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The memory of Bruddah IZ will forever live on in the hearts of Hawaii and beyond. And in the Waianae community, his memory lives on through an impressive bronze sculpture.
The 200-pound bronze bust of the revered singer looks out toward the ocean, with the Waianae mountain range in the backdrop. It sits in the Waianae Community Center on the west side of Oahu, where hundreds gathered in 2003 during the sculpture’s dedication. Sculptor Jan-Michelle Sawyer and the widow of singer Israel Kamakawiwoole, Marlene, also attended, placing lei on the bronze figure.
Fans from all over the world generously chipped in to create the statue. Their donations went even further than imagined, as the monies funded scholarships for talented music students headed to college. The “Friends of Bruddah IZ” also bought 15 handmade ukuleles and donated them to the Nanakuli Boys & GIrls Club.
The fish hook hanging from his neck represents the magic hook that Maui, the “Hawaiian Sup’pa Man,” used to pull up the Hawaiian Islands, as conveyed through one of Iz’s hit songs. Sadly, it was stolen not too long after the dedication. Jan-Michelle re-sculpted a hook and welded it back on so that it couldn’t be removed.
I read an online forum, in which visitors were surprised to learn about the sculpture’s existence; some adding it to their list of things to see while in the islands. The bronze sculpture is about an hour and a half drive from Waikiki, but if you’re staying at one of the west side hotels, it’s a much shorter drive. Many pay tribute to the singer/songwriter with a lei or two. But you don’t have to; just visiting Bruddah IZ’s sculpture is more than enough to help his memory live on.
BRUDDAH IZ SCULPTURE • Waianae Neighborhood Community Center, Waianae, HI 96792