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The Design of the Kalaupapa Memorial

The Design of the Memorial, courtesy of G70

Family members who were part of the Kalaupapa Memorial Committee’s Design Team built an ahu at the place where the interlocking circles of the Memorial will come together.

Photo: DeGray Vanderbilt

The Design of the Memorial was created by a Memorial Design Team assembled by Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa that included architects, planners, Native Hawaiian cultural specialists, a Kalaupapa historian and descendants of Kalaupapa all working together. The Design Team met for a year to brainstorm and complete the Design that was then reviewed -- and enthusiastically supported -- by the residents of Kalaupapa and other key stakeholders.


As requested by Kalaupapa residents, the Memorial will be located in Kalawao across from St. Philomena Church on the long-vacant grounds where the Baldwin Home for Men and Boys operated from 1894-1932. When the Baldwin Home moved to Kalaupapa on the other side of the peninsula, the buildings were abandoned and later burned. The site was bulldozed in the 1950s and the land has stood vacant ever since.


The Memorial will consist of two interlocking circles. The upper circle represents the people who were taken from their families and sent to Kalaupapa – their names will be engraved on slabs of granite that will rise up around the circle. The lower circle represents the families who were left behind as well as the descendants of Kalaupapa. The place where the circles come together represents what Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa has long envisioned:  bringing the people of Kalaupapa and their families back together.


Family members who were part of the Design Team built an ahu to mark the spot where the circles come together. Already, the ahu has become a place where descendants and visitors gather to pray and leave lei or flowers.

The names of those admitted to Kalaupapa will be listed chronologically. Ka ‘Ohana felt it was important to arrange the names in this way – rather than alphabetically – because so many people remembered who they were with on the ship when they arrived at Kalaupapa. In addition, by listing the names according to the years that people landed at Kalaupapa, families and visitors will learn about certain chapters of the history by noticing how many people arrived in one year as opposed to another.  A master book of names kept at the site will list the names alphabetically so descendants can easily locate the name(s) or their ancestor(s). This book will be expanded in digital form where it will contain additional information about the people on the Memorial that we have learned over the years from our own research and from families who have shared what they know. 


The professionals assisting the ‘Ohana with the Memorial planning, designs, drawings, construction plans and fundraising are: G70 of Honolulu, Goodfellow Bros., Umemoto & Cassandro Design Corporation, Munekiyo &  Hiraga, Stastny Architect and Grant Works Hawai`i.


Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa wants to extend our sincere thanks to these professionals, many of whom are working on a pro bono basis, and to everyone involved in creating the design of the Kalaupapa Memorial.


Members of the original Memorial Design Team were: Don Stastny (facilitator), Boogie Kahilihiwa, Hitoshi Hida, Lopaka Ho`opi`I, Kehaulani Lum, Tessa Munekiyo-Ng, Kahu Kaleo Patterson, Phil Sabado and Jason Umemoto. Valerie Monson and DeGray Vanderbilt coordinated activities. Kawika McKeague, Jim Stone and Cody Winchester of G70 International have provided invaluable guidance.


The Kalaupapa Memorial got a huge boost in 2022 when the Hawai`i State Legislature appropriated $5 million for construction of the Memorial. The bill was signed into law by Governor David Ige. Ka ‘Ohana is now working with state agencies on release of the funding.


More good news: A local foundation contacted Ka ‘Ohana to help with remaining funds for planning and design. This foundation also wants to help cover annual maintenance costs until Ka ‘Ohana can build up our endowment fund for the Memorial. Ka ‘Ohana has a goal of raising $5 million for the endowment to make sure the Memorial is cared for into perpetuity.


Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa hopes to complete and unveil the Kalaupapa Memorial in 2024.


We invite everyone who reads this website to become part of our collective effort to establish The Kalaupapa Memorial.


Members of the Kamehameha Schools Concert Glee Club dance for the people of Kalaupapa whose names will be engraved on the Kalaupapa Memorial.

Photo: DeGray Vanderbilt

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