By Stu Burley
The “Friends of King Kaumualiʻi” was formed in Waimea, Kauaʻi in 2004. The group had ideas about where it wanted to go, but those ideas were never materialized until about a year ago. It has now taken off in a flurry of events in and around Waimea.
One of their goals was to find an artist to sculpt a statue of King Kaumualiʻi, to be placed in the Russian Fort Elizabeth in Waimea. The search began on Kauaʻi and on the Mainland.
When the search was in Hanapepe, every art dealer and sculptor pointed to Saim Caglayan’s shop. In the initial discussion with Saim, he got excited and said the statue should be made of Kauaʻi lava rock – the same lava rock that was on the Garden Isle during King Kaumualiʻi’s reign.
The Friends chose Saim because of the deep feeling he had about the bond between the king and the lava from Kauaʻi.
Assuming there would be a price tag for the artwork, the Friends started to raise money through donations to fund the project. On Nov. 26, Saim visited the Friends’ monthly meeting at the Tech Center and Museum in Waimea. And to the wondrous sounds, we heard Saim saying he would donate his labor and time to create the statue.
The committee had estimated the artist’s work would challenge the Friends to raise $40,000 to $50,000. Saim mentioned the visit he had with Aletha Kaohi and Barbara Bennett. At that time, he felt there was a special bond. He felt he had to work with them to bring about a significant and historical statue of Kaumualiʻi, and offered his labor and time as a gift to the people of Kaua`i, past, present and future.
Saim also shared his ideas, and recommended we all move forward as the beginning of a journey to create a statue of King Kaumualiʻi which will be cherished for generations to come.
Visit www.kauaikingkaumualii.com for more information on “The Year of the King.”
- Stu Burley is the secretary of Friends of King Kaumualiʻi, a group formed in 2004 to perpetuate and honor the legacy of Kauaʻi’s last king.