Aloha Chapter Member Cheryl Soon, PhD, FAICP, reveals the History and Culture of Hawaii in a remarkable new book.

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Alan Nevin, LAI San Diego member, LAI Fellow and Director, Land Economics Foundation, is an economist and demographer who devotes his practice to providing clients with the information they need to make major decisions on real estate investments. He also provides the same depth of service to the legal industry as an expert witness.



The KeyNotes Book Review
By Alan Nevin, San Diego Chapter;  LAI Fellow, LEF Board Member

Exploring Hawaii’s History and Culture Through Sculpture 


Cheryl Soon, PhD., FAICP, a Hawaiian resident for more than four decades, a scholar by any measure, a city planner, a long-time member of the Aloha chapter of LAI and now the author of a fascinating new book on the history of Hawaii, looking at it through pictorials of statues of civic leaders who made Hawaii what it is today.

I found the book to be absolutely fascinating in many ways. Primarily, the book follows Hawaii from its modern foundations in the mid-1800’s through its royal, religious and civic leadership to its statehood in1959.

What I found most intriguing is the blending of royalty starting with King Kamehameha I through King Kamehameha IV and intermixed with international figures who left their mark on Hawaiian society. Included here are such mainland   stalwarts as Abraham Lincoln and President McKinley and from abroad, Sun Yat-sen (China), Dr. Syngman Rhee (Korea) and Mohandas Ghandi (India) and Dr. Jose Rizal (Philippines). All indirectly contributed to the modernization of Hawaii through immigrants. 

Four other observations on the book:

•    The first is that the modernization of Hawaii was heavily influenced by women, going back to the royalty in the late 1980’s and carrying through the staunch leadership of Patsy Mink, the first person of color elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
•    The influence of religion, brought to Hawaii, through the centuries, including Mormons, Catholics, Anglican Church, Franciscans and Buddhism. 

•    The role that music plays in Hawaiian society, ranging from Don Ho to Elvis Presley, both of whom, along with many other musicians, have been immortalized in statues throughout Hawaii; and finally:

•    The remarkable number of health setbacks that almost wiped out the citizenry of Hawaii. Most of the diseases stemmed from foreign visitors. Perhaps the most tragic was Hansen’s Disease in the mid 1800’s (better known as leprosy). A substantial number of the members of royalty died before adulthood from these devastating diseases.  

•    Overall, “Reflections in Stone and Bronze” is a thoroughly enjoyable trip through the history of Hawaii. I am quite certain that on my next trip there that I will spend a little less time on the beach and a lot more time observing the multitude of statues that dot the landscape of Hawaii. 

•    P.S. About to go into it’s 2nd printing, and available from Mutual Publishing ( if you like to buy local, or from Amazon for an amazingly reasonable price of $21.95. 


Pictures featured in this article. Photography courtesy of Renea Gavrilov Stewart.

Queen Liliuokalani (1838-1917) was the last Queen of Hawaii. She was overthrown with the help of US forces and forced to cede over Hawaii's independent to become a territory of the United States. She was a strong woman and remains close to the hearts of Hawaiians. 

The two times life size statue of her was commissioned to Marianna Pineda. Pineda studied her subject for over four years before creating this regal piece, standing in pride, demonstrating her qualities of "courage, compassion, and capacity for endurance." The statue is located outside the State Capitol building.

 Liliuokalani's life is celebrated on her birthday each year, September 2, with lei draping, song, and events. 

Hon. Patsy T. Mink (1927-2002) is credited with the passage of Title IX, a civil rights law that prevents discrimination in federally funded educational institutions. which recently marked its fiftieth year. Mink was the first woman of color to serve in the US House of Representatives and the first Asian American woman to run for President. The life-sized bronze statue of her, created by Holly Young of Hawaii, is located in front of the Hawaii State Public Library. It is surrounded by low marble walls upon which are etched famous saying by Mink.

In 2022 a celebration at the Mink statue was held to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Title IX passage.

Cheryl Soon, PhD., FAICP, is a professional city planner from Honolulu who studies place-making, community heritage, and culture. A former city official during the time when many of the modern sculptures were installed, she offers a unique lens to the stories told. This is her first book. She has been a member of LAI since the year 2000.


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