Statue of Hawaiian music icon in Waikiki

A statute of Philip Kunia "Gabby" Pahinui has been immortalized in bronze by master sculptor Kim Duffett. It is located at Waikiki Beach Walk.
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Art in many different forms can be found practically everywhere you look in Hawaii. Hula, community theater, festivals, paintings, photography, music, sculpture, and more play a vital role in Hawaiian culture.

And you can’t miss it. When you come to Hawaii, you will find many works of art in the Honolulu Art Museum and the Hawaii State Art Museum. These museums are beautiful, and I highly recommend going to them.

But, you don’t have to go to a museum to discover local art. In Hawaii, you will find art where you least expect it. Paintings will be on the walls of local restaurants. You will hear live music at night as you walk around Waikiki. And if you’re lucky, you might catch a hula performance.

You could even stumble across some local art as you are walking around. There are sculptures of Hawaiian royalty and other important figures all over Oahu. In fact, the opening scenes of Hawaii 5-0 features a clip of the King Kamehameha Statue. Every day, people visit Aliiolani Hale, across the street from Iolani Palace, to take pictures of the statue

Philip Kunia “Gabby” Pahinui

Master sculptor Kim Duffett recently immortalized a statute of Philip Kunia “Gabby” Pahinui in bronze. Visitors can now find it at Waikiki Beach Walk.

Known as “Pops,” Gabby was one of the greatest 20th-century masters of Hawaiian vocal, slack key and steel guitar music.

The sculpture is titled “Kanikapila,” a Hawaiian phrase that means “make music.” The sculpture was inspired by a photograph taken by Gabby’s son, Cyril Pahinui. It shows Gabby playing guitar in his backyard in Waimanalo, on the eastern side of Oahu.

Gabby was a self-taught musician who became one of the great masters of Hawaii’s unique slack-key guitar sound. He inspired generations of musicians. He created “Hi’ilawe,” the first-ever recording of Hawaiian slack key guitar.

Gabby often hosted weekend jam-sessions, or kanikapila, in his backyard. These sessions drew musicians from throughout the islands. Today, Gabby’s son’s, Bla, Cyril, and Martin, follow in their father’s footsteps, making music and carrying the tradition of kanikapila forward. They held the 2017 Gabby Pahinui Waimānalo Kanikapila in May in Waimanalo. In order to allow all to enjoy the music, admission was free.

“Gabby’s music is synonymous with Hawaii.”

Sculptor Kim Duffett, who lives in Hawaii, took a year to conceptualize and design the 7-foot-tall bronze statue at his studio in Honolulu. In addition to “Kanikapila,” you can find his recent work fronting the Hilton’s Kalia Tower in Waikiki. For his three, twice life-size, bronze hula kahiko dancers, entitled, “Kaha ka ‘Io me na Makani,” he received the Kahili Award for Visual Arts at the 2003 Keep it Hawaii Awards.

“Gabby’s music is synonymous with Hawaii,” said sculptor Kim Duffett, who has traveled around the world, including three-year sailing voyage in the South Pacific. “This statue captures Gabby in his element – playing music in his backyard surrounded by family and friends – and evokes his talent, humility, and kindness that endeared him to generations.”

A commitment to music

Outrigger Enterprises Group initiated the idea to celebrate Gabby and his influence on Hawaiian music through this statue. In fact, Outrigger holds a strong commitment to preserving and perpetuating Hawaiian music and culture. It also has a deep connection to Hawaii’s music industry.

Guests at the Outrigger can enjoy an expanded music program, E Mele Ana, which gives guests a front-row seat to authentic Hawaiian music. The Outrigger also holds Hawaii’s premier live music venue, Blue Note Hawaii. Blue Note Hawaii has held limited engagements with world-renowned artists, from local talent to international sensations, for limited engagements. Its Kani Ka Pila Grille boasts live music nightly. And, the Outrigger Resorts Signature Experiences includes a host of complimentary activities and amenities that connect guests to Hawaii’s culture.

The bronze statue of Gabby is located in the heart of Waikiki Beach Walk on the Plaza of the open-air shopping, dining, and entertainment district. The statue was unveiled to Gabby’s family and friends during a private ceremony of close to 300 people, which also included local musicians who were influenced by his music.

As you walk around Waikiki, look for the sculpture of Philip Kunia “Gabby” Pahinui. Point it out to your friends and share with them the story of his legacy to Hawaiian culture.

If you want to learn more about art and culture in Hawaii, be sure to give us a call today. Our travel agents live in Hawaii and would be happy to help you plan your trip. And, be sure to ask about the Hawaii Culture Tour. During this tour, you will immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture and history and visit an ancient Hawaiian temple, Iolani Palace (the only royal palace in the United States), and other important cultural sites in Hawaii.

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