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Tapestry to hang again on Council Chambers wall

More than 4-decade-old artwork has been thoroughly cleaned

A tapestry of the Maui County seal, created by the late Alice Kagawa Parrot, was removed in August from the Council Chambers under the direction of then council Chairwoman Kelly King. The council, under the new council Chairwoman Alice Lee, voted to return the cleaned tapestry to the chamber. — Photo courtesy of Council Member Riki Hokama’s office

A tapestry of the Maui County Seal, which was removed last year by former Chairwoman Kelly King over the objections of some members, will be returning to the Maui County Council Chambers following a vote by the members Friday.

Under new council Chairwoman Alice Lee, the council voted 8 to 0 to approve a resolution to restore the county commissioned tapestry by renowned weaver and Hawaii native, the late Alice Kagawa Parrot.

On Friday, King was absent and excused from the vote, having left the meeting around the usual noon lunch break for another commitment. The other members gave up their noon break to finish the meeting because other meetings were scheduled for Friday afternoon.

Some council members objected to the tapestry’s removal last year, noting a lack of public input and clear cause or reason. Council Member Riki Hokama expressed his dismay over the removal in a news release. He said he “firmly objected” to the removal and noted that no timeline was shared for the work.

The tapestry had hung in the chambers since 1972 on the wall behind the council chair’s rostrum.

In August, King said she replaced the tapestry with a more standard seal because the tapestry caused her to “cough a lot.” The new seal and its installation costs were more than $9,000, which came from excess funds from the previous fiscal year, which would have lapsed, council officials said.

King said she had the support of her new leadership faction to remove the tapestry and made members aware of its removal at a meeting in July.

As chair, King said she was not required to get approval from the members because she had the power to make decisions regarding the chamber. She said she also consulted with the Office of Council Services and the Office of the County Clerk and did not receive any objections.

Since its removal, the tapestry has been cleaned, which cost $1,350, according to a committee report. At Friday’s meeting, Council Member Yuki Lei Sugimura, who introduced the resolution to restore the tapestry, said that the person who cleaned the artwork said “there wasn’t much dust.”

The cleaner also said that because the tapestry will hang again in the chamber, a controlled environment, she didn’t see any need for a cover or a case for the artwork, Sugimura said.

After the meeting, Sugimura said now all that is needed is a contractor to hang the tapestry. She and Council Services did not have a timeline for the tapestry to be placed back in the chamber.

The current seal will be placed in a yet-to-be-determined location, council officials said.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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