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City crew restores Prince Kuhio statue after vandalism

  • COURTESY MICHAEL DAVID LOFTIN

    Two people with Mayor’s Office for Culture and Arts worked to remove spray paint on the Prince Kuhio statue in Waikiki on Thursday.

The Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts announced Thursday night that it had completed the removal of graffiti on the Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaʻole statue in Waikiki after it was vandalized on Halloween night.

On Tuesday, police caught 19-year-old Andrew Chalaire in the act of spray painting the statue orange. Chalaire was booked into jail on a count of fourth-degree criminal property damage, according to the Associated Press. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to two days in jail with credit for time served and four hours of community service on Thursday.

Removal of the paint using conservation methods lasted throughout most of the day Thursday, said city officials, followed by a wax coating to protect the bronze and restore the artwork’s exterior shine.

“This type of desecration to a piece of art honoring a beloved Hawaiian Alii won’t be tolerated here on Oahu,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell in a press release. “I’m glad the alleged vandal was apprehended by the Honolulu Police Department and I’m urging the toughest penalties possible. We need to send a strong message that these type of acts and any sort of graffiti are completely unacceptable.”

Misty Kelaʻi, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts, said it broke her heart that someone would deface “our beloved prince.”

“Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaʻole, often called Ke Aliʻi Makaʻainana (Prince of the People), worked his entire life to strengthen the Hawaiian people and empower the community he served,” she said in the press release. “We have to respect the monuments that are in place to remind kamaaina and malihini of the contributions of our Alii.”

The statue by artist Sean Browne was commissioned for $130,000 by the city in 2001 and unveiled on Jan. 12, 2002 and placed along Kalakaua Avenue in front of Kuhio Beach in Waikiki.

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