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Duke gets a spa day in Waikiki

Waikiki beach is relaxing but hanging out there constantly can take its toll. Works of art are no exception. The statue of Duke Paoa Kahanamoku on Waikiki beach will be under wraps tomorrow for “conservation treatment.”

Visitors will not be able to see the famous statue from 9 to 3 on Wednesday so that technicians from the Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts can work on it. The statue is made of “cast bronze on a fiberglass reinforced cast stone base” according to the mayor’s office. The statue spa day is part of the annual maintenance cycle for public artworks.

The statue was installed in 1990 to commemorate Kahanamouku’s 100th birthday. Artist Jan Gordon Fisher created the 9-foot statue for the Waikiki Improvement Association, which later gave it to the city in 1995.

While many people enjoy taking photos in front of the statue, they may not pause to wonder why Duke isn’t looking at his beloved ocean. Instead the statue faces the Waikiki sidewalk and the hotels that line the street. There are other inconsistencies that dedicated surfers would notice.

It makes for a much nicer photo, though, to have the ocean as a backdrop. And there’s a chance Duke wouldn’t mind the artistic license. After gaining fame as a surfer and Olympic gold medalist swimmer, Duke served as an unofficial goodwill ambassador for Hawaii. He was an official City Greeter for eight years. He also served as sheriff of the City and County of Honolulu for over 25 years, and the nearby police substation on Waikiki beach is named for him.

Posted by: Bruce Fisher on Feb 15, 2011