The Royal Lamp
Kamehameha Schools Kapālama marks this special occasion with a kīhei, a traditional Hawaiian garment, gifted to each graduating senior. Having successfully completed our graduation requirements, they have earned the privilege and honor of receiving this special kīhei as a symbol of their passage into the next phase of their lives.
“Kalamakūali‘i—The Royal Lamp” was designed by Visual Arts teacher Carl Pao in collaboration with a committee of other high school staff members with expertise in Hawaiian language and culture. The symbols in the design have significance for our school and its location on the heights of Kapālama, the piko (center) of our graduates’ formal education over the past few years.
The lamakū, or kukui nut lamp, symbolizes enlightenment or the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom during our graduates’ time with us. The four kukui represent each grade level of the high school, joined by a nī‘au (coconut midrib) which is anchored in a pōhaku (stone). What we see of the pōhaku is a shape that resembles an ‘ahu‘ula (shoulder-length feather cloak) that represents Pauahi, our Founder and Benefactress, whose generosity created tremendous educational opportunities for our graduates. The brilliance of the light has grown stronger as they have passed from one grade to the next. We hope that our graduates will continue to add kukui, gaining greater enlightenment in their lives beyond Kamehameha, but always be firmly connected to the piko of Kapālama.
The wavy lines at the bottom of the design represent wai (water), a source of life and knowledge, and symbolize the underground waterway that once flowed through lava tubes and connected Keanakamanō (The Cave of the Shark) Valley at our campus’ main gate with Pu‘uloa (Pearl Harbor), Oceania and the rest of the world. Our mo‘olelo (stories) say that the Hawaiian god Kamohoali‘i traveled this waterway in his shark form to Kapālama. The chevron shapes represent a shark’s teeth and also the island of O‘ahu.