 50th state in 1959. I’olani Palace, the only royal palace on American soil, served as the legislative and governmental building until the Capitol was completed in 1969. This building contains so much symbolism and is very unique. The openness and natural elements reflect the Hawaiian people.
The columns around the building resemble royal palms. There is a repeating pattern of eight columns representing the eight islands.
The state seal has a picture of King Kamehameha the Great on the left and the Goddess of Liberty on the right. Below is a phoenix, symbolizing the rebirth of Hawaii. First it was a republic, then a territory and finally a state. There are also eight taro leaves representing the eight Hawaiian Islands. The writing on the bottom translates to “The life of the land is perpetuated is righteousness.”
In the center of the open air Capitol is a mosaic representing the colors of the Pacific Ocean. It was designed by local artist Tadashi Sato and installed in 1969.
The House of Representatives is shaped like a volcano inside and out. (Which is how these islands were formed). The House has warm colors representing earth and fire. Richard, our knowledgable guide shared that the tapestry in the front of the room is made from 900,000 knots. The huge chandelier represents the sun. There are 51 Representatives who are elected every two years.
The Senate chamber, which is also shaped like the cone of a volcano, is decorated in shades of blue to represent the ocean. The chandelier here, the moon, is made of 620 nautilus shells. The tapestry in this chamber has double hulled canoes and looks like clouds. Twenty-five Senators who are elected every four years meet in this symbolic room.
The desks, benches and some of the walls in the House and Senate are made from beautiful Koa wood. In the Executive Chamber the walls, doors and the desk where the Governor signs bills are all made of Koa wood.
This Capitol has so much subtle symbolism. It is so open and welcoming to its people. Even the web sight has an array of information about how the people represented can be involved in their government.
Now I want to tell you about what made this Capitol even better. It was of course the people. I had contacted the tour department about two months ago and Richard,who is in charge of tours at the Capitol, gave us a personal tour. It means so much more to hear about what you are seeing from an informative guide. He spoke about this magnificent building with such pride and ownership. We are so thankful we had this opportunity.
A friend suggested we have Marcus and Caroline introduced at this our 50 th Capitol. I was not sure how to go about this, so I randomly with God’s help chose to contact Senator Laura Thielen’s office. You know God knew what he was doing when he lead me to make this choice. About 15 minutes after I sent the email, I had a response from Kathleen the Senator’s Office Manager. She and I shared many emails back and forth. Tara, the Senator’s Legislative Assistant met us, explained what would happen, gave us some background information and sat with us during the session. After the gavel struck, Senator Thielen introduced our family. It really meant so much to us.
The busy Senator even took a few minutes to meet us personally and have a few pictures taken (thanks Tara.) They will never know how much we truly appreciate their time and effort to make this visit so memorable.